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Gamha Purnima and Raksha Bandhan: Rituals and Ceremonies in Odisha

Last updated :
June 24, 2024

minutes read

In Odisha, the festivals of Gamha Purnima and Raksha Bandhan are celebrated with a unique blend of rituals, ceremonies, and joyous family gatherings. These festivals, which honour sibling bonds and agricultural traditions, reflect the rich cultural heritage of the region.

A sister tying a rakhi on her brother's wrist, symbolizing Raksha Bandhan
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Historical Background

Gamha Purnima, also known as Rakhi Purnima in Odisha, is celebrated with great enthusiasm across the state. This auspicious day is the birthday of Lord Balabhadra (Balarama), the elder brother of Lord Jagannath. The festival is marked by various rituals and ceremonies at the Jagannath Temple in Puri and other parts of the state. Raksha Bandhan, traditionally observed on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Shravan, symbolises the protective bond between siblings and has been integrated into the celebration of Gamha Purnima in Odisha.

Raksha Bandhan: Celebrating Sibling Bonds

Raksha Bandhan in Odisha focuses on the bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters tie a rakhi (sacred thread) on their brothers' wrists, praying for their well-being, while brothers vow to protect their sisters. This festival is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm in both urban and rural areas.

  • Rakhi Tying Ceremony: Sisters prepare a thali with rakhis, sweets, and a diya (lamp). They perform aarti, apply tilak on their brothers' foreheads, and tie the rakhi, praying for their well-being. Brothers, in turn, promise to protect their sisters and give them gifts as tokens of their love.
  • Aarti and Prayers: Sisters perform aarti and pray for their brothers' well-being.
  • Gift Exchange: Brothers give gifts to their sisters, reaffirming their bond of protection and love.

Rituals and Practices

A illustration depicting farmers worshipping their cattle during Gamha Purnima, with rakhis and garlands
  • Lord Jagannath Temple Rituals: At the Jagannath Temple in Puri, special rakhis are prepared for Lord Jagannath and his siblings. These rakhis are made by the Patara Bisoi servitors and are tied by Devi Subhadra on the wrists of Lord Jagannath and Lord Balabhadra. The colours of the rakhis are specific, with red and yellow for Lord Jagannath and blue and violet for Lord Balabhadra.
  • Gamha Purnima Celebrations: The festival marks the birth of Lord Balabhadra and involves various rituals. The idols of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra are adorned with gold ornaments, and the day is celebrated with much fervour.
  • Cattle Worship: Farmers worship their cattle, decorating them with rakhis and garlands, and prepare special dishes for them. This tradition highlights the importance of cattle in agriculture and the farming community's reverence for their livestock.

Unique Traditions in Odisha

Odisha's celebration of Gamha Purnima includes unique practices that reflect the region's cultural ethos. The festival often extends beyond the familial bond to include friends and community members, fostering a sense of collective protection and support.The festival is also marked by vibrant cultural performances, including traditional dance and music, which add to the festive atmosphere. These performances are often organised by local cultural groups and are an integral part of the celebrations.

Modern-Day Celebrations

With changing times, Gamha Purnima and Raksha Bandhan in Odisha have adapted to modern lifestyles. Many families now use digital means to send e-rakhis and virtual gifts, especially when siblings are separated by distance. Social media and video calls have made it easier for families to stay connected and celebrate together, even when they are miles apart. Despite these modern adaptations, the core essence of the festivals—love, protection, and unity—remains unchanged.

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Food and Delicacies

A festive dining area with a family enjoying traditional Odia delicacies like Pakhala Bhata, Chenna Poda, and Dalma, symbolizing Raksha Bandhan

Festive celebrations in Odisha are incomplete without indulging in traditional delicacies. Some popular dishes prepared during Gamha Purnima and Raksha Bandhan include:

  • Pakhala Bhata: A traditional dish made with fermented rice, served with curd, fried vegetables, and fish.
  • Chenna Poda: A popular dessert made with fresh cottage cheese, sugar, and cardamom, baked to perfection.
  • Dalma: A nutritious dish made with lentils and vegetables, flavoured with traditional spices.

Community and Social Impact

Gamha Purnima and Raksha Bandhan in Odisha also emphasise social responsibility and environmental consciousness. Many families use eco-friendly decorations and biodegradable materials for the celebrations. Community initiatives, such as tree planting drives and clean-up campaigns, are organised, reflecting the values of sustainability and social responsibility embedded in these festivals.


Gamha Purnima and Raksha Bandhan in Odisha are beautiful blends of cultural festivities, community unity, and traditional feasts, celebrating the bond between siblings while highlighting the region's unique traditions. The festivals not only strengthen familial ties but also foster a sense of community and environmental stewardship. By blending tradition with modernity, these festivals continue to evolve while preserving their core values of love, protection, and unity.


What is the significance of Gamha Purnima in Odisha?

Gamha Purnima marks the birth of Lord Balabhadra and involves rituals at the Jagannath Temple in Puri. It is also significant for the farming community, who worship their cattle on this day.

How is Raksha Bandhan celebrated in Odisha?

Raksha Bandhan in Odisha involves traditional rituals of rakhi tying, aarti, and gift exchanges. The festival is celebrated with joy and enthusiasm in both urban and rural areas.

What are some traditional foods prepared during Gamha Purnima and Raksha Bandhan in Odisha?

Traditional foods include Pakhala Bhata, Chenna Poda, and Dalma. These dishes are enjoyed during festive celebrations and reflect Odisha's rich culinary heritage.

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