Cuttack: Prathamastami is a popular festival of Odisha. It is celebrated for the prosperity and long-life of the firstborn of every household. Prayer is offered to protect the child from all kinds of evils. On this occasion, the eldest child of the family is honoured with new clothes and a special sweet dish, enduri pitha.
Prathamastami is one among the myriad of festive occasions as well as the kaleidoscopic customs and traditions observed throughout the year. It is celebrated on Ashtami of the month of Margashira according to the Odia almanac. The auspicious occasion occurs after the eight day of pious Kartik Purnima. This sacred day is also known as Saubhagini Ashtami, Kaal Bhairav Ashtami and Papanashini Ashtami.
It is a quintessential Odia rite solemnised for the life and prosperity of the eldest child who is offered an ovation by the senior female members of household. The ritual involves Arati of the eldest child (be it son or daughter) by the mother and relatives in which the maternal uncle sends the items necessary for the rituals. Lord Ganesha, Goddess Shashti Devi and the presiding deity of the family are worshipped on the day.
Little has been found on the real reason behind why Prathamastami was declared a people’s festival around the 14th century. But, given our history of using rituals to instil ethics, new beliefs and works into the society, there may be a possibility that the need to create a festival that could instil the virtues of being responsible and holding up the ethos of a family was felt.
And, who better than the firstborn to do so. After all, even epics like Mahabharata refer the Jhesth Bhrata (eldest brother) as Pita (father) – and thus the obvious scion to the family legacy, values and responsibilities.
Also, during this time, the yield of good crops are noticed. And as a result of the good harvest, the farmers feel very fortunate and consider this their best time of the year. This celebration is evident that every traditional festival of Odisha holds some relativity with prosperity and goodwill.