Maa Budhi Thakurani and Thakurani Jatra
Budhi Thakurani is considered as the Istha Devi of Silk City of Berhampur. As a child feels safe and secure in her mother’s lap, the inhabitants of Berhampur always have a secure feeling under the blessings of Maa Budhi Thakurani. Therefore, the people of the city worship the deity with great reverence, devotion, love and affection and have strong belief on the Goddess as their guard wall.
Thakurani temple is situated in Old Berhampur. A large number of devotees visit the temple and worship to the deity inside the shrines is a piece of stone cut in crude fashion and smeared with sindoor.Originally the Goddess was worshipped by the Dear people, a weaver community of Rajmuhendry on their set up at Berhampur in its early days. The temple presents a unique feature of close association between low caste people and main stream of Hinduism. Here,the priests are barber by caste where as devotees come from different castes.
Berhampur Thakurani is famous for its two year gaped yatra, is the festive scenario of Odisha. It is popularly known as Ghata yatra. Thakurani Yatra, it is the chief festival of Berhampur city and the southern Orissa as well. The month long festival is celebrated with a great pomp as the home coming of the Goddess in alternative years during in the month of Chaitra (March/April). The followed customs of focuses that the Goddess is conceived as a daughter given away in marriage, visits her father’s house in every two years. Her presence at home is celebrated as the festival period.
During these days the town gets festive look and colorful. The chief attraction during the festival are the giant images of different goddess and mythological figures displayed in decorated pendals called Rathas, folk dance rated forms and the caricaturing of different aspects called veshas.
Inhabitants of the city have emotional linkage with goddess Budhi Thakurani, the reigning deity of the city. They consider the deity as a divine daughter of the city. Her journey to Desibehera Street is compared to that of journey of a married daughter to her parental home. Most families of the city including the children and women are ready to do away with their sleep to witness the procession to carry the ghatam representing the deity BudhiThakurani from her temple to her temporary abode at Desibehera Street.
History Of Thakurani Jatra
According to some eminent historians, the cult of Buddhi Thakurani originated along with the emergence of Berhampur town in and around 1672 AD. Telugu Lengayat Dera (weaver) community, who came to Mahuri on the invitation of Raja Saheb of Mahuri to take up their profession of weaving, started their ‘Ghata Yatra’ (Pot Festival) for highlighting the divinity of Mahamayee Thakurani of his capital town Berhampur. The Chief of the Dera community, Kota Chandramani Kubera Senapati, led his community people to migrate to Mahuri and Berhampur who settle down into their hereditary profession of weaving tussar silken products or ‘patta matha’. The ‘Ghata Yatra’ was initiated for the purpose of highlighting the tradition of worshiping Thakurani as well as to use it as a platform for sales promotion of their silken products.
Thakurani Jatra of Brahmapur is hence an ancient one. It is held every alternative year. The Jatra is celebrated on the occasion of Thakurani going to her father’s house. The Actual date of induction of this Jatra is not known but it is learnt from a legend that during the sign of Mahuri Raja. Desi behera the head of the Dera (Patto weavers) community once on Tuesday midnight in the month of Chaitra saw a girl with disheveled hair and black sari. She was crying. When enquired, the girl told “i was going to my father’s house but lost the way”. At this Desi Behera told “I am like your father stay at my house tonight. In the morning you will go away”. Hearing this girl went towards a bush and vanished. He searched for the girl but the she could be seen nowhere around.
Like every other day the next day Desi behera went to the Thakurani temple with some flowers for worship. When he placed the flower s on the head of Thakurani they all dropped to the floor. Surprised he tried again and again only to meet his failure. In order to know the cause he prayed to the Thakurani. At last he heared an oracle,” you were worshiping me previously. But from yesterday you have became my father, being a daughter how I can accept worship from you”. He became apprehensive that Thakurani would remain unworshipped. Realizing Desi Behera’s apprehension, Thakurani mahamaya told “ I will not remain unworshipped. Whoever comes upon your return journey first, ask hom to worship me”. And the man whom Desi Behera met first was a Bhandari(Barber in caste). Being pleased he asked Thakurani Mahamaya “ is it my last visit to you ?" "No, I am your daughter, once in every two years you call on me I will go to your house and stay there for some days” said Thakurani . From that day Thakurani is coming to her father’s house with pomp and show.
This sojourn is popularly known as Thakurani Jatra. Coromonial invitation of Thakurani marks the beginning of the jatra. Preliminary preparation for the jatra takes place on the Shivaratri day. On an auspicious day the head of the dbuangi community observe fasting in the evening they assemble in the main temple and invite Thakurani. Desi behera and his wife after performing rituals at home take garland prepared from olela flowers in a changuda(Basket made of from bamboo swplits) in a procession to the main temple of the Thakurani . the garland is placed on the head of the duity. People of bhandari caste usually worship the deity. After the worshipping is done that garland is brought to the place of jatra by the Desi Behera near the residence a temporary house is constructed for the purpose. That garland is worshipped there. From the third day that garland is kept in a decorated ghata(earthen pot) and worshipped. With the main pot other eight pot s are also worshipped as side deities. From the day of ghata puja every night from eight to ten thakurani is taken in a procession. The main pot or ghata is carried on the head of the by the wife of Desibehera and the remaining eight pots by the other women. These nine women take only offered road to Thakurani during the jatra period. Every day the ghata is taken in a procession first to the residence of mahuri raja and then on to the main roads of Brahmapur. On the last day of the Thakurani jatra the ghata is taken to the main temple of the Thakurani. On this day any woman who has any thing in mind to get as a boon from the goddess joins the procession. About one lakh women with ghata participate in the grand procession.
During the jatra, some people decorate themselves by applying different colours and move on the streets of brahmapur. They do so as part of votive offering to the Thakurani. Mainly they are dressed like Tiger, Krishna, Ramachandra, Hanuman,Babaji(saint) etc. processions are also arranged by behalf of different streets people budha,circus programme,akhada,nanak,etc.