Bali Yatra commemorates the rich maritime history of Odisha

The 10-day long Bali Jatra is considered an integral part of the socio-cultural identity of the eastern state. It also provides an opportunity to the artisans of the state to promote their traditional crafts.

Ashis SenapatiAshis Senapati   19 Nov 2022 9:02 AM GMT

Bali Yatra commemorates the rich maritime history of Odisha

Apart from artisans, weavers and sculptors, around 500 artists and dancers from far flung areas of the state participated in the festival along with dance troupes to perform in the evenings. All photos by Swastik Swaroop

After a hiatus of two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Bali Yatra (Bali Jatra) is back in Odisha. Held in Cuttack, on the banks of the river Mahanadi, this 10-day long Yatra is considered an integral part of the socio-cultural identity of the state.

Bali Jatra is a part of the Boita Bandana festival, which commemorates the rich maritime history of Odisha and its ancient trade affairs with Southeast Asia and Sri Lanka. This annual festival kicked off earlier this month on November 8 and concluded on November 17.

Bali Yatra is an opportunity for the artisans of the state to promote their crafts. This festival also showcases some of the most exquisite handloom and handicraft products of the state.

Also Read: Kartik Purnima and the traditional miniature boat craft of Kendrapara, Odisha

The century old traditional brass craft-persons of Atalapur, Samantarapur, Laxminagar, Kundapatana, Balipatana, Kulugaon and other villages in Jajpur district also did brisk business in Bali Yatra.

Bijay Maharana, a 45-year-old craftsman from Sukhuapada village in Jajpur district, had come to Bali Yatra to exhibit stone- grinders , chakis, idols of Lord Ganesh and Radha Krishan, elephants, horses, fruits, vegetables and other items in his stall.

"It is an old tradition for us to purchase stone grinders and other stone-made household items from Bali Yatra as this festival is famous for its stone products," Mahendra Das, a visitor at the Bali Jatra, told Gaon Connection.

"Around 200 golden-grass craft persons of the coastal districts of Kendrapara and Jagatsinghpur had been working in their villages since the last three months to made additional products to be able to earn more during the Bali Yatra festival," said 45-year-old Sabitri Rout, a golden-grass craft-person of Baro village in Kendrapara district.

Apart from artisans, weavers and sculptors, around 500 artists and dancers from far flung areas of the state participated in the festival along with dance troupes to perform in the evenings. Meanwhile, the multi-cuisine food courts provided ethnic cuisines from all over the state.

Also Read: Festive season, craft fairs help Odisha's Kendara singers to find their lost ground

The century old traditional brass craft-persons of Atalapur, Samantarapur, Laxminagar, Kundapatana, Balipatana, Kulugaon and other villages in Jajpur district also did brisk business in Bali Yatra.

Bali Yatra is an opportunity for the artisans of the state to promote their crafts. This festival also showcases some of the most exquisite handloom and handicraft products of the state.

Bali Yatra also brought relief to a large number of Dhokra craft persons of the tribal dominated villages of Keonjhar, Koraput , Malkangiri, Kalahandi, Dhenkanal, Jajpur, Nabarangpur and other areas of Odisha.

Tribal handicrafts, jewellery, handlooms and minor forest products, Dongria Kondh shawls, Kotpad saree, wooden and metal showpieces, bamboo crafts, Pattachirta artisans of Raghurajpur were in high demand in the Bali Jatra. "Traders and artisans sold items worth Rs 200 crores," said Subhash Chandra Singh, Mayor of Cuttack.

The pallishree mela organised by Odisha Rural Development And Marketing Society (ORMAS) has done a business of over Rs 21.31 crore, said Bipin Rout, Joint Chief Executive Officer of ORMAS. The traders, artisans and other self-help groups have earned good money in this Bali Jatra, he added.

Also Read: The Jaukandhei lac doll-making tradition of Odisha sees a revival

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