Bhubaneswar: This year’s Sabitri Brata is different from many previous ones as perhaps for the first time, women are not going to the temple as the lockdown restrictions prohibit large gatherings in places of worship.
While some have hired priests to perform rituals at home, others decided to pray on their own by taking cues from the internet. Those who have enough space have called a priest at home, making him perform puja in an open courtyard wearing a mask. In societies where there is a temple, the priest will perform the puja using a loudspeaker or mike, and the women will follow the chants at home.
Sabitri Brata is a ritual observed by married Hindu women of Odisha since ancient times. The ritual, which originates from the legends of Savitri and Satvayan, is considered sacred even today.
According to tradition, women observe a fast and visit the temple wearing a new saree, bangles and tray full of fruits for the good health and long life of their husbands.
Police force has been deployed everywhere to check any violation.
Some local temples, however, allowed women to perform the rituals by following the social distancing norms.
OdishaBytes spoke to some women in Bhubaneswar to know their experience.
Manorama Sahoo, a resident of Acharya Vihar: “I believe that traditions are our identity. I value the tradition but with the imposition of the lockdown, along with my sister-in-law, I went to a nearby temple, where servitors performed the puja and placed the basket with the prasad on the floor from where we picked it up. I started observing Sabitri Brata almost 27 years ago.”
Minati Pattanaik, a resident of Baramunda: “Yes, I keep the Sabitri Brata. I wear a new saree and eat only fruits the whole day as part of the rituals. My husband buys a saree and other things a few days in advance. I believe Sabitri Brata is a matter of showing care and respect for the husband. I along with my daughter-in-law Shilpa went to the temple in the wee hours at around 5:30 am. Within the next one hour, the servitor closed the temple.”
Prerna Mishra, a resident of Old Town: “Being an Odia woman, I observe Sabitri Brata. However, I don’t fast because I suffer from low blood pressure. But I wear a new saree and do puja. This time, due to the lockdown, I joined a group of women and performed the puja with them at home.”