BHUBANESWAR: Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has urged the Centre to accord ‘National Maritime Heritage Festival’ status to Baliyatra at Cuttack that has been celebrating the glorious maritime history of Odisha since ages.
Stating that the signature festival, also known as Boita Bandana, is an integral part of the cultural ethos of Odisha commemorating the tradition of seafaring activities of Odia mariners, Naveen requested Union Minister for Tourism and Culture Prahlad Singh Patel to consider the socio-cultural importance of the annual event.
“The festival that is celebrated annually as a large open fair and considered to be one of the most celebrated festivals in the State begins on full-moon day of Kartika (Purnima) in November and continues for seven to 10 days. It marks the days when Sadhavas (Odia sailors) would start their journey to distant lands of Bali, Java, Sumatra and Borneo for trade and cultural expansion. The legacy is observed through the celebration of Baliyatra,” he stated.
The maritime heritage and overseas trade-related achievements of ancient India are evident in Indus Seals. On eastern seaboard it was Odia mariners who were the torchbearers of Indian maritime prowess since time immemorial, he said.
The footprints of the enterprise, Naveen said are evident in the South Eastern regions, particularly Bali, Java and Sumatra. People of Indian origin in general are known as ‘Klings’ in the south-eastern countries and it could be an indication of old association with Kalinga in terms of trade and cultural exchanges.
Not only that the trade-centric age-old traditions, the tell-tale makers of cultural interactions between eastern parts of India, particularly ancient Kalinga, can be observed in customs, cuisine, dance forms, rituals and traditions of Bali.
“In that sense, the Baliyatra of Cuttack and the identical cultural traits in Bali reminds us of the legacy. As the country looks to the East to revive the old contacts with South-East Asia aiming at mutual economic growth, it would be appropriate and timely that Baliyatra, which celebrates the enterprising spirit of ancient India, is recognised at the national-level so that the daring initiatives of our seafaring ancestors are duly acknowledged,” Naveen added.
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