Sambalpur: Triveni Amavasya or Mauni Amavasya is observed on no moon day in the Magh month in Odisha. This year, the festival fell on January 24.
On this day, people take a dip in the holy river and have a darshan of the deities.This day is also observed as the birthday of Goddess Viraja at Viraja Temple in Jaipur.
In Western Odisha, there is a different take on this festival. Married women observe it as a vow with great dedication and pray for the long life of their husbands. On this day, women do puja, observe a fast and worship Shiva –Parvati under a Tulsi, Banyan and Peepal Tree. Very similar to Sabitri, the belief and many of the rituals of Amavasya puja are the same.
As the name suggests, the story behind Triveni Amavasya revolves around Triveni Sangam where the three holy rivers – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati unite.
Varti Madhuchanda Dash says, “In the early days, we used to read Savitri vrat story during this puja. My late father-in-law, Sashi Bhushan Dash did a lot of research and found the Triveni Amavasya vrat Katha and gave it to us. Now, many women observing this puja take this from us and read the story during the puja.
King Chandradhwaja from Abanti had a daughter after lot of prayers. Princess Chandrakanti was very beautiful and intelligent but not married. She started praying and visited many places of pilgrimage. Still, she did not find a suitable groom. One night, she dreamt about a prince. Suddenly, after a few days, King Vijayketu of Anga visited their kingdom with his son Bajrabahu. To Chandrakanti’s surprise, Bajrabahu was the prince of her dream, thus she decided to marry him. Upon inquiry, the king found out that Bajrabahu was destined to die in a year. The king first refused to give permission for the marriage but Chandrakanti was adamant. Finally, he relented and the marriage took place. They led a happy life. Since Chandrakanti knew of the prediction, she always stayed close to her husband.
Once they went to visit the holy place, Triveni Sangam. King Bajrabahu suddenly fell ill there and fainted. The queen wanted to end her life too, so she went to the Sangam and wanted to jump into it. When she was about to do so, the three devis (Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati) came out and said, “Go and see, your husband is fine. There is no need to end your life. Just keep one thing in mind. Every year, on this day, you will have to observe this puja as Triveni Amavasya.”
This is the community puja when women come together at one place and perform this puja. They take a purifying bath early in the morning, and wear new clothes, bangles and vermilion. Potted plants of Tulsi, Banya and Peepal are place next to each other. Under them, two supari or areca nut coated with turmeric and Indian gooseberry are worshiped as Shiva and Parvati. Each devotee keeps her areca nut with them and next year, she coats it again with turmeric and Indian gooseberry.
Seven types of fruit and flowers are offered to the god. Devotees take only one meal in the day that too only fruits, as bhoga. Normally, this puja is observed in the afternoon after fasting the whole day. The women take the bhoga and wash the feet of their husbands with water.
On Triveni Amavasya, Goddess Viraja is worshipped as Goddess Savitri. This is a special day of the year when puja is done by chanting the Gayatri Mantra.