The Legend of Kojagori Lokkhi Pujo
Five days after Maa Durga leaves for Kailash, leaving the mortal Bengalis in a state of melancholy gloom, every household in the State gears up to welcome and worship Maa Lokkhi (Lakshmi) in their homes. Considered the Goddess of prosperity and wealth, Maa Lokkhi is described as ‘chapala’ (fickle minded) who does not like staying at one place for long.
Just like Saraswati Pujo, there is a Ghoti-Bangal divide in the worship of the Lokkhi as well. The full moon night (purnima) of Ashwin (sixth month of Bengali calendar) is called Sharad Purnima. Maa Lokkhi is generally worshiped on this day (night to be precise) as Kojagori (derived from ‘Ke Jago Re’ meaning ‘who is awake’).
Legend says, Maa Lokkhi descends on earth at night, and visits every household to check who is awake and is performing the broto-panchali, while drinking coconut water. She resides in those homes where the matriarch performs her Pujo at night. Hence, Sharad Purnima is also known as ‘Kojagori Lokkhi Pujo’. Since Maa Lokkhi is the Goddess of prosperity, she is worshiped on Sharad Purnima, just before the harvest season began.
Although the worship of Maa Lokkhi on Sharad Purnima is prevalent across Bengal now, it had its origin in Dhaka-Faridpur-Mymensingh region. This festival was mainly celebrated by Bangals. Ghotis normally worship Mahalakshmi on the night of Deepavali. However, after Partition, as people migrated from East Bengal to the West in large numbers, this festival slowly crept into the social calendar of Ghotis also.
The special tradition of Lokkhi Pujo is to worship her in the form of ‘Lokkhi Shora’ (earthen discs with paintings of Lokkhi on them). In some regions, they fill paddy in earthen pots and worship them as Lokkhi (signifying bountiful harvest), while some people worship her by making kola gachher bhela (boats carved from the stem of banana tree). With the passage of time, idol worship has gained prominence.
Lokkhir Shora (Image: Bengal Art Facebook Page)
Alpona (designs made with rice paste) forms an integral part of Lokkhi Pujo. Women draw her feet in front of all the doors in the house. Beautiful designs can be seen painted in many rural households of Bengal. Food is also an integral part of Lokkhi Pujo – Ghotis offer vegetarian khichuri-labra bhog to Maa Lokkhi, while many Bangal households worship her with jora-ilish. In some homes, bhog consists of sweets like til and naru.
It is evident that like most festivals in Bengal, Lokkhi Pujo also has a social relevance. Art, culture and food are as integral to this festival, as are the rituals and mantras. Hope this spirit of diversity thrives on and Maa Lokkhi makes Bengal prosperous.
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