Almost every rituals of Odisha potrays deities in human alike forms along with their humanly behaviour and yearnings. Devout eyes of Odia beholds Jagannatha as the Supreme entity of the Universe and all of a sudden treat him like his closest pal, abuses him devotedly lamenting on his situation. The very next moment adores him saying how beholden he’s for whatever he’s provided with and shy away from showing own face out of guilt. Such is the relationship between a Odia and his Aaradhya. Spring arrives waning the gloom of winter from men’s mind. Holi is the symbolic enthusism of this liveliness of spring. The festival commences with the play of colors with our very own deity on Dola Purnima.
Dola Purnima is apparently one of the vastly celebrated occasion of Odisha. Each and every rural and urban corners of the state assemble to play Holi with merriment. Hirarajpur of Khurda district celebrates the event in its own unique manner. Panchu Dola Melana is considered as the five-day gathering of deities commencing from Dola Purnima or till the Dola Purnima, but Harirajpur’s Melana is contrasting as it commences after five days of Dola Purnima or Fagu Purnima. It’s like though the humanly amusement is over, deities still craves more for the exuberance of the play.
Dola Purnima or Dola Jatra is the festival dedicated to the childhood antics of Lord Krishna. It’s further amusing to know that even Lord Shiva participates in the play here. Paschima Sambhu Somanath who’s the Thanapati (the presiding deity) of the village invites one hundred and eight godheads from nearby areas though the current participation number is seventy-six. Other four major Shiva of the area – Nilakantheswar, Somanath of Budhapada, Balunkeswar of Kantia, Gatiswar of Kusumati too attend this gala. This 383-year old custom was initiated by two local-dwellers of Harirajpur, Babaji Govardhan Das and Nitei Sahu in the year 1637. Legend says, when this duo was returning from Jagannathdham Puri attending majestic RathaYatra, they thought of having such a grand festivities in their own village. Though it was seemingly forlorn for a village to host this bold arrangement, they requested each villagers of own village and neighbouring villages to set aside a particular amount of nosh everyday for one year. In such way they could organize PanchuDola Melana in Harirajpur whose popularity still prevails across the country.
The entire event is close to a week-long celebration. It wouldn’t be wrong to utter this four-day festival is the annual festival of Harirajpur. Villagers adorn themselves with new attires and observe fasting on the day of gathering. With the aim to consecrate themselves, they assume Sattvik food throughout these four days.
Lord Chandrasekhar is the representive of Lord Somanath whose temple is bulit on the Melana Padia in around 1573. On the assigned day, represtative idols across Khurda are brought to the premises of Chandrasekhara temple in embellisheded palanquins, known as ‘Dola Vimanas’. No female idols participate in this gathering. The process of bringing idols to the one place is called ‘Kunja’ or ‘Jhankia’ and the whole process of sacred gathering is called ‘Jamana’. These processions are escorted much fanfare along with Sankirtana Mandalis, drums, trumpets, musical troupes, blaring of conch shells, shouts of ‘Hari Bol’, myraid traditional dances such as Ghoda Nacha, Medha nacha, fireworks and many more. The parade visits door-to-door when people smear colours to deities and offer bhog, known as ‘Chacheri Bhoga’. Deities congregate at the Jamana Padia where devotees shower the idols with Abira (colored powder). Deities stand in circular outline with Chandrasekhar at the center which resembles a Dev-Sabha or the assembly of divinity. The idols rest on the specific Pindis assigned to them at Harirajpur. Khai, Ukhadā, Chanā, Nabāt and Gajā are put in a earthen pots and served to the deities throughout these four days. Fireworks happening at late night entice thousands.
Fireworks are another prime attraction of Harirajpur’s Melana. Devotees here offer fireworks to the deities instead of any edible or financial offerings. Cracker dealers across the state gather at the spot and reserve particular area, known as Pāli. Devotee can hire a Pāli and offer crackers for god’s sake. On the night of Jamana, fireworks of around two crores worth are brusted all over the Melana ground. Moreover fireworks happen around 10pm onwards on every night of the fest.
On the Jamana’s night, an astrolosers reads out the new Odia almanac and discuss regarding the upcoming happening of the Hindu new year. The Marwadi community of the region organises Holipoda by setting huge straw hut on fire. Also Hari-hara Bheta is another attraction of the Melana. A huge statue of Shiva is made and placed at Melana ground. Saints of various sects also grace the event. Adharapana is also served to Somanatha. Devotees find themselves obligated consuming Adharapana and Dahipakhala bhoga provided by temple. After the colorplay on Jamāna, Mahāsnāna of Somanath occurs.
During this four-day event, a rural expo is organized. A special enclosure is assigned to merchants to vend cows, bullocks and other household products. Meera Baazar is opened to tempt children. Even though the fest ends in four days, the market presists for the entire month.
After the three days of Jamana, Melana concludes on the dawn of Chaitra Navami of waning phase of moon along with Harihara Bheta and with religious pomp and gaiety alike the Dola Jamana evening.
Here I’m adding a slideshow of seventy-six Vimanas gorgeously decked up with colourful appliqué cloth.