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Dec. 8, 2020, 7:55 p.m. by Dr Gayatri Mohapatra ( 288 views)

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A few days before prathamashtami,it is a common sight to see people in Orissa buying turmeric leaves in bunches for the festival of Prathamashtami which falls on the ashtami tithi of margashira month.The turmeric plants flourish around this time & to honour the firstborn in every household,"enduri pitha" is made with a batter stuffed with sweet filling of coconut,cottage cheese & jaggery,wrapped in turmeric leaves and steamed.

The ritual involves Aarati of the eldest child by the mother and other female relatives and Ganesha, Shashti devi and the family deity are worshipped. Traditionally, the new clothes along with sweets and other delicacies arrive from the mamu’s (maternal uncle) home, who are called ‘astamibandhu’ alongwith a visit to the uncle’s place for a feast of mua, khiri, dalma and pitha .

Lord Lingaraj emerges from his sanctorum in a palanquin to visit a tank called Papanasini on his way to Kapalimatha, his maternal uncle’s house.

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Papanasini Tank story: According to legend, a sage named Sajoti performed severe penance here without taking food and water for a long time. Satisfied with his penance, Lord Siva appeared before the sage and told him to ask for a boon. The sage requested Lord Siva for a kunda (tank) that would cleanse the sins of human beings. Then the Lord created this tank, which is known as Papanasini.

The presiding deities of the kapila matha are Lord Baruneswar and Goddess Banadevi,the maternal uncle and aunt of Lord Lingaraj.

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Prathamastami mornings are filled with the aroma of turmeric leaves, smell of marigold flowers and the sound of the conch in every Oriya household.

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