Bhubaneswar: Today is Kartik Purnima, the full moon day of the Hindu month of Kartik, considered to have been one of the most auspicious days in the Hindu calendar. At the crack of dawn, men, women and children across coastal Odisha headed for the nearest water body to set afloat toy boats with lamps, betel leaves, crackers fruits and coins.
Known as the Boita Bandana or Boat Festival, this is supposed to be a mass commemoration of the maritime glory of the people of Odisha, which was known as Kalinga in ancient times. But some believe the tradition is meant to offer prayers to the ancestors and seek their blessings.
The Toy Boat Festival also marks the end of a month-long abstinence from non-vegetarian food for most Odia families and the beginning of the Bali Jatra along the banks of Mahanadi river in Cuttack.
Kartik Purnima also marks the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Devji, the founder of Sikhism.