My Boat in the Canal
Every year I waited in anticipation for this day. I never realized if it was a family tradition or an annual ritual. “My boat is bigger than yours”, my elder brother would say. If I managed to get a similar sized boat next year he would then point out that his is more colorful than mine. Year on year, he found a way to prove his boat’s superiority over mine. The litmus test was on the waters. The boat which sunk sooner was the loser. Pinning my hopes on the brand new boat made of cork and colored paper, I eagerly used to wait for this day called Kartik Purnima.
This day is celebrated in the memory of the rich maritime history of the state. Odisha had links with Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Myanmar and Ceylon with sea trading being one of the prevalent occupations in the 6th century AD. Lakhs of Hindus across the state celebrate the boating tradition by floating indigenously made toy boats. These boats are sometimes accompanied by lamps, betel leaves, fruits and even coins as part of Hindu rituals.
Braving chilly winter mornings, the entire family wakes up before the break of dawn and goes to the nearest water body. For us, it was a small canal with low embankments on either side. A Shiva temple in the vicinity under the canopy of a 100-year-old Banyan tree took care of the post sailing rituals of prayers and offerings. While my parents wait at the temple, I and my elder brother keenly watched the survival battle between our two maritime comrades.
By Prof. Sugato Tripathy
Joint Director, KIIT Digital