PRASTHAMASTAMI

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» East India
» Orissa
Region : Throughout Orissa
Place of Importance : The Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneswar
Deity : Sasthi Debi or Devi
Falls In : Eighth Day in the month of Margasira

Main Ritual
Prathamashtami is one of the most popular festivals of Orissa, peculiar to the region. This is the eighth day in the month of Margasira in which the eldest child of the family is honoured. He or she is given new clothes and is made to sit on a wooden pedestal ('Pidha').

In front of him/her an earthen pitcher, full of water is placed on handfuls of paddy. Above it a branch of mango leaves and a cocoanut is placed. Then, the mother or any other elderly lady wishes him /her long-life and good health by praying "Sasthi Debi" or Devi, the Goddess that protects children.

Social Significance
The social significance of this festival is that the first-borns are brighter and it is ultimately they who take up the burden of the family after the death of the parents. According to psychologists the first-borns are mostly healthy, obedient and tradition-bound. Therefore, the family tradition is maintained through them. For such obvious reasons the eldest child is honoured to occupy the respectable place in the family after the death of the parents.

A special variety of cake is prepared on this occasion, which is known as 'Enduri'. The cake is offered to the Goddess of Sasthi and then taken by all.

In the temple of Lingaraja at Bhubaneswar , the festival is observed with great devotion. On this day the representative deity of Lingaraja is taken out in a palanquin to a tank called "Papanasini", which is situated just behind the temple.




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