Bhubaneswar: Manabasa Gurubar (Wish-fulfillment Thursday) dedicated to Goddess Lakhsmi is a major festival in Odisha that is celebrated during the lunar month of Margasira.
On this day, the puja of Goddess Lakshmi cannot be completed without Jhoti Chita (paitings with rice paste).
After cleaning the house, the womenfolk make beautiful Chita in rice paste. A piece of cloth bound on a stick is used to create the Jhotis comprsing beautiful designs of flowers, mainly lotus, and the feet of Goddess Lakshmi.
“As per our age-old tradition, Maha Lakshmi comes to a sanctified house where women perform the spiritual festivities with impeccable devotion,” said Soumya Sephali Sahoo, an English lecturer at a Bhubaneswar-based college.
“We adorn our houses with beautiful designs made with a paste of rice flour called ‘Chita’. The lotus flower and feet of Maha Lakshmi are popular designs believed to invite the goddess into our homes and invoke her blessings. I believe the colour white in ‘Chita’ symbolises purity and divinity,” she added.
“I have learnt the basics of Chita from my mother. From a very tender age, I used to spend hours embellishing the pathways of my house with intricate patterns and designs. It has resulted in my passion towards drawing Chitas. The motifs and symbols used reveal the richness of our culture and animates creativity,” said Soumya.
“We cannot explain Manabasa Gurubar excluding Jhoti Chita. We can see beautiful Jhoti In every Odia house on this auspicious day. I believe that ‘Jhoti Chita’ is a connection between the devotees and Maa Lakshmi,” said Pragyan Priyadarshini Sahoo, a lecturer in Khallikote University.
“I used to help my mother in all drawing Chitas and preparations for the rituals before marriage. Now, I do the same at marital home and get everything ready by Wednesday night ahead of Manabasa Gurubar,” she added.
Married women used to welcome Maha Lakshmi to their houses by putting Jhoties in Verandas. The other name of Maa Lakshmi is Padmalaya. Her favourite flower is lotus. That’s why, women draw the feet of Goddess Lakshmi inside the Lotus flower.
“Maa Lakshmi loves clean houses. We clean our house day before Manabasa Gurubara and draw ‘Jhoti Chita’ from the main gate to the puja room in our home. We believe that Maa Lakshmi will come inside our house by stepping on the Chita ,” said Pragyan.
“I have learnt this from my mother. It takes two to three hours to draw Jhoti Chita in the entire house and I do it passionately,” said Pragyan.
“We should keep our traditions alive. This art form is one of the identities of our culture,” she added.
“It is believed that the more we clean our house and draw beautiful Jhoti Chitas, Maa Lakshmi will be satisfied with the puja. The goddess does not judge between rich or poor people,” said Sonalika Purohit Padhi, an Odissi dancer.
“As it is believed that Maa Lakshmi enters the house and stands on every Jhoti Chita, we put flowers and rice on them to welcome her,” said Sonalika.
Though Sonalika is staying in Bengaluru, she maintains all the traditions and follows all the rules of Puja.
“I love all art form, as I am an Odissi dancer. Since my childhood, I love to draw Jhoti Chita. I have observed how to draw Jhoti from my mother and grandmother,” said Sonalika.
As mentioned in Lakshmi Purana, Goddess Lakshmi visited the home of Sriya Chandaluni (a low caste woman), as her home was very clean and for her beautiful Jhoties.