“Aa ka Ma Boi, Pana Gua Thoi
Pana Gua Tora, Masaka Dharama Mora”
ଧରମ ମାସରେ ଧରମ ବାସରେ କରମ କସଣ ସରେଇ ଦିଅ,
ମଣିଷ ମନରେ ଦୟା କ୍ଷମା ପରି ମହତ ଭାବନା ପୁରେଇ ଦିଅ ..
A long maritime history. Traders known as Sadhabas used to set off in huge boats called Boitas from the ports of Odisha to the distant ports of Bali, Sumatra, Borneo and Sri Lanka. The traders would take advantage of favourable winds and sea currents in the winters to ply their trade with distant lands. The expeditions would traditionally set off on the day of Karthik Pournima, which usually corresponds to the full moon day in the month of November.
The boats were given a hearty send off by the womenfolk with prayers for their wellbeing and safe passage. The memory of these expeditions is kept alive in the festival of Boita Bandana, where replicas of the sea faring boats of yore are set afloat in ponds and water bodies. This festival is also known as Bali Jatra.
The Full Moon Day or 15th Day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing moon) of the Kartika month is considered as Karitka Purnima. During this month all the pious Hindus refrain themselves from eating fish, meat and egg. All of them take pre-dawn bath and visit temples as a matter of routine habit. The last five days are considered more sacred, in which there is wide participation of devotees. Taken together the days are called ‘Panchuka’ (a period consisting of five days) and the last day being the “Kartika Purnima”. Every day they take food only once in the afternoon which is known as ‘Habisha’.
Another festival that takes place in the “Kartika Purnima” morning is significant to the ancient history of Odisha. This reminds the maritime glory of the State. In olden days the ‘Sadhabas’ (Sea Traders) used to sail off to distant Islands like Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Ceylon etc. for trade by huge boats (Boita). The women of the community were giving them a hearty see off by saying ‘Aa ka Ma Boi’ which symbolizes three Oriya months i.e. Aswina, Kartika and Margashira. The days are now gone, but the memory is still alive. Now, people float tiny boats made out of cork and coloured paper or bark of the banyan tree remembering the past glory. This is called “Boita Bandana”. The “Kartik Brata” is concluded on “Kartik Purnima” day. It is commonly observed that devotees take holy bath in Puri Sea Beach and worship Lord Jagannath on this holy day. This festival is celebrated with lot of respect by each and every individual of Odisha.
Kartika month is considered as the most auspicious month of the Hindu year. It is the month which acknowledges the maximum number of festivals. The day marks beginning of the month long Kartika. The whole of the month, persons both old and young,
worship Lord Laxmi Narayan and or Radha Damodar. The day begins with a cold water bath before sunrise followed by Narayan puja. ‘Habhisa-anna’, prepared specially for the occasion, is eaten once in a day and only after 12.00 noon.
During this month all the pious Hindus refrain themselves from eating fish, meat or egg. All of them take pre-dawn bath and visit temples as a matter of routine. The last five days are considered more sacred in which there is wide participation. Taken
together the days are called ‘Panchuka’, the last day being the Kartika Purnima. Every day they take food only once in the afternoon which is known as ‘Habisa-anna’. For all the five days the women after purification bath in the early morning draw beautiful
flower-designs around the chaura (a small temple like structure with a Tulasi plant overhead) with coloured powder produced endogenously.
To honor the seafarers of ancient Odisha, miniature boats made of banana peel, cork, banyan bark, paper or pith are set sail in water. Men and women dress in traditional costumes, light lamps in the boats and launch them in the nearest water body. The Vaishnavite saint Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is believed to have set foot in Odisha after crossing the Mahanadi River on the day of Karthik Pournima and the day is celebrated in memory of the saint. The day is observed by singing devotional songs and group prayers.