Festivals are indeed a big part of Indian culture and tradition. Odisha is a state in India known for its exclusive temples and festivals. One of the festival among them is ‘Jhamu Jatra’.
Jhamu Jatra is a unique festival that showcases the rich culture heritage and religious diversity of Odisha. It is also a testimony to the power of faith and devotion that can overcome any obstacle.
Where can it be seen- It is believed to be originated from Maa Mangala Temple in Kakatpur of Puri district of Odisha, but observed across all the shakti shrines of the state.
When is it celebrated- It is celebrated every year on the occasion of Pana Sankranti or Odia new year.
The temple rituals– Goddess Mangala take holy bath (Marjana) by the servitors at around 3.00 am and the devotees are allowed to have darshan at 4.00 am.
Men are dressed like women, carrying Maa Sarala from village to village in these sunny days and dancing to the the rhythmic beat of ghanta. After each performance they distribute vermilion among the people as Mother Goddess’ blessing and villagers offer them with food and money.
The tradition of walking on fire
Those men who are walking on fire are called ‘Ghanta Patua’, the non-Brahmin sevaks of Dieties and obsering the Jhamu Brata throughout the month of Chaitra. They keep on moving whole month with Ghanta(representation of Diety) and return to their respective shrine for their annual celebration on Maha Bishuba Sankranti to complete their brata by traditional way of walking on fire.
They say, let your faith be bigger than your fears. On this occasion, devotees called “patuas”(holy devotees) collect sacred water in an earthen pot from river or water bodies and then walk on the burning wood charcoal filled in a channel. They wear picturesque costumes put fire in mouth and walk bare footed over charcoals which is a part of the ritual during the festival. It is believed that the blessings of the Diety save the devotees to be unhurt and uninjured while walking on the fire charcoal.
When will it happen- It occurs on the first Tuesday of the sacred month of Vaisakh (April 14 to May 15) every year.
Once a village festival now days visible in urban areas by devotees by keeping the tradition active even today. The tradition of walking on fire(Jhamu Jatra) has been practiced by many people and cultures in all parts of the world. It is often used as a rite of passage, a test of an individual’s strength and courage, or in religion as a test of one’s faith.