Manabasa Gurubar is a popular Odia festival celebrated on the Thursdays in the Odia/Hidusthani month of Margasira. Women of Odisha worship Goddess Laxmi in their houses in this occasion.
The festival is about worshipping Goddess Laxmi. Western Odisha calls it ‘Margasira Gurubar’ or more clearly, ‘Magsir Gurbar’.
Preparation for the festival already begins from the previous night. The houses are made clean and entrances of the house are plastered with either cow-dung paste or red soil.
Beautiful sketches are drawn on it to welcome the Goddess. This is called ‘Jhoti’ in odiya and ‘alpana’ in Hindi. Popular contents of ‘Jhoti’ include ‘Laxmi-Paada’, the footprint of Goddess Laxmi, Lotus, Her favorite flower and other figures.
Women awake early in the morning on the Thursday, further clean the house with a broom-stick takes bathe, wears clean clothes and worship the Goddess offering Her a sacred meal. This offering is later taken as ‘Prasad’ by the family members.
It is a popular belief that ‘Prasad’ of Goddess Laxmi is not shared with outsiders and only consumed by the original family members.
There is also a legend attached to the festival that how Goddess Laxmi, the spouse of Lord Jagannath, visits the house of an untouchable woman ‘Shriyaa Chaandaaluni’ and hence later driven away from the house, but later again accepted with extreme regard. One ritual of the festival includes either reciting or listening to this story called ‘Mahalaxmi Brata kathaa’ or ‘Manabasa Gurubar katha’ scribed in a handy book.
Odia film Director Sabyasachi Mahapatra has presented the story of this festival in his film ‘Jai Jagannath’ released in 13 languages.
‘Manabasa Gurubar’ is celebrated on 17th, 24th of November and 1st and 8th of December, on the four Thursdays in the ‘Margasira’ month of 2011.