Gamha Purnima: Rituals for Balabhadra Janma in Srimandir & Odisha


Puri: Gamha Purnima or Rakhi Purnima is celebrated with much fervour across the state. The festival celebrates the bond of love between brothers and sisters.

‘Raksha Bandhan’ tradition is not a part of our Odia Culture, but it has carved a special niche in our tradition.

Shravan Purnima is also known as Jhulana Jatra. It starts from Shravan-sukla-ekadashi and comes to an end on the Gamha Purnima. The idols of both Radha-Krishna are placed on a swing on this festival. Probably it has been a regular custom in every Vaishnava temple and math dedicated to Krishna since the 15th century.

Rakhi Purnima was celebrated on the holy occasion of Gamha Purnima, which is the birthday of Lord Balabhadra or Balaram, with all the rituals at Lord Jagannath Temple in the pilgrim town of Puri.

Although, Lord Jagannath along with his siblings Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra is being worshipped as Daru-Brahma at Srimandir Puri, like normal human beings, he follows all the rules and observes festivals. And on this day, Devi Subhadra ties rakhi on the wrists of her brothers Lord Balabhadra and Lord Jagannath.

On Gamha Purnima day, the birth ceremony of Lord Balabhadra is observed in Srimandir. All the six idols (Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, Bhudebi & Sridebi) on Ratnabedi are bejeweled with gold ornaments.

The term ‘Gamha’ is probably derived from the word Go-mata. According to the Harivamsa, Balaram was born from a cow named Rohini.

In Odisha, especially in Paralakhemundi, Nayagarh, Brahmapur and other parts, the birthday of Lord Baladeva is celebrated through a popular game known as Gamha-Diyan (The Gamha Jump). Actually it is a very integral part of Martial tradition of our state. The Paikas regarded this day as the most auspicious for commencing the practices of new warfare.

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