The last five days of Kartika month in Odisha are reserved for Panchuka. Devotees of Lord Jagannath, who cannot fast for the duration of Kartika, observe it on these days with the utmost devotion.
Panchuka begins with Bada Ekadashi or Tulsi Vivaha and ends on Kartika Purnima.
It is a practice among Odias to give up non-vegetarian food during the entire month of Kartika. Those who cannot abstain from this, give up eating non-vegetarian food for the last five days or Panchuka, also known as Bagарanchuka or the period during which it is said, even cranes turn pious and abandon eating fish.
Kartika brata is all about worshipping Rai-Damodara. During these five days, Goddess Lakshmi and Narayan are worshipped. Married women also worship Goddess Vrundavati, wife of the demon Jalandhara at the altar with the sacred tulsi plant for long life of their husbands. They decorate the place with beautiful Muruja or Rangoli designs in multi-coloured powders.
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.
Muruja is essential during this puja. Patterns are drawn on the floor in front of Tulsi Chaura . White powder is obtained by grinding of stones, green powder from dry leaves, black from burnt coconut shells, yellow from the petals of marigold flowers or turmeric and red from red clay or bricks. Devotees, who observe a month-long Kartika Brata, do not use black colour during Panchuka. Others use all the colours.
Lord Jagannath is adorned in different Bhesa (attire or form) on all the five days. He is adorned in the form of Laxminarayan on the first day, followed by Bankachuda Bhesa, Tribikrama Bhesa and Laxminrusingha Bhesa. The last day of Panchuka is very crucial as the Lord gives darshan to the devotees in Rajarajeswar Bhesa.