A Tale of Equality

In Odisha, it is believed that Goddess Lakshmi visits homes in the Indian month of Margasira. It is said that the Goddess leaves her temple abode and graces homes that are well kept and pious. Therefore thresholds and steps are decorated with intricate motifs made in rice paste to welcome her.

Legend holds that the Goddess, pleased with the devotion of an untouchable devotee Shriya – broke the prevalent rules of caste and graced the poor lady’s house. This was unacceptable to Lord Balabhadra – the elder brother of Lord Jagannath – the Goddess’s husband and beloved of Odisha. The upset brother-in-law asked her to leave their great temple. The Goddess enraged at the discrimination and the treatment meted out to her left the temple. The temple without its mistress stopped functioning. Lakshmi’s departure was followed by misfortune and dearth. Thus the land saw the Lord and his brother, roam around penniless and hungry.

As with all beautiful stories, wisdom prevailed. A repentant Lord Balabhadra asked for forgiveness and the Goddess returned to the temple. The legend is read out to this day in Odia households. Karu bows to this blessed land that talked about the evils of social inequality and gave women their rightful place.


December 12, 2018

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