Dola Purnima is a Hindu festival of paramount importance in Odisha which marks the end of six-day swing festival of Radha and Lord Krishna.
The six-day festival known as Dola Jatra begins from the Falguna Dasami day. The idol of village deities, especially of Lord Krishna, is carried to all the homes in the villages on a decorated Veemana (palanquin). The people carrying the idols and those following it are semared with Abira (dry colours).
The procession is led by village drummers, pipers and the ‘Sankirtana Mandalis’ (a group of singers and musicians). The procession halts in front of each household and the deity is offered ‘Bhog’. On the final day of the Jatra, the celebration culminates in a swing-festival for the deities. The idols carried in Veemanas from a number of villages assemble in an important place (Melana Padia) where swings are fixed on a platform. They are made to swing to the accompaniment of devotional music sung in chorus.
As per ancient texts, one who gets a glimpse of Krisnha swaying in the swing is expiated of all sins.
At the world famous 12th century shrine on the auspicious occasion of Dola Purnima, the four deities inside the sanctum sanctorum of Lord Jagannath temple in Puri are decked up in Suna Besa seated on the ratna simhasan.
The Raja Dhiraj Besa or suna besa is much loved by the devotees as divine siblings are decked in gold jewelry embellished with diamond and gems taken out from the temple treasury.
Lord Jagannatha is worshipped as Dola Govinda during Dola Purnima and Lord Govinda with Goddess Sridevi are placed on the dola bedi.
Celebrated on the full-moon day in the month of Falguna, sevayats and devotees apply colours to them.
With this festival, the spring is welcomed and enjoyed with gaiety and fervour. It is also referred as ‘Basantotsaba’ or the spring festival in mythology.
On the other hand, the Dola Jatra is also celebrated as a victory of good over evil. As per Hindu mythology, demon king Hiranyakashyap who won over earth commanded everyone to worship him. However, his son Prahallad – an ardent devotee of Lord Vishnu – defied him.
This defiance infuriated Hiranyakashyap who hatched conspiracy to eliminate the kid with the help of his sister Holika. She planned to enter into fire with Prahallad in her laps as she had a boon which insulates her from the fire. However, she was unaware that it would work only for her.
While Holika along with Prahallad entered into the fire, she had to pay for his life for the sinister design. This signifies the victory of good over evil with Holika Dahan.
The festival thus derives it name from Holika and the festival of colours is celebrated a day after the Dola Purnima.