The fasts in
contradistinction to the fairs and festivals are under taken by individuals in
fulfillment of personal vows-either for one's own personal interest or in
interest of one's loved ones. The fasts are of two kinds. The 'Brata' (vrata) is
a fast undertaken in fulfillment of a vow made both men and women, whereas the 'Osha'
is the fast which is undertaken only by women.
Bada Osha is essentially a major occasion of fasting.
Orissa thousands of people gather at Dhabaleswar, Temple of Lord Mahadeva, in
rocky islands in the midst of the river Mahanadi near Cuttak for fulfillment of
boons. It is celebrated on the fourteenth of Kartika (September-October). This
fast is also observed by men.
Mana Basa or Gurubara Osha
At the time when the paddy in the low-lying fields is ripe and harvesting has
begun. Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth has blessed the cultivator and is to be
thanked and the family members rejoice in the bounty.
It is a weekly celebration
of the worship of the goddess with varieties of cakes and other delicacies every
Thursday which is considered to be the day of Lakshmi. The goddess is
represented by a special variety of whitish paddy put in a grain measure ('Mana').
The lady of the house fasts and worships the goddess. Only the members of the
family can partake of the oblations. Otherwise, goddess Lakshmi may leave the
household of the worshipper. The concluding festivities of the last Thursday of
the month are most elaborate.
Savitri is the deified virtuous woman who had brought back her husband to
wife by doggedly pleading with the God of Death, Yama. By observing the fast on
the new moon day of the lunar month of Jaishtha, the married woman seeks
Savitri's grace for making her husband live as long.
Young girl's worship goddess Mangala in the morning of every Sunday in the
month of Bhadrava. They believe that this God has the power of perform miracles
of curing leprosy and other virulent diseases and the God is revengeful if
one forgets to observe one's fast, after obtaining a boon.
Jahmi or ridge-gourd is a forbidden fruit for the unmarried girls in the
month of Bhadrava. The goddess Vrundavati who is located in the basil
plant (Tulsi) is worshipped in this month. The Goddess is also credited with the
power of unmarried girls of leprosy and a punishing the unbelievers especially
married women, by inflicting death upon their children.
Shathi or Shasthi is the powerful goddess presiding over the destiny and
welfare of all children. It is believed that she writes the child's future on
its forehead on the sixth day after the birth of the child. She is worshipped on
the sixth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Bhadrava by
the mother and neighbouring family women. When the goddess pleased, she has
been credited with restoring life to dead children.
This is a fast observed by married women only for worshipping the
images of Uma and Maheswar made of sand. It is celebrated on the third day of
the bright fortnight of Bhadrava. According to the myth in the Padma Purana,
Parvathi had observed this fast and was married to Shiva. In other myth
Lord Rama had worshipped the Divine couple for securing their favour in winning
the war against Ravana. Young men on this day have the liberty of striking the
roofs of the houses with sticks and of removing stone-steps from the door believing
that the curses of people will be turned into blessing that day.