Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Cuttack, Jun 4:
Odisha is famous for its different bratas and opasas (ସାବିତ୍ରୀ ଓଷା or ସାବିତ୍ରୀ ବ୍ରତ). Savitri brata is a very ancient and popular fasting day that is observed and celebrated by all married Hindu Odia women whose husbands are alive.
Falling during the hot and humid month of Jyestha on an Amavasya or no moon day this is observed by the married or the sadhaba ladies with hearts full of dedication, prayers, vows, fasting and love for the long life of their spouse. This day the wife prays to Savitri who brought back her husband Satyavan from the jaws of death by her witty questions to Yama the Lord of death.
Different market places in the twin city have a chaotic but very interesting look with Satyavans creating traffic jams while haggling over lichees, mangoes, bananas and trying to cope up in accompanying wives to the different saree shops which give out discounts. An exotic tongue-in-cheek experience to be borne with patience every year.
Which Odiani does not like a new saree and an opportunity to deck herself up as a bride with alta on her feet adorned with silver anklets and toe rings, arms jingling with new red glass bangles? The puja Prasad or offerings are fruits of nine varieties which are usually seasonal and local ,raw pulses (moong dal), sago dana which have been soaked overnight and no food prepared on fire is used. In the morning after putting ground turmeric on their body the women take a bath and wear new clothes and beautify themselves with alta and sindoor.
The auspicious ingredients turmeric, vermillion, alta and red bangles known as Sankha have to be used which symbolises marriage. After doing puja they read a small booklet known as savitri brata katha which is also heard by other women who are fasting. Some women offer puja to the Silapua or the grinding stone.The grinding stone is thoroughly cleaned to which finely ground raw turmeric is applied to the silapua. It is given the form of Savitri with a face and decorated with kajal, vermillion and adorned with gold earrings, necklace and covered with a new saree . After the reading of the book bhoga is offered.
Trends are changing and so is tradition. There are many young married women who do not go deep into the nitty gritty of the tradition but enjoy celebrating the beautiful Savitri festival all the same. Working in a software company Sylvi says,” my company does not have any special leave for this day so I just do fasting, eat fruits and drink juice. I don’t usually wear a saree as we have a dress code but on this day I wear one but I avoid alta and turmeric.”
Reena who has grown up children is a housewife in her mid- forties. “It brings back old memories of when I became a bride and the romance surely ignites.