Reported by Simantika Nanda
Deogarh, Apr 21:
The villagers of Tipirisingha under Laimura panchayat in Maoist infested Deogarh district of Odisha still don’t use a cot to sleep fearing the wrath of their goddess Barihani.
The 300 odd tribal residents of the backward village continue to sleep on the floor on thin mattresses made up date palm leaves and even the financially better off use only wooden slats since generations.
The villagers primarily depend upon the jungle and agriculture to earn their livelihood. Some of them are educated and work for the government too. However, all are united in their belief and tradition of not using cots as a mark of respect for their goddess Barihani.
Legend has it that the people using cots in the village will offend the goddess and invite her wrath leading to snakebite and disturbances in the family. Some even claim to have used cots only to witness disturbances and untoward incidents happening in their family.
“We have been following the tradition since the time of our grandfather. Some well-off villagers ignored the rules and bought themselves cots only to witness disturbances in their family,” said the Kalo (priest) of the village, who plays an important part in deciding the rules of the village.
Following their tradition, the tribals also celebrate their annual festival with a lot of fanfare. Animal sacrifice is quite common.
The temple of goddess Barihani lies by the side of a small fountain. While the fountain never dries up anytime during the year, the villagers don’t use the water from this source as it has been dedicated to the goddess. They go on the claim that even animals and birds don’t use the water of this spring!
Beyond the truth of these legends, the simplicity of the lifestyles of these villagers and their rituals continue to showcase a fine example of age-old tradition that continues to live in rural folklore of the state.