On the Sundays of the month of ‘Bhadrab’ or ‘Bhadra’ this festival is observed by the unmarried girls of the business community of the coastal districts of Odisha. During the festival Goddess Mangala is propitiated ‘Khude Bhaja” (Left out particles of rice that are fried), ‘Kantiali Kakudi’ (Cucumber having little thorns on it), ‘Lia’ (fried paddy), ‘Ukhuda’ (fried paddy sweetened by molasses) and coconut are the food-offerings given to the deity. However, the principal food offering is ‘Khuda’, which is said to be the favourite of the Goddess. Therefore, the festival is named as “Khudarankuni” or popularly ‘Khudurkuni’, which means one who is very eager for Khuda. In the early morning the girls go out collecting flowers required for the ritual. The varieties are ‘Kaniara’, ‘Godibana’, ‘Tagara’, ‘Malati’, ‘Champa’, ‘Mandera’ and ‘Kain’. Then they go to nearby rivers and tanks to have purificatory bath. After this they build tiny temples of earth or sand and decorate the same with flowers. Paying obeisance to the deity there, they return to their respective homes. They take two and half mouthfuls of boiled rice mixed with water without adding salt. Then salt is added. After this, the whole day is spent in making garlands and decorating the image of the Goddess.
In villages generally the deity is worshipped in the “Dhinkisala” or the place where paddy is pounced. This place is plastered neatly with cow-dung and the image of the deity is installed. The floor is painted with floral designs known as ‘Jhoti’ or ‘Alpana’. Garlands are made to hang like arches. The whole day passes with the arrangement and the rituals of worship commence in the evening. After the ritual, is over the girls recite musically the episode of ‘Taapoi’, which is now available in print. Earlier, this was handed down by oral tradition. ‘Taapoi’ is a legendary account of the sufferings and success of a ‘Sadhab’ (Sea trader) girl. lt also reminds us of the maritime glory of ancient Orissa, when there was seaborne trade with southeast islands of Java, Bali, Sumatra etc. The Sadhabas of Orissa were a prosperous community who had trade-links with many countries.
According to this tale, there were seven brothers in a prosperous Sadhaba family. Taapoi was their only sister who was also the youngest. Obviously they bestowed their love and affection on her lavishly. Her wishesand demands were fulfilled immediately. One day the little girl was playing with her friends with a winnow, made out of bamboo strips. A Brahmin widow of wicked nature scoffed at this. Being hurt the girl demanded a golden winnow to play and it was given. Again she demanded a moon of Gold. When it was half done her father died. When it was completed her mother died. By that time the family also became poor. The seven brothers then set out on their voyage to distant lands for trading leaving clear instructions to their respective wives to take special care of their lovely sister.
Soon after the brothers left the seven wives fell on the bad counsel of the Brahmin widow who impressed upon them that the cause of their poverty is the girl for whom they were so lavish. Soon they changed their attitude. She was not given good food or clothes. She was made to live on Khuda (left out rice particles) and was engaged to watch goats in the jungle. Inspite of unbearable torture she waited patiently for her brothers to return. The youngest sister-in-law was kind to her, but couldn’t come to her rescue because of the six others. Once as she was grazing the goats in the jungle, a goat named “gharamani” was missing. Taapoi started to cry and looked everywhere but she could not find it. On a place she saw many girls doing some kind of puja . She went there and asked them about it. The girls said “This is the puja done to Goddess mangala and whoever does it will get whatever she wishes.” There and there Taapoi asked the Goddess that if she finds “gharamani” then she will do this puja. True to that when she reached home she found “gharamani” there.
Amidst all sufferings Taapoi held her morale high. All the while she was praying Durga (‘Mangala’) for the safe return of her brothers. She worshipped the Goddess along with other girls and offered Khuda, as she had nothing else. Her sincere and devotional prayer yielded fruit and her brothers returned safely. They landed on the shore at night and while resting on the vessel they heard the wailing sound of a girl. Being curious as to who was crying they searched the area and found to their utter dismay, that she was none else than their dear sister. Seeing her brothers, her joys knew no bounds. The brothers heard all about her plight at the hands of their wives. To punish them they asked their sister to cut their noses. But, after sometime in the praying of Taapoi to the Goddess they got back their noses. Then all of them went happily home.
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