Bodan -A Ritual unique to Kokanastha Brahmins
Contributor
Madhuri Bapat, Thatcher, AZ.
Email - Durga1950@hotmail.com

A custom of ‘Bodan’ is almost getting disappeared as many others in this modern age. Like any other ritual, ritual of ‘Bodan’ is simply a way of connecting that Supreme Being and asking for courage in bad times. Women especially mothers are always worried about their children. In order to comfort their worried sick heart and give some hope for well being of their children this ritual is carried out by women with children especially a son. Especially ‘Bodan’ is performed so that family tree stays blooming. (Vansh Vriddhi)

The custom varies from family to family. Some families do ‘Bodan’ only if there is some kind of ‘Karya’ –such as wedding or thread ceremony-takes place. In some families they do it every year but if there is a ‘Karya’ then it is postponed to next year. Some families have additional ‘Bodan’ for ‘Karya’ with usual yearly ‘bodan’. Bodan is typically performed on Tuesday , Friday . These days are considered days of Goddess. Sunday is also considered fine day for this. It is performed in any month except ‘Chaitra’ and ‘Poush’

Who is invited?

Four other wedded mothers besides mother in the household and a ‘Kuvarin’-girl between age five and eight are invited. There is no ‘Bhataji’ required for the ceremony. ‘Puran Poli’ is special ‘Pakwaan’ for the occasion. Every ‘Suvasin’ – mother brings one of the five constituents of ‘Punchamrut’ with her. ‘Punchamrut’ is made up of milk, sugar, honey, ghee and yogurt. They are supposed to wear traditional nine-yard silk sari They cannot be on their period or be pregnant. Widows are not allowed to perform the ritual either.

Tulasi Pooja:

Invited women arrive around 9am. All suvasinis and kuvarin first worship Tulasi plant. They offer water, haladi-kumkum to tulasi plant and each other. Each suvasini’s feet are washed with water and milk. Host suvasini offers rice and fruit (Oatee) to invited suvasinis.

Bodan Ceremony

In a large brass plate (Parat) an idol of goddess ‘Annapurna’ is placed in the center of the plate. ‘Rangoli’ design is drawn around the ‘paat’. Rangoli is also drawn under the plate. Suvasinis and kuvarin sit on the wooden ‘paat’ around the plate. Host suvasini sits facing east, and kuvarin sits on the right side of her.Goddess is worshiped by suvasinis by offering haladi kumkum, flowers, panchamrut and ‘soubhagyalankar’ or ‘laynie’ (bangles, earrings made up of wheat flour dough mixed with turmeric.) Five lamps out of wheat flour are also made. Each lamp is lit with oil in it. Each suvasini gives prasad of puranpoli to goddess. Then aarti of Ganesha (Sukhakarta dukhaharta) and Devi Durga (durge durghatbhari) are sung with five oil lamps in the silver plate. Each suvasini keeps a lamp in the ‘parat’ along with offerings of food, flowers, ‘Paan’, Supari, and a coin. Milk is poured on the lamp one at a time.

All suvasinis and kuvarin insert their right hands in to the brass plate and mix the offerings. Kuvarin is asked what she needs more for the goddess as if goddess speaks through kuvarin’s mouth. She may ask for any ingredient from punchamrut or puranpoli. It is added to the mixture. More ingredients are added till kuvarin says ‘Udanda’. Means ‘everything is more than enough’. The mixture is searched for the idol of goddess. Once the idol is found, ‘bodan’ is completed. While ‘Bodan’ is being mixed rest of the family members come and pay their regards - do namashkar to the bodan as if it manifests the goddess. Many suvasinis go in trance during the bodan process.

Little bit of the mixture is given to the members of the family as ‘Gandha’. Suvasnis wash their hands in the parat using warm water and puran. Dropping the mixture on the floor is not allowed. The entire mixture is poured into the container carefully and given to a cow as a meal. A story –Kahani-of Bodan is also read. As per Kahani, woman performing this ritual, becomes favorite of everybody, especially of her in-laws.

All suvasinis, kuvarin and everybody in the family are served food. Suvasinis and kuvarin are offered ‘Paan’ or ‘Wida’ and Dakshina’ (money-typically Rs1.25 each.)

Many places especially in cities due to busy life and working mothers, it is difficult to have whole ceremony to be performed. It is getting more and more common just to invite suvasinis and kuvarin to eat food. Also Dakshina is offered to them.

One question always bothered me about 'bodan'. It is, if this is exclusively ‘Kokanastha’ ritual then how come ‘puran poli’ which is typically ‘deshastha’ pakwaann- is made for the occasion? It should have been ‘Moadak’ instead of 'puran poli'.

Readers' opinions are welcome.


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