Bhubaneswar: Sudasa Brata is unique to the state of Odisha and observed by married women. All the rituals are dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi.
This festival is celebrated on the day, when Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon), Thursday and Dasami fall on the same day.
The most important aspect of the brata is the sacred thread, which women tie on their right arm after giving it a ritualistic dip in turmeric water. Ten knots, uttering 10 different names of Maa Lakshmi, are made on the thread. The women are required to keep the thread tied to the arm till the next Sudasha Brata, when it is replaced with a new one.
The 10 knots are given uttering these names of Maa Lakshmi: First knot (pratham ganthi) – Lakhmi Narayani Second knot (dutiya ganthi) – Kaman’ Third knot (thrutiya ganthi)-Srihari ra Priyaa Fourth knot (chaturtha ganthi) – Padmalayaa Fifth knot (panchama ganthi) – Kamalaa Sixth knot (sasta ganthi) -Chanchalaa Seventh knot (saptama ganthi) – Bighnaseni Eigth knot (astama ganthi) – Sindura Dulani Nineth knot (nabama ganthi) – Durgati Naashini Tenth knot (dashama ganthi) -Vishnu Paataraani
Ten seems to be the magic mantra of this festival as the goddess is offered 10 flowers, 10 manda pithas (cake), 10 chenna bhog, 10 duba (scutch) grass and as many gooseberry (bara koli) leaves and rice grains.
Legends believe that Goddess Lakshmi resides in the houses where cleanliness prevails, hence the night before the puja, the entire house is properly cleaned and a solution of dung water for the sake of purification is sprinkled throughout the house. After it dries, women draw colourful chittas and jhotis (a watery mixture prepared with rice grains) all the way from the entrance of the house.
The next morning, the rituals start before the sunrise, preferably during the Brahma Muhurta. The idol of Goddess Lakshmi is placed over a small wooden pedestal. A kalash filled with water is kept over dhanas (grains of paddy). A mango twig with ten leaves cleaned thoroughly is placed atop the kalash.
According to folklore, Sudasha Brata has been in practice by women since the Satya Yuga. The wife of King Vikramasena, Queen Ratnabati and Minister Trikuteswar’s wife, Padmabati, while wandering together saw a group of Apsaras performing the rituals of Sudasha Brata. Out of curiosity they enquired about its significance from them.
Without wasting much of their time, the Apsaras explained the duo about the importance of the puja to the duo and the rituals about how they invoked Goddess Laxmi for prosperity, wealth and well-being. Ratnabati and Padmabati made up their minds to observe the rituals on the auspicious date of Shukla Paksha, Thursday and Dasami.