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Past comes alive on twin city ghats

People float miniature boats on Mahanadi in Cuttack and (above) on Bindusagar in Bhubaneswar.
Pictures by Badrika Nath Das and Ashwinee Pati

Cuttack/Bhubaneswar, Nov. 28: Lakhs of people thronged the banks of rivers and other water bodies in the state braving the chill of the winter morning to celebrate Boita Bandana on the auspicious Kartik Purnima today.

Thousands thronged the Mahanadi river in Cuttack to celebrate the festival. Boita Bandana began with the traditional conch-blowing ceremony and chanting from the Vedas as people sailed their miniature boats to commemorate the state’s rich maritime past.

The festival, observed on Kartik Purnima, is one of the major festivals of the state.

According to popular belief, traders from the state used to go to far-off islands such as Bali, Java, Sumatra and Sri Lanka by sea in boats called Boitas for trading purposes. It is believed that the seafarers used to begin their journey on Kartik Purnima. “Our family members have been coming here for the past 30 years to sail boats in the river,” said Dilip Sahu, a resident of Buxi Bazaar.

Various ghats of the rivers Mahanadi and Kathajodi and other major water bodies in Cuttack also witnessed heavy rush as people thronged to sail boats made of paper and thermocol. Many had brought along the traditional miniature boats made out of banana stem and decorated with incense sticks, earthen lamps, flowers, fruits and coins.

In Bhubaneswar, the Bindusagar lake witnessed a huge turnout of people who went there to sail their boats, perform prayers and light lamps as early as 4am. People also thronged the ghats of the Daya and Kuakhai rivers.

In Paradip, the Kumar Purnima celebrations were emphatic with sailing of boats as well as Bali yatra festivities.

Chandbali, one of the oldest ports of the state, was witness to major celebrations. Boita Bandana was celebrated there in a unique way when seven men and women dressed up in traditional attire played the role of seven sadhabas or Odisha traders and their wives, respectively, to recreate the legends about the farewell ceremony for the traders of ancient times.

After the women prayed for a safe and prosperous journey of their husbands and applied tilaks on their foreheads, the traders boarded a huge boat decorated as a swan. Songs and dances were also played in the background.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated Bali yatra fairs in Paradip yesterday and in Cuttack today.