Bhubaneswar: Homes in Odisha turn canvas on Thursdays of Margasira masa (November/December) with beautiful and intricate ‘jhoti’ or ‘chita’, the line art using semi-liquid paste of rice or pithau.
Floral designs with small foot marks of Goddess Laxmi adorn the space outside the house, leading to the courtyard and the place of worship. A symbol of prosperity, ‘chita’ is intrinsic to Odia households.
It is believed that the goddess of wealth and prosperity visits homes during this month. She skips those that are dirty and untidy. Therefore, womenfolk wake up early morning, wash the house clean and make beautiful ‘chita’ welcoming the Goddess.
As an offering, newly harvested grains are spread on a low table and filled in mana (measuring pot made of cane). Three betel nuts washed in turmeric water are placed on ‘mana dhana’. The puja is performed by reading aloud the ‘Mahalaxmi Purana’ by poet Balaram Das.
It is observed over four (sometime five) Thursdays. On these days, ‘manda pitha’, ‘khiri’, ‘kakara’ and ‘chitau’ are prepared and offered to the Goddess.
The Legend of Manabasa Gurubar is based on ancient scripture ‘Mahalaxmi Purana’. It talks about the devotion of Sriya, a scavenger low caste woman, who wins over Goddess Laxmi at a time when untouchables were not allowed to pray, worship and conduct rituals. This angers Lord Jagannath’s elder brother Balabhadra and the Goddess is turned out of the temple. She curses the brothers, who then undergo immense suffering without food, water or shelter.
Soon the brothers realise the importance of Laxmi and request her to return. Sh agrees but on one condition that there will be no discrimination of caste and creed on earth.