Farmers Of Odisha’s Themra Herald Harvest Season With ‘Dashmi Puja’

The gods are well rested after Chaturmasa, their four-month period of repose, and farmers in Western Odisha celebrated the occasion with ‘Dashmi Puja’ on Thursday.

On this day, the farmers invoke the gods, mother earth and household deities with offerings and seek their blessings for a good harvest. The puja is traditionally held on 10th lunar day in ‘shukla paksha’ (bright fortnight) in the Hindu month of Kartik. It also marks the beginning of ‘mangalika karya’ (auspicious work) related to the family.

This festival is popular at Themra village under Maneswar tehsil in Sambalpur district.

With the first light of dawn, the villagers start making preparations for the elaborate rituals. As per tradition, the women clean their houses early in the morning to invoke their ‘Kula Devta’ (presiding household deity). At sunrise, the male members of the family go to their fields and pray to mother earth with offerings of milk.

The festival sees prayers being offered to various deities at different places of the house. For instance, Nakul and Shahdev are worshipped in the cowshed. Then Handisal is worshipped in the kitchen by offering three fistfuls of rice on ‘Bilwa Patra’. This ritual symbolises the worship of Ishan (Lord Shiva).

Later, offerings of ‘Jau’ (made of rice and jaggery) and ‘Dudura’ (mix of moong dal and jaggery) are made to the Kula Devta, Raneswar Ramchandi, and other deities.

“This festival has a special place in our lives. It starts with ‘dev nimantran’ (invitation to gods). On this day, the puja rituals are performed by the male members of the family,” informed Jyoti Sahu, a resident of Themra. “There are some restrictions during this puja. We don’t talk in-between the rituals and don’t eat outside food among others,” she added.

Dilip Pradhan, a farmer, recalled, “Earlier, there used to be a single crop in a year. Therefore, the dependency on this single crop was very high .As Dashmi heralds the crop cutting season, farmers pray to the gods to bless them with good harvest.”

It is believed among the farmer community that Lord Vishnu and the other gods take rest from Ashadha Dashmi and they should not be disturbed. Therefore, no auspicious events such as weddings and thread ceremonies are held during these four months till Kartik Dashmi.

There are similar festivals in north India, Gujarat and Maharashtra, where sugarcane is the major crop. So farmers worship the sugarcane on the occasion of Devotthan.

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