Bali Yatra: The Tales and Legends of Utkal Culture

The world-famous Bali Yatra of Cuttack started from Kartik Purnima on Tuesday. There are different types of stalls selling several things including food items and household goods in this fair. It is said that there is nothing that cannot be found during the Bali Yatra. Everything from needles to big things can be found here. It also has the meena bazaars. Lakhs of people from the state and outside the state are expected to see this annual fair. This fair has become a centre of attraction not only for the local residents of Cuttack City alone but also for the entire state. Seeing the interest of the people, the number of traders is increasing day by day.

History of the Bali Yatra:

Many people may not know about the history of the Bali Yatra, when it started and how it started. So today we will say its history at least for the young generation to know. Of course, there is some confusion among researchers and historians about the beginning of the Bali Yatra. However, the Sadhabas (Odia mariners) of Odisha, the then Kalinga state, used to travel through the sea route to trade with foreign states and countries. They all used to gather at the river bank before beginning their journey.

And since this journey takes place on sand (bali) itself, it is called Baliyatra. This is the opinion of some historians. Others say that when the traders used to return, people were waiting on the bank of the river to welcome them. As they were returning from Bali Island, it was named Bali Yatra.bali yatra

It is true that the Odias of Kalinga State were very courageous at that time. Otherwise, they would not have gone to distant lands to trade with boats in the sea. During their journey, they also at a time had to face and fight the mermaid in the sea. This is why they used to fully prepare for all these adverse situations, because, all these require a lot of courage. They used to have training and the ability to deal with the sea piracy.

In the past, Sadhaba sons used to go to Java, Bali, Sumatra, Borneo or present day Indonesia to trade. So they used start their journey especially from the sea coast and from the places where boats or boats can go. And they go to these islands through the sea and come back after doing business. From Odisha, they used to go there with various items and on their return, they bring various spices and national items.

But the most important thing is that after the rainy season or monsoon returns, the direction of blowing of wind changes from October. At that time there were no motorized boats. Boats were steered by relying only on the wind. But it is not possible to go to a long distance with such boats. So, only by the movement of the wind, the boats were reaching their destination. Because of this, the months of October and November are considered to be the best time for voyage. And as the Kartik Purnima day is considered to be very holy and auspicious, the sadhabas used to start their journey by worshiping and remembering Lord Jagannath and Maa Mangala. The Gadagadia Ghat on the banks of the Mahanadi River in Cuttack City is believed to have been a major travel destination. And from there many traders used to start their journey. This is why it is said that the Bali Yatra became more famous.

bali yatraAccording to the historian, after the coming of British rulers and due to their modern ships and boats and their professional business mentality, this boat trip of Odia sadhaba sons may have been stopped. Later, due to the road connectivity, this trade gradually might have stopped. Now though there is neither boat nor the sadhabas, the annual fair is observed to commemorate them.

Of course, now not only in Cuttack City but also some other places have started the Baliyatra celebration. The annual event is now also taking place in Paradip, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur and now near Bhubaneswar’s Kuakhai river. However, the popularity and attraction of the Cuttack Bali Yatra is such that no one can match it. So be it memory or history, this is the story and legend of our Utkal Culture. If more research is done on the historical significance and origin of the Bali Yatra, present and future generations will be able to know a lot about its specialty.

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