Ganjam district is abuzz with activity ahead of Kumar Purnima on Monday.
One of the major attractions of Kumar Purnima here is gambling. Gambling also marks the Laxmi puja celebrations in the district.
Gambling during Kumar Purnima and Laxmi puja is a tradition here and it begins a fortnight prior to Durga Puja and continues till Diwali. While a few indulge to uphold the tradition, some consider it an occasion to make fast money. Night-long gambling is more like a ritual, encouraged even by parents. While Goddess Mahalaxmi is worshipped during the day, gambling dominates the festivities at night. Regardless of changes in fortune, people of the district have an urge to try their luck in the number game. Many believe the Goddess of Wealth can be invoked only through gambling. Interestingly, people go for gambling wearing new clothes.
“The popular belief is that gambling on Laxmi Puja day brings in wealth and prosperity. If one hesitates in taking part in the game, it bodes ill and those who do not indulge in gambling are born as owls in their next birth. However, gamblers stretch it to over a month,” said a social activist.
Temporary gambling dens proliferate in all villages and semi-urban areas of the district.
Men and women of all ages participate in the game of cards. The stakes range from ` 1 to over lakhs. Sometimes valuables are also staked.
There are also interesting traditions attached to the ritual. The most popular is the ‘gambling allowance’ that a man gifts his son-in-law, to participate in gambling.
Children are provided money by parents to gamble among friends. ‘Kampi’, ‘Set’, ‘Nox’, ‘Sequence’ and ‘Pata’ are the most popular card games. Children can be seen testing their fortune at various games like ‘gudugudupali’ and other mini casino games in Gosani Nuagaon, where a gambling fair comes up on the streets during Laxmi puja.
And keeping up with this tradition, many shopkeepers in the Silk City have started lottery schemes for the customers.
On the flip side, it is during this period that incidents of snatching and robbery increase in the region. For the last 10 days, the city has experienced a rise in such incidents. As many as 400 persons have been nabbed from various corners of the district and a total of ` 1 lakh has been seized from their possession.
Stolen goods like cycles, two-wheelers and household articles too have been found from them.