Kendrapada, Sept 18 (LocalWire): A deity on a banana raft, floating on a swollen river with devotees queuing up in boats to pay obeisance with flower garlands that have currency notes attached, might seem a very unusual sight for a casual visitor to Batighar, a remote seaside village in Kendrapara district.
But the local settlers, whose principal occupation is fishing, cling on to this unconventional practice.
The village has plunged into religious fervor and festivity as the day-long worship of Goddess Manasha began today with customary enthusiasm.
The religious practice is as old as the settlement here, dating back to the Sixties.
People worship the goddess every year to ward off boat capsize mishaps and cyclonic storms.
The raft carrying the deity was set afloat the swirling Kharinasi rivulet as devotees offered garlands to the goddess seeking her blessings.
After worshipping the deity, the raft is allowed to drift downstream and the deity is bid farewell by blowing the conch-shells.
As the raft drifts away and disappears, devotees return home hoping that the goddess would save them from nature and sea’s fury.
The religious ritual is in vogue in villages of Ramnagar, Batighar, Jamboo, Kharinasi, Sanatubi, Badatubi, Nipania and Luimathia.
‘We worship the goddess ever year. People offer garlands with currency notes fixed to it.
We are saved from boat tragedies and cyclonic storms as She showers her divine blessings upon us,’ said a local resident Haripada Mandal.
‘I take active part in Manasa Devi Puja. I have travelled across the country as I am an employee of the lighthouse.
It’s a unique religious ritual. Nowhere in the country, have I come across such unconventional ritual,’ said Jayanta Chatterjee, the head light keeper of False Point lighthouse.