Paper boats set afloat to celebrate Boita Bandana in Bhubaneswar

People thronged banks of the Mahanadi and Kathajodi and the Taladanda canal to set sail paper boats

By Anwesha Ambaly in Bhubaneswar
  • Published 24.11.18, 2:37 PM
  • Updated 24.11.18, 2:37 PM
  • a min read
A girl floats a miniature boat at Bindusagar pond on Boita Bandana in Bhubaneswar on Friday. Ashwinee Pati

Braving the winter morning chill, hundreds of people thronged the rivers and other water bodies in the state on Friday to celebrate Boita Bandana, a ritual that recalls the state’s great maritime tradition.

The festival that marks end of the holy month of Kartik witnessed people of all ages sailing miniature boats adorned with incense sticks, earthen lamps, flowers, fruits and coins into the water.

People thronged banks of the Mahanadi and Kathajodi and the Taladanda canal to set sail paper boats. In Bhubaneswar, several people visited Bindu Sagar and floated tiny boats and offered puja at Lingaraj Temple.

While a number of people flocked the nearby ponds and rivers on the occasion, a large chunk of people chose to set afloat their boats in small tubs and swimming pools to save time and avoid the huge rush at prominent water bodies.

“During our days, the festival used to be observed with immense grandeur. But we need to keep the rituals alive to make the younger generations aware of the maritime glory of the state,” said septuagenarian Sashimala Behera.

A large number of devotees visited the Jagannath temple in Puri to witness the Rajarajeswara besha of the Trinity.

In an initiative to raise awareness about environment protection, Esplanade One, touted as Odisha’s largest shopping mall, celebrated its first Boita Bandana. They created temporary pond where 300 people gathered and set afloat paper boats.

A number of cultural programmes were held across the twin cities on Friday to mark the occasion. The legend of the maritime tradition was staged through plays, while dance and musical functions were also conducted.

A number of Odias living outside the state also observed the ritual. They set afloat homemade paper boats in nearby water bodies to remember the ancient tradition.

Apart from the rich cultural tradition, the boat festival has been an opportunity for business for those engaged in the making and the selling of the boats. Bhubaneswar’s Naresh Sahu, 32, has been making customised boats for the last eight years. “Making boats for the celebrations gives me a lot of pleasure and my business was quite profitable this year,” said Sahu.