Bamana Utsav: Celebrating the 5th incarnation of Vishnu

Royal celebration of Maharaja Gajapati in Odisha


September 8, 2022

/ By / New Delhi

Bamana Utsav: Celebrating the 5th incarnation of Vishnu

5th incarnation of Lord Vishnnu in Srikhetra, near the holy city of Puri in Odisha

As the birth anniversary of the Bamana avatar, the 5th incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was celebrated on Wednesday in Srikhetra in Puri in Odisha as Bamana Utsav. And the Shunya Parva Celebration of Maharaja Gajapati gives a cultural glimpse of Odia royal culture and tradition.

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As per Odiya tradition, every year in Srimandira temple, on the 12th day of the bright fortnight in the month of Bhadrav is a celebration of Bamana Utsav as the anniversary of Bamana Avatar, the 5th incarnation of Lord Vishnu in Srikhetra, which is near the holy city of Puri, the seat of Lord Jagannath. The day is also celebrated in Odisha as the beginning of a Suniya Parva as New Year celebration of the Utkal region. On this day, Lord Jagannath is dressed in the attire of ‘Bali Bamana Besha’ and then worshipped. It is believed by the devotees that worshiping the Bamana (or Vamana) avatar will help them attain salvation and end their pain and suffering.


According to the Bhagavata Purana, the extremely powerful demon King Bali defeated Indra and captured heaven. King Bali was an arrogant demon despite being the grandson of Prahlad, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu and a philanthropist king. He used to intimidate the deities and brahmins by misusing his power. Very mighty and invincible Bali became the lord of the heaven, the Earth and Hades on his own strength.

When he lost control over heaven, Indra, along with other deities went to Lord Vishnu, who promised to help him in the matter. After this Lord Vishnu took the fifth incarnation on earth in the form of Vamana (dwarf) as a son of Aditi and Kashyap.

Thus, Lord Vishnu went to King Bali in the guise of a dwarf Brahmin and requested him to give him three steps of land for his living. There was a wooden umbrella in his hand. The king agreed to the pleas by the tiny Brahmin thinking that he did not face risk of losing a lot of land in the three steps that the dwarf could take. His wish granted, Lord Vishnu as Vamana Deva, measured the entire land (earth) in his very first step. In the second step, the heaven was measured and there was nothing left for the third step. But King Bali was firm in his word, so thirdly he bowed his head and said that the Lord should take the third step here.

Vamana Deva was very pleased with King Bali’s commitment and therefore he decided to give Hades to King Bali and placed his third step on Bali’s head, who reached Hades after this.

This day is also marked as a celebration of the Maharaja Gajapati of the Eastern Ganga Dynasty. Also known as Rudhi Gangas or Prachya Gangas, they were a large medieval era Indian royal dynasty that reigned from Kalinga from as early as the 5th century to the early 15th century. They are known as “Eastern Gangas” since the territory ruled by the dynasty consisted of the whole of the modern-day Indian state of Odisha, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.

As per the Odia traditions, the counting or Anka system always starts on the Odia fiscal new year called Sunia which falls on the 12th day of the bright fortnight of the month Bhadra (August-September) known as Bhadra Shukla and Dwadasi. If a King accedes to the throne just a few days before this date, then the first year of his reign would then just be a few days long so, this became “Anka”. From this day, the counting of Gadiasana of Gajapati counted. And the 12th of Bhadra is called Sunya Parva or New Year.

Bamana Utsav Celebration

 As per the traditions, on this day of Vamana Janmotsav ritual, a strict fast is observed throughout the day and the puja is accompanied by narration of Vamana Katha. After the Janmotsav ritual and afternoon prayers, Lord Jagannath wears the Bamana attire. Devi Subhadra and Lord Balabhadra are also attired in general attire or sadharana besha and royal attire or raja besha respectively. In this dress, Lord Jagannath holds an umbrella in his left hand and a pot in the right hand as a staunch Bramhin. This attire has also got place in a very popular hymn –

‘Rathe Tu Bamanam Drustwa Punarjanmam Na Vidyate’ or the visit of Vaamana on the Chariot festival will become the path of salvation or moksha.

The Sunya Parva Celebration

 On the occasion of Sunia Parva, Brahmins from 16 holy places as per the Hindu mythology, visit the palace of Gajapati Maharaj in Puri and each of them presents a coconut to the king and blesses him. On this day all these Brahmins along with others are given Mahaprasad. On Sunia day, Gajapati Maharaj pays obeisance to Lord Jagannath at Srimandira and offers gifts. After having a glimpse of Lord Jagannath, the Gajapati king visits the old palace and pays obeisance to Goddess Shyamakali and Lord Astasambhu before returning to his palace. On the Sunia day, the new ‘anka’ is carved on a gold coin.

As per the tradition, the deities are served with specially prepared Kakara Rajabhoga in 3 badas (plates). After performing the puja in the evening, Vamana Jayanti Vrat Katha is narrated and the fast is broken by prasad.

Also Read – Vrindavan – the land of Lord Krishna.

The grandeur of Janmashtami, Lord Krishna’s birth anniversary



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