Keonjhar: Diwali, the festival of lights and crackers, holds a special significance for the Kudumi and Santhala people of Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and a few other districts of Odisha.
It is an agro-based festival for the communities who celebrate it as ‘Gobandana’ or ‘Gobardhan Puja.
Celebrated for three days from the day of Kali Puja, the first day is known as Gotha or Gothani Puja, the second day is Guhala Puja and the last day Budhi Bandana ritual is performed.
Diwali is known as ‘Hati Lekhen Parab’ in Kurmali language in Puda Dihi village under Sadar block. ‘Hati Lekhen Parab’ means biggest festival like elephants. The villagers start preparations one month before for the festival. Relatives come from other villages for the celebration.
On the afternoon of Diwali, people gather their cows at one place in the village and the village head performs a special puja at the spot.
The uniqueness of the puja is that they perform all rituals in front of one egg each. Every family present at the spot bring one hen and puja is performed for hens also.
The main aim of these rituals are prayer for the safety of these domestic animals. As cows and bullocks help in farming. Kudumi community and Santhala tribe people think them as their family members.
After puja, all cows and bullocks are allowed to walk together. The bullock, who will touch the egg first, the owner of that bullock used to be called the luckiest man of that year. “Our older generation used to believe this tradition. We offer puja to cows and bullocks in this festival,” said Arati Mahanta.
In the evening, the villagers with the village head used to go to that luckiest man’s house with procession. He also treats them as guest and gives treat of chicken and mutton. The specialty of this Gotha Puja is Prasad of sweet cake with mutton.
“Kali Puja is the biggest festival for us. We call it ‘Hati Lekhen Parab’. We offer Puja to egg. We believe that if bullock will touch the egg in feet then the cows and bullocks can be cured from all the diseases. The owner of the bullock, who touches the egg, will have more profit in that year,” said Bhola Mahanta, a villager.
Notably, the Kudumi community people depend on agriculture completely.
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