Jhamu Jatra: A Unique Festival of Faith and Fire

Jhamu Jatra: A Unique Festival of Faith and Fire

Jhamu Jatra (Odia: ଝାମୁ ଯାତ୍ରା) is a festival celebrated every year on the occasion of Pana Sankranti or Odia New Year at Maa Sarala Peetha, a famous shrine dedicated to Goddess Sarala, located in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha. The festival is also known as Jhamu Yatra or Jhamu Parikrama.

Maa Salara for Jhamu Jatra

The main attraction of the festival is the ritual of walking on fire by the devotees, who are called Jhamu Sanyasis. These devotees observe a month-long penance and abstain from eating non-vegetarian food, onion, garlic, and salt. They also wear saffron clothes and smear their bodies with ash. They carry a bamboo pole with a pot of holy water on their shoulders and a bunch of peacock feathers on their heads.

Jhamu Jatra

On the day of Jhamu Jatra, these devotees gather at the temple premises and walk barefoot on a bed of burning charcoal, which is spread over a distance of 10 to 15 feet. They believe that by doing so, they will be blessed by the Goddess and their sins will be washed away. They also offer coconut, flowers, and vermilion to the Goddess.

Jhamu Jatra of Sarala Peetha

The festival attracts thousands of people from different parts of Odisha and neighboring states, who come to witness this spectacle of faith and fire.

Jhamu Yatra of Maa Sarala

The festival is believed to have originated from a legend that says that once a king named Indradyumna wanted to worship Goddess Sarala at her shrine, but he was stopped by a group of Jhamu Sanyasis, who claimed that they had exclusive rights to worship the Goddess. The king challenged them to prove their devotion by walking on fire. The Jhamu Sanyasis accepted the challenge and walked on fire without any harm. The king was impressed by their faith and granted them the privilege of worshipping the Goddess first on Pana Sankranti.

Jhamu Jatra is a unique festival that showcases the rich cultural heritage and religious diversity of Odisha. It is also a testimony to the power of faith and devotion that can overcome any obstacle.

N.B.: All these photographs are taken by Manas Muduli.

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