Thousands of Hindus participate in Odisha's traditional boat festival
Thousands of Hindu devotees enthusiastically celebrated the Boita Bandana ceremony (boat worshipping ceremony) on Wednesday on the occasion of Kartik Purnima.
People gathered at the holy Vindusagar pond in Bhubaneswar and set miniature boats afloat in the water to symbolize the voyages undertaken by their ancestors.
During the festival, which hails Odisha's glorious maritime past, people float beautiful miniature boats, with burning 'diyas' (earthen lamps) placed in them.
The day signifies an age-old tradition that is observed in the memory of those sailors who left for distant lands from Odisha.
"Today's ritual is related to the past history of Odisha's maritime culture. People used to go and do business in the Southeast Asian countries and in these winter months they will go to those places in these calm waters, currently that is happening and it is a ritual and has been imbibed into the culture as such. It is celebrated with lot of fervour and you can see the crowd out here and we are also here to stimulate the same culture, which has been left by our forefathers and enjoy the moment," said a devotee, Sibram Sahu.
According to a popular belief, it was on this day that ancient traders embarked from Odisha on arduous sea voyages to places such as Bali, Java and Sumatra Islands in Southeast Asia.
The sea traders of Odisha had established colonies in these islands for business and commerce.
"We bring boats and release them in the water bodies like Vindusagar or any other river or pond. This is considered to be sacred work," said another devotee, Durga Parasad Sahu.
The Kartik Purnima is also believed to be the most auspicious day to worship the Hindu god of destruction and transformation, Lord Shiva, and seek his blessings.