Dola Purnima: Its Significance in Odisha

The Festival of Colours.

Courtesy OdiaPortal.IN

Dola Purnima or Holi is a popular festival of Odisha. It is the full-moon day in the month of Falguna (March). Through the festival the spring is welcomed and enjoyed with mirth and merriment. This festival has been referred to in the puranical texts as Basantotsaba or the spring-festival. Some scriptures testify that the Madanotsaba, the festival held in honour of Madana or the Cupid was later transformed as the Dolatsaba or swing-festival of Krishna. Therefore, Krishna is propitiated on this occasion as Madanamohana. Description of the festival as Dolatsaba finds mention in a number of puranas and other Sanskrit texts.

Dola Purnima is a popular festival in the coastal districts of Odisha. Lord Jagannath is worshiped as the name of Dolagovinda  in this festival. On this day Odia calendar (Panji) becomes ready and it is worshiped on  Dolabedi in front of Dolagovind . It is the full-moon day in the month of Falguna. Through the festival the spring is welcomed and enjoyed with fun and happiness.

An ancient Hindu myth is associated with celebration of  Dola. There was once a demon king by the name of  Hiranyakashyap who won over the kingdom of earth. He was so egoistic that he commanded everybody in his kingdom to worship him. But to his great disappointment, his son Prahlad became an ardent devotee of Lord Naarayana and refused to worship his father. He asked his sister, Holika to enter a blazing fire with Prahlad in her lap. Treacherously, Holika coaxed young Prahlad to sit in her lap and she herself took her seat in a blazing fire as she knew that she will come out of fire unscathed while Prahlad will die. Holika was not aware that the boon worked only when she entered the fire alone. Prahlad, who kept chanting Vishnu Nama all this while, came out unharmed, as the lord blessed him for his extreme devotion. Thus, Holi derives its name from Holika. And, is celebrated as a festival of victory of good over evil.
The idols carried in veemanas from a number of villages assemble in an important place where swings are fixed on a platform. They are made to swing to the accompaniment of devotional music sung in chorus. In olden days the beginning of the new year vvas calculated from the spring-season.
There is much fun and merriment in the festival. In some places the burning of the straw hut is known as Mendhapodi or the burning of a ram. A legend attached to it says that a demon known as Mesha was causing terror in the Heaven and Earth, Gods as well as human beings prayed Krishna to rescue them from his atrocities. Krishna killed and burnt him to ashes. It is, therefore to reminiscent this event that a hut is burnt which represents the abode of the demon. In many places of the State big fairs are arranged where idols of the deity are assembled. These fairs are called ‘Melana’. The Veemanas of the surrounding villages are placed in a row for public view .Keen competition is observed in the decoration of the veemanas. When all the expected veemanas reach the place, display of fire-works takes place and this is watched by thousands of enthusiastic crowd. In the fairs agricultural implements, commodities, household articles and furniture are bought and sold. Such Melanas or Fairs continue till the month of Chaitra in different places of the district of Nayagarh  Cuttack, Puri and Ganjam.
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