Karthik Purnima is regarded as the most auspicious day by the traders of Orissa. It is on this day theta they venture on a journey to distant lands like islands of Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The Bali Yatra festival showcases Orissa's rich cultural history and symbolizes the culmination of all religious festivals held in the month of Kartik.
History of Bali Yatra
Bali Yatra is a hugely popular fair held on the banks of Mahanadi River in the fort area of Cuttack city. It was from this place that the traders of Orissa undertook voyages, along the sea trade route, on huge boats called Boita. Thus to commemorate the glory of the ancient times, the people in Cuttack as well as in the rest of Orissa float small boats made of cork, colored paper and banana tree barks in the river and water tanks.
Ritual of Bali Yatra
The ritual of launching tiny paper boats lit by lamps placed within its hollow is known as Boita Bandana. Idols of Kartikeya are worshipped and then later immersed in the waters of river Mahanadi, in the vicinity of a ShivaTemple. This marks the end of the month of Kartik and the banks of the river in Cuttack come alive with chants and rejoicing of the people. The fair is held on the banks of Mahanadi River in the fort area of Cuttack city.
Held over 3-4 days till the full moon day, the fair of Bali Yatra is attended by thousands of visitors. The Festival of Bali Yatra at present has gained immense importance as tourists from far off places gather here during the festival to witness the culture of Orissa.
The festival is marked with fun and frolic where countless shops selling food, clothes, and miscellaneous items and swings come up during the evenings. The government of Orissa organizes numerous tours and packages during the festival for tourists to have a complete look and feel of the state culture and richness.
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