SPECIAL WOMEN’S DAY SERIES–8th Post

Sasimani Debi was the last living Mahari/Devdasi of Jagannath temple & “human consort” of Lord Jagannath.

Sasimani came from a poor family. At age 12, she was inducted into Devadasi Seva after being ceremonially married to Lord Jagannath at the age of 7 or 8. Thus she was considered “living wife” of Lord Jagannath and was not expected to marry anyone else in her entire lifespan. According to temple records, she was one of about 25 women assigned to care for Jagannath & was the last among them who was alive.

As a part of her duties, she used to dance before the Lord during Badasinghara Besha & festivals related to Jagannath temple including Chandan Jatra.
As Sasimani grew old, her services were confined to reciting Gitagovinda in the traditional Odissi Music manner.

The Orissa Gazette of 1956 mentions some occasions where Devadasis danced. They had two daily rituals. The Bahar Gaaunis would dance at the Sakaala Dhupa. Lord Jagannath, after breakfast, would give Darshan to Bhaktas (devotees).

In the Main hall, a Devadasi accompanied by Musicians & the Rajguru (Court Guru) would dance, standing near Garuda Sthambha (pillar).This dance could be watched by audience. They would perform only pure dance here. At the age of 92 she left her last breath at Dolamandapa Sahi, Puri & was cremated at Swargadwar in Puri, where her foster son Somanath Panda light the funeral pyre brought from the kitchen of Jagannath temple.

 

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For Women's Day on March 8 2021, we present stories of 8 Inspiring Women of Odisha. For this, at the outset, we want to thank
#bmcbhubaneswar @smartcitybhubaneswar for conceptualizing the Street Art and Mural Project (STAMP) & making murals of fine women on Bhubaneswar's walls before #InternationalHockeyWorldCup2018. In busy city dwellers' lives, these 60 plus numbers of women's murals over a dedicated km-plus stretch of walls, have kept denizens connected to their awe-inspiring life stories. And Team Utkalamrita pays tribute to 8 such inspiring women, having done a humble photoshoot with these Larger-Than-Life Murals in the backdrop.

#womenempowerment #womensday #women #puri #Jagannath #womenpower

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