Each year Kartika Purnima is celebrated with religious fervor throughout Odisha. On this day, people observe the ritual of ‘Boita Bandana’ by floating tiny boats, in ponds, rivers and other water bodies. This day marks the end of the Hindu holy month of Kartika (October-November).
In Bhubaneswar, thousands of devotees throng the banks of holy Bindu Sagar Lake in the wee hours of the morning for worshipping their ancestors and to float miniature boats. With thousands of these boats, each illuminated by a small diya, the Bindu Sagar lake front presents a scenic and mesmerizing view for any visitor, lucky enough to observe this spectacle. Many people also flock ponds and the river banks on the city outskirts hours before sunrise to set the boats afloat along with diyas.
The tradition behind this festival is as old as the State itself and is a reminder of the ancient glorious maritime trade traditions of Odisha.
The festival marks the first day of the sailing season when the ‘Sadhabas’ (Sea traders) sailed off to the distant lands of Java, Sumatra, Bali, Borneo, Ceylon, Daman and Diu for trade on huge boats named as ‘Boita’. The women of the community see them off with a prayer ‘Aa ka Ma Boi, Pana Gua Thoi, Pana Gua Tora, Masaka Dharama Mora’, for their safe return.