PURI: After a year, Kumar Purnima festival was celebrated with traditional fervour in the Sri Jagannath temple in presence of devotees on Wednesday. The Srimandir was closed for devotees last year due to the pandemic.
However, with COVID cases dwindling and life returning to normal, the Sri Jagannath temple, where the festival is celebrated in a unique manner, was kept open for devotees from 7 am to 9 pm on the day. As per tradition, the ritual of 'Kauri Khela' (dice game), a form of gambling between Lord Jagannath and his consort Mahalaxmi, was performed at the shrine.
Earlier, the servitors escorted Mahalaxmi to the sanctum sanctorum of the temple where ‘Kauri Khela’ was played atop the 'Ratna Singhasan'. Conventional coins called 'Kauri' (small conch cells) were used in the game.
The game is played by servitors on behalf of Lord Jagannath and Mahalaxmi. As per tradition, Lord Jagannath concedes defeat in the final game following which he is imprisoned by Mahalaxmi’s servitors in the Mahalaxmi temple on Srimandir premises for a week.
Gambling on the day is considered auspicious and locals indulge in the practice till late in the night. Kumar Purnima is dedicated to unmarried girls who wear new clothes on the occasion. In the evening, the girls offer 'Chanda Chakata', a sweetmeat made of cheese, lia and khai besides flowers to the moon.
Meanwhile, with easing of restrictions, the inflow of tourists to the holy town has increased in the last few days. Hotel rooms are being rented on premium tariff. The season has energised those engaged in the hospitality industry, said secretary of Hotel Association of Puri RK Patra.