Prathamastami: A unique Odia event honouring firstborn children

by Subhechcha Ganguly
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Every year, households in Odia celebrate Prathamastami to honour the well-being and long life of the family’s firstborn.

‘Prathama’, which means first, and ‘Asthami,’ which means the eighth day, are two terms that make up the phrase ‘Prathamastami. Because it occurs on the Asthami tithi of Krushna Paksha in the Odia month of Margasira, the celebration is known as Prathamastami according to the Odia calendar.

On this day, the firstborns are worshipped and honoured. They are forced to consume various varieties of delectable pancakes and put on new clothing. Since the month of Margasira is known as “Agrahyana month,” the older child is in charge of taking care of the family.

ALso known as “Kal Bhairava Ashtami

 

As Kaal Bhairav is worshipped on this day, it is also known as Kaal Bhairava Ashtami or Paap-Nashini Ashtami.
The tenth episode of the Ekamra Chandrika also makes reference to the significance of the day. Shiva’s favourite festival is Prathamastami. Bel leaves known as “trisakha” are offered to Lord Shiva on this day.On the day of Prathamastami, Lord Chandrasekhar, the idol that stands in for Lord Lingaraj, is worshipped as the firstborn child and makes a ceremonial trip to his maternal uncle’s home.In a palanquin, Lord Lingaraj leaves his inner sanctuary and travels to his maternal uncle’s home, Kapalimatha, via a tank called Papanasini. The patron gods of this matha are Lord Baruneswar and Goddess Banadevi, Lord Lingaraj’s maternal uncle and aunt.

Relation with Shri – Krishna

According to folklore, demon king Kansa received a warning that Devaki’s eighth child will assassinate him. As a result, Kansa saved Devaki’s life but killed each child she had because his life was in danger. The first six sons she had were murdered by him. A miracle occurred while Devaki was carrying the eighth child. Yogamaya was called by Lord Narayan and instructed to deliver Devaki’s four-month-old foetus into Rohini, another Vasudeva bride. Krishna was finally born. He was the only survivor and the oldest child, despite being the seventh child. Since then, Prathamastami (the seventh and oldest) is thought to have been observed.

Prathamastami at Lord Jagannath Temple

On this day, Lord Jagannath holds a special ritual. Lord Jagannath’s maternal uncle is Madhabananda Jew. On Prathamastami, the family’s firstborn receives new clothing and treats from the maternal uncle.After the customary morning rituals, Lord Jagannath receives Baruna Puja on this day in the Jagannath temple in Puri.After being abandoned for a while, this ceremony has been revived. The silken khandua and patta that were sent to the deities from their uncle’s home.Breakfast for Jagannath and his siblings includes “Enduri pitha.” This unique rice dumpling is made especially for Prathamastami, once a year, and offered to the Trinity. It is filled with coconut and molasses and wrapped in turmeric leaves.

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