SAMBALPUR: Durga Puja holds special significance for the sisters of Western Odisha.
The sisters of the region observed fast for ‘Bhai Juintia’ on Ashwina Suklapakhya Astami (eighth day of bright fortnight of Odia month Aswina) on Tuesday praying to Goddess Durga for long life, happiness and prosperity of their brothers.
On the auspicious day, both married and unmarried sisters begin their fast for 24 hours, even not drinking water, also known as ‘Nirjala Upabash’. As per the age-old tradition, a group of sisters gather at an open space in their localities and perform the puja with religious fervour. The sisters worship Goddess Durga at an open space, which is richly decorated with wild plants and flowers.
The fast will be broken on Wednesday morning when the sisters will take a dip in river or tank near their homes and touch a bunch of 108 strands of Duba (green grass) and 108 pieces of Arua rice wrapped up neatly in freshly plucked Sal leaf on the body of their brothers from head to toe and tie colourful Juintia (sacred thread) on the right hand of the brothers. They then offer delicacies and gifts.
The brother, on his part, invites his married sister to observe Bhai Juintia and to celebrate Dussehra at her parental house. Invitation from a brother to his sister is a special feature of this celebration.Irrespective of the distance, the brothers take pain in visiting the in-laws’ house or the place of residence of the sisters and extend them invitation and even accompany them for the festival.
The festival also presents married women with a happy opportunity to visit their father’s place and meet their brothers. The brother purchases new clothes for his sister as a part of the Bhai Juintia celebration and promises to protect her.But with changing times, these days sisters, in particular in urban areas, are offering puja to Goddess Durga at the nearest Puja pandal. In villages, sisters still get an image of Goddess Durga painted by the local artists on the wall of somebody’s house. They sit together in front of the image and perform the rituals of Bhai Juintia and invoke the Goddess.