Kartika Brata a month long festival started in Odisha. Thousands of devotees especially elderly Odia women and widows from every corner of Odisha are gathering at Puri Jagannath Dham. Puri town is now the home for the devotees, staying different ashrams and mathas to continue their brata.
Devotees serve their beloved Lord Jagannath and Lord Shiva respectively and carry out special rituals associated with the month, called Habisha. In fact, the group of devotees known as habishalis is being joined by a number of younger women.
The women wake up at around 2 am in the morning and bathe in cold water. They then perform the ‘baluka puja’ in which they draw patterns out of natural powdered colour in front of the ‘tulasi choura’ or basil plant and blow conch followed by ‘hulahulis’. They then worship Radha Damodara in groups through various traditions such as playing kowdi and read chapters from the Kartik Purana, a holy text read during this month.
The Odisha government for the first time has made lodging and mahaprasad arrangement for about 2,000 elderly women devotees who perform Kartik Brata at Sri Jagannth Temple at Puri. They will be given lodging facilities besides safe drinking water, health, sanitation and other basic facilities.