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Prathamashtami festival celebrated on the 8th day after Karthik Poornima

One of the many aspects of the Hindu culture is the emphasis it gives on the firstborn or the eldest child. Ram, the Maryada Purushottam, was the firstborn. Yuddhisthira was the eldest of the Pandavas, though technically Karna was a firstborn. Raja Harishchandra too was a firstborn. As per our Hindu tradition, the first born or the eldest child takes all the responsibilities of the family after the death of the parents. It is him, who is looked upon as the guardian of the family who is the most responsible person to bind the family and carry out his duties.

In Odisha, the 8th day of the dark phase of the moon in the Margashirsha month is famous for the third-most popular festival of the Odia culture- Prathamashtami (Pratham + Ashtami). It is celebrated on the eighth day after the Kartik Poornima.

The ceremony is a religious rite observed for the well being of the first child, be it a son or a daughter (anybody sensing women empowerment here?). The ritual involves the Aarti of the first child by the mother and other relatives, especially the females. During the rituals, Ganesha, Shashti Devi & the family deity/Kuldevta/Kuldevi are worshipped.

As a customary tradition, gifts are sent for the first born by the maternal uncles.

The social significance of this festival is that the firstborns are brighter, more obedient, loyal and tradition-bound. As per the Hindu culture, after the parents, the firstborns are the guardian of the family.

The signature delicacy for this ritual is "ENDURI PITHA" or "HALDI PATRA PITHA". It is a kind of steamed dumpling. The batter is put on a piece of "HALDI Patra" (turmeric leaf). The stuffing in the form of coconut, chhena, jaggery, cardamom powder, and black pepper is put inside it and it is then steamed.

The heavenly aroma of the turmeric leaves steaming spreads throughout the whole house.

Written by: Saswat Routoy

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