Region : Throughout Orissa
Place of Importance
: The Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneswar
: Sasthi Debi or Devi
: Eighth Day in the month of Margasira
Prathamashtami is one of the most popular festivals of Orissa, peculiar to the region. This is the eighth day in the month of
Margasira in which the eldest child of the family is honoured. He or she is given new clothes and is made to sit on a wooden pedestal ('Pidha').
In front of him/her an earthen pitcher, full of water is placed on handfuls of paddy. Above it a branch of mango leaves and a cocoanut is placed. Then, the mother or any other elderly lady wishes him /her long-life and good health by praying "Sasthi
Debi" or Devi, the Goddess that protects children.
The social significance of this festival is that the first-borns are brighter and it is ultimately they who take up the burden of the family after the death of the parents. According to psychologists the first-borns are mostly healthy, obedient and tradition-bound. Therefore, the family tradition is maintained through them. For such obvious reasons the eldest child is
honoured to occupy the respectable place in the family after the death of the parents.
A special variety of cake is prepared on this occasion, which is known as 'Enduri'. The cake is offered to the Goddess of
Sasthi and then taken by all.
In the temple of Lingaraja at Bhubaneswar , the festival is observed with great devotion. On this day the representative deity of
Lingaraja is taken out in a palanquin to a tank called "Papanasini", which is situated just behind the temple.
This festival is celebrated for the well being of the first born in the family, whether boy or girl. The celebration falls on the eighth day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month of
Margashira. Oblations are offered to God Ganapathi to protect the child against all hurdles in life. The child is given a new dress, feasted and blessed by the parents and other elders and friends.