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Samba Dashami is a festival unique to the state of Odisha, India. It is celebrated on the 10th day of the Sukla Paksha of Pausha Masa or waxing phase of moon in Paush month (December – January) as per traditional Odia calendar. This festival is especially celebrated in the eastern part of Odisha.
According to legend, Samba, son of Lord Krishna, was afflicted by leprosy and was cured by the Sun God Surya after 12 years of penance near Konark. On this day, mothers pray to Surya for the health of their children.
On the day of Samba Dashami, the women in the family wake before sunrise. After bathing they prepare dishes such as Khichdi, Oriya Puri, and Ghadghadia Tarkari (a curry), and offer them to the Sun God at sunrise.. One of the specific characters of this ritual is variety of individual food item is offered to Sun God in the name of each member of the family, especially children. Once the food items have been offered to the Surya, the women prepare a set of cake-like dishes called Pitha (cake), which includes Manda Pitha, Kakara Pitha, Poda Pitha, Arisha Pitha, Biri Laddoo, Makar Chaula, Chhenaguda, Dhanu Muaan, Khiri, Rasagola, Jhilli, Chhenagaja, and Sweet Curd.
At noon, a bowl of turmeric water with betel in it is taken to ‘chaunra mula’ (a small temple-like structure with a Tulsi plant overhead). All the cooked food is served on plates. The women in the family view the Sun God through the bowl of turmeric water and offer all the dishes to the Sun God. They read the legend of ‘Samba Dasami Brata Katha’ and pray for the well-being of all family members.
In the evening, another Puja is observed as a part of the Samba Dasami ritual. This is ‘Mahakala Puja', in which special Budha Chakuli is offered to Yama.