BHAI JIUNTIA is a festival which celebrates the bond of affection between brothers and sisters. It is a day when sisters hold fast for the long life and prosperity of their brothers. This ceremony is one of the most interesting and loving ceremonies performed in Western Orissa (Koshalanchal). We can say it is the tribal version of Rakshya Bandhan. This festival falls on the eighth day of bright fortnight in the month of ‘Aswina’ which comes generally in the month of October.
The name Bhai Jiuntia suggests a bond of protection. Bhai means brothers and Jiuntia is a holy thread which binds the relation very tight. On this auspicious day, sisters pray to god for the protection of their brother from all evils. Meanwhile, brothers make promise to their sisters to protect them from all harms and troubles. In this occasion, sisters tie the thread called Jiuntia on their brothers’ neck and pray for their well-being.
During the Nabaratri, on the eighth day of fortnight, Jiuntia festival is observed by the sisters. On that day, they hold full day fast without taking a single drop of water and in the evening devotees offer their prayers to goddess Durga. Offering seven types of flowers and fruits, one hundred and eight holy grass and rice, coconut etc, they burn candle and started mass worship. Next day early morning they tie the thread called Jiuntia on the neck of their brothers.
This festival is an example of mass worshiping. There is a place called ‘Saintala’ in the Bolangir district, where more than three thousand devotees worship goddess Durga on the occasion of Bhai Jiuntia. So this ritual not only strengthens the bond of love between brother and sister and family but also it brings an opportunity of socialisation. “We have a committee which organised durga puja on the occasion of Bhai Jiuntia,” said Surendra Singh Bhoi, the president of puja committee.
“There is no such evidence from when this festival was started, but people belief that if they hold this festival goddess Durga will help their children. Thus they observed the Jiuntia fest,” said Ramachandra Tripathy, the local priest of Bolangir town.
“This is the age of science but we still belief that behind every success and happiness there is an invisible power. And we should respect that power,” said Dr Jyotirmayee Sahu, a devotee who hold fast.
This year Bhai Jiuntia festival was observed on October 14. Besides Bhai Jiuntia another Jiuntia called Pua Jiuntia is also observed in western Orissa. Pua Jiuntia is generally observed by mothers to invoke the grace of lord ‘Dutibahana’ for the long life and happiness of their brothers.