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Byanjana Dwadashi: How a 500-year-old festival in Odisha symbolises community, food security and balanced diet

  • Published
    22nd Feb, 2022
Context

Byanjana Dwadashi festival was celebrated recently in Odisha.

About

About Byanjana Dwadashi:

  • Byanjana Dwadashi is celebrated by adherents of Vaishnavism, the largest sect within Hinduism, which considers Vishnu and his incarnations such as Krishna as the Supreme Godhead.
  • The festival celebrates a variety of food (Byanjana in Odia) on the 12th day (Dwadashi) of the Sukla Pakshaor waxing phase of the moon in the month of Margashira (mid-December to mid-January).
  • Vaishnavites, through this festival, commemorate an episode of the Mahabharata where Yashoda observes that her son Krishna is pale and weak.
    • She realises that this is because of lack of proper nutrition at a time when Krishna has devoted all his energy in fighting demons.
  • In order to fulfill his nutritional requirements, she prepares a lot of delicacies and feeds him. Krishna is not the only consumer of these delicacies.
    • His friends, the Gopala Balakas or cowherd boys also eat with him.
  • This episode was re-enacted in the Vaishnava mutts of Puri by the medieval seer and mystic, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, after he reached Puri around 500 years ago.
  • This tradition of celebrating varieties of traditional food and sharing them has been going on since then and is prevalent in the Vaishnava mutts of not only Puri and other parts of Odisha, but throughout the country.

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