HEALTH AND MEDICINE IN COLONIAL ORISSA 13
higher fees to inoculate boys than girls36 indicating female devaluation.
It has been suggested that the annual rathajatra at Puri during which the trinity - Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra - go out on their annual visit to the Gundicha temple has some connections with the ritual of clearing the main temple from smallpox. Thus, the nine day festival corresponds with the duration of the disease; the sweeping of the chariots illustrate the wiping away of the disease; and finally the word Gundicha itself means smallpox (ie. gundi = pox).37 One can clearly see in all this the possible linkages and interactions between the Jagannatha cult and the popular tradition related to appeasing Sitala and coping with the disease.
It has been correctly argued that Sitala was both the source and the means of getting protection from small pox. However, the idea that she was a 'folk deity', who was not a part of the original Hindu pantheon, who had gained a gradual entry into and recognition by Brahminical Hinduism38 does not seem particularly convincing. After all, its impossible to locate the so-called 'original Hindu pantheon'. Instead what needs emphasis is the specificities of her presence in the world of the indigenous people and the attempt to accommodate her in a complex way - a feature that had some association with the process of Hinduisation in the colonial period.
Fasts seem to have been undertaken to both prevent and cure diseases. Thus, the Budhei osha (fast) was observed every Wednesday in the month of Bhadra. Budhei Bamana was worshipped in the form of the curry-stone adorned with vermilion, collyrium and flowers. Through this fast Budhei Bamana was sought to be appeased to grant boons to restore the vision of the blind, cure leprosy and other virulent diseases and beget children. According to a myth, a wine dealer's wife was cured of her leprosy and a pregnant Brahmin woman had a safe delivery after pleasing this goddess through their fasts, The Jahni osha was observed to please goddess Vrundabati to cure leprosy in unmarried girls and 'gain' a large family of sons. The Dutiya fast was undertaken to seek the blessings of Dutibahana (a gbcldess who was supposed to be born to a Brahmin widow ^rid the sun god) on the eighth day of the 'dark fortnight' of the lunar month of Ashwina for the motherhood of barren women, or those who delivered still-born children. The Naga Chauthi osha was observed by women - on the fourth day of the 'bright fortnight' of the lunar month of Kartika -who worshipped Pingala (the cobra serpent god) in the form of a snake image made of gold, silver or rice paste near an ant hill, representing the serpent god's wife. This fast was observed to protect