Kartik Purnima – Festival of Pride & Dignity


By Himanshu Guru: While ‘Kartik Purnima’, the full moon day in the month of Kartika, marks the birth day of Lord Kartikeya and end of the most auspicious month across the year, this ‘Dev Dipawali’ day can be epithet as the festival of Pride and Dignity for Odias in relation to the ancient history of the state.

Kartik Purnima is the occasion, when the Odia merchants were setting out for a voyage to trade in distant islands like Bali, Java and Sumatra, when Odisha was known as ‘Kalinga’. Even today, a grand festival like ‘Bali Yatra’ is being organized to commemorate the past glory.

In 2012, Kartik Purnima is being observed today on 28th November. Since the Kartik month is regarded as the most sacred time right through the year, people perform several rituals to take home divine blessings. They take holy dip early in the morning during the whole month and the event is followed by visit to the temple. The process finally ends on the Kartik Purnima day. In Odisha, the people, who could not take the holy bathe for the whole month, at least perform the ritual on the full moon day and then visit different temples to obtain divine blessings.

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‘Kartik Purnima’ is named after Kartik, the handsome and warrior son of Lord Shiva, who also became the Army-Chief of the Devas to kill the demon Tarakasura. Since Lord Shiva killed the demon Tripurasura on this day, this full moon day is also known as ‘Tripurari Purnima’, which derives its name from Tripurari – the foe of the demon Tripurasura, an epithet of God Shiva.

‘Kartik Purnima’ is also referred to as, Dev-Diwali or the festival of lights of the Gods. It is also the birthday of Matsya, Lord Vishnu’s first incarnation as a fish to save the sages. It is also believed that Krishna and Radha performed ‘Rasa’ on this day. Again, this day is also dedicated to the dead ancestors. The last five days of the month is regarded more sacred as compared to the whole month and these days are together known as ‘Panchuka’.

Bali Yatra, which is said to be the largest fair of Odisha, begins on Kartik Purnima and lasts for a period of seven days. The festival is held in the sands of river Mahanadi in Cuttack to mark the glorious past of the state as in the ancient days Odia merchants were sailing to Indonesia and Srilanka for trading, on large vessels called ‘Boita’. The scientific reason of starting the voyage on Kartika Purnima is to take advantage of the favorable wind that blows during this time.

However, people of Odisha have maintained the same glory even today. Many Odias have established themselves in bright positions in other states as well as in foreign countries. While in Bangalore, Delhi and Mumbai we have witnessed the presence of strong Odia communities, the same trend can also be seen in the US and UK. It is always expected that people of Odisha will shine elsewhere in the world and bring laurels to the state.

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