According to this legend, Rai, the daughter of the leader of the temple priests (pandas) of Lord Jagannath at Puri, was married to the Lord and thus was deified. However, this fact did not enrage Lakshmi, the divine consort of the Lord. She gave her a boon, saying that she would be worshipped along with her. Since then the brata of Rai-Damodar has been in vogue and the Hindu widows of Orissa worship Damodar along with Rai and Lakshmi by having one meal sun dried rice called Habisha, this brata is called Rai-Damodar. The brata is celebrated at the base of the Tulsi (basil) among brides. The last five days of the holy month of Кdaka are known Bagарanchuka or the period during which even the cranes turn pious and abandon eating fish. During these five days the goddess Lakshmi and Narayan only are invoked. On the other hand, during these five days married women also worship the goddess Vrundavati, the wife of the demon Jalandhara at the altar with the sacred Tulsi plant, by decorating the place with beautiful designs in multi-coloured powders from indi-made genius herbs and other materials Married women worship Vrundavati during the last five days of Kartika for a long life for their husbands. It is popularly believed that the chastity and purity of Vrundavati sustained the life of her husband who had no dharma of his own to stand on Thus by propitiating vґundavati, they believe, they can earn the same merit. The rituals observed on the last five days of Kartika bear the name Panchuka (Panchaka) brata.
Photo: Ranjan GangulyBagарanchuka Rai-Damodar Rai Damodar Puja