Bali Yatra the Maritime Legacy of Odisha all set start at Cuttack from November 14

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Odisha’s largest trade and commerce fair- “Bali Yatra or Bali Jatra” is all set to began on the banks of Mahanandi River at Cuttack in Odisha on November 14, 2016. Associated with the rich culture and trade activities of Odisha, the weeklong festival is a stage for the traders in the country to conduct business and explore opportunity for their products in Odisha

Bali Yatra is a platform for the people in the state and tourists from across the globe to know about the rich social and cultural heritage of Odisha. The festival reminds the past when merchants from Odisha sailed to far-eastern countries for trade and commerce and also marks culmination of the holy month of Kartik. The fair dissolves the cultural, religious and language barrier in the state. It is an inseparable part of the socio cultural milleu of the millennium city ‘Cuttack’. To remind and celebrate the ancient maritime glory of the past, this vast trade fair of national repute is being organized every year. Beyond doubt “Bali yatra’ is one of the best festivals in Odisha reflecting the cultural heritage and traditions of the state.

Covering an area of about 40 acres, nearly 1500 makeshift stalls come up at Killa Maidan in front of the legendary Barabati Fort and the adjoining sprawling Mahanadi riverbed in covering an area of 40 acres. Over four lakh people throng the fairgrounds everyday relishing mouth-watering food, purchasing a range of household articles and enjoying the joyrides. While the festival witnesses heavy rush throughout the day, it is the evenings that register maximum footfalls.

For the first time, the district administration has decided to set up a special set of stalls exclusively for the transgenders. The administration has been erecting a special pavilion for the differently-abled persons for last four years and it has received overwhelming response.

In the ancient times, merchants from Odisha went on business trips in foreign countries like Bali, Java and Sumatra. Their family saw them off and the ritual of Boita Bandaana on Kartika Purnima began. It is said that winds blew in favourable direction on Kartika Purnima and it aided the merchants to steer their boats. The festival of Bali Jatra in Cuttack celebrates this maritime legacy of Odisha.

From the historical point of view, Bali Yatra depicts the symbol of ancient maritime glory of the erstwhile Kalinga, the festival showcase the traditional art and craft of Odisha with full scale entertainment. The fair boasts beautiful hand woven and handloom sarees like Sambalpuri, Bomkai, Berhampuri, Khandua, Pasapali pata, Sonpuri Pata, Mania Bandha etc along with famous traditional lighting small lamps in the hollow of the boat called Boita Bandana.

From a tourists perspective, the festival will be a great exposure to witness the culture and tradition of the state. It provides a cultural programmes, Odia Jatra parties, ethnic Oddissi dances and orchestra for the masses.

It may be noted, reputed companies wait for Bali Jatra to launch their new products. This event helps Corporate houses to promote their brands in a big way. Various public welfare projects are being inaugurated on this Occasion. Beside trading, the festival is a heaven for food lovers. Many food stalls serving best Odia delicacies like Thunka-puri, DahibaraAludum and Gupchup, sweets and other shops selling on ethnic handicrafts as well as the latest in electronic gadgetry etc.

With great historical and political importance, Bali Yatra has deep connections with the ancestors people in Odisha. It is an inevitable part of the socio-cultural heritage of the Cuttack city. The festival is anchored to another very important slice of history. Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu is also believed to have first landed on Kalinga’s soil, 500 years back, who upon his visit to Cuttack crossed the Mahanadi and proceeded for a Darshan of “Sakhigopal” at the Barabati Fort. It is named Baliyatra, in consonance with Shri Chaitanya’s historic visit

The Baliyatra is also the second largest trade festival in Asia. Baliyatra is also celebrated with flavour in the cities of Bhubaneswar, Puri, Paradeep and is associated with other popular festivities including “Taapoi” (in honour of the young girls who associate the return of their sailors from faraway lands) and “Khudurukuni” (ritual celebration observed by unmarried girls to Goddess Mangala for the safe return of their family members).