By: Saswat Routray
Dwitibahana Osha is one of the famous Osha observed in Odisha. It is observed on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the Lunar month of Ashwina (Ashwina Krishna Pakshya Ashtami Tithi). This Tithi is also known as Mula Ashtami or Mulashtami.
On this day, Odia mothers observe fast to invoke the grace of deity Dwitibahana for the long life, betterment & prosperity of their kids. Childless women too, worship Dwitibahana to be blessed with a child. It is said that once a lady observes Dwitibahana Osha, she has to observe it each year throughout her life, or at least till the age of 60.
The presiding deity ‘Dwitibahana’ is offered a variety of fresh vegetables and soaked legumes/pulses. On this day, 21 types of vegetables (which are available in that season) are offered, of which elephant wood apple (Ouu or Bel) is the star ingredient. They are kept on a KULA (made of bamboo stripes) & offered as Naivedya to Lord Dwitibahana. Along with vegetables, 108 durba grass, 108 akshat (unbroken raw rice), juintia (thread), fruits and flowers are also offered. On the very next day, mothers break their fast & after tying the juintia (sacred thread) on the wrist of their children.
These legumes, pulses and vegetables which are offered to the deity are kept overnight. They are considered as the ucchhista of the Deva and hence, treated as Prasad. Next day, these vegetables, soaked pulses, sprouted legumes, coconuts are used to prepare ‘Ghanta’ or ‘Ghanta Tarkari’, an Odia vegetarian delicacy. The ‘Ghanta’ which is also considered as prasad is consumed by the vrata-observing fasting women and their families. As ‘Ghanta’ is usually made in huge quantities, they are often distributed among the neighbors. The sprouts, raw banana and raw papaya used in this preparation are rich in folic acid which is usually prescribed by doctors to women who are trying to conceive. Folic acid is also very important for the early stages of foetal development. The day after Dwitibahana Osha is also known as Ghanta Dibasa for the occasion of Ghanta delicacy on that day.The day of Dwitibahana Osha is also observed as Devi Utthapana/Devyutthapana Utasav or Sahasra Kumbhabhisheka ritual of Devi Durga which marks the beginning of Sharadiya Sodashopachara Puja (also called Sola or Sixteen Days of Devi Puja) or Suniya at all the Devipithas in Odisha.