Cuttack balijatra/Baliyatra is Asia’s largest open trade fair held in Cuttack of Odisha. It is organized in Gadagadia Ghata (at the bank of) of the Mahanadi river.
Balijatra literally means A Voyage to Bali. It marks the day when ancient Sadhabas (Odia mariners) would set sail to distant lands of Bali for trade and cultural expansion.
This major ‘Boita Bandana’ festival is celebrated on Kartik Purnima, which comes around the end of October and November. On this day, people of Odisha gather near banks of Mahanadi, Brahmani, and other rivers or ponds or seashores to float miniature toy boats.
These boats are made of colored paper, dried banana tree barks, and cork, as a symbolic gesture of their ancestors’ voyage.
These toy boats are usually launched early in the morning, containing traditional paan and small diyas in them, which are lit and placed inside them. These small lights make an illusion of fireflies and provide an attractive sight during the festival.
People also sing a traditional song while floating the paper boats; Aa ka ma boi, pan gua thoi… and so on to remember the early maritime history of Odisha.
What does this Cuttack Balijatra offer?
Balijatra is celebrated in Cuttack annually as a large open fair near the Barabati fort area. It is said to be the largest fair in Asia.
For every age group of people, there is always something this fair has to offer. It is a little tiring to enjoy the whole ground in one day.
Therefore, most people especially senior citizens prefer to cover the areas a little at a day for the whole 7 days.
Whereas, for people visiting from far places, it is a bit tiring to cover the whole tala padia (lower field) and upar padia (upper field) in one day.
There are a lot of cheap toy stores, games, and small rides for kids keeping their safety in mind. On the other hand, giant wheels, breakdance etc rides are also organized for every age group to enjoy.
Maut ka kuan (literally well of death), is a motor stunt that is most famous in Bali Jatra.
A variety of food stalls sell Odia delicacies like Thunka Puri, Cuttack Dahibara Aludum, Mathura Cake, Banarasi Paan, Kulfi, etc from different parts of the state.
Shops in ORMAS
Handloom businesses from all around the world come to promote their work, ORMAS (Gandhi Shilpi Udyog) is a program that promotes all the nation-provided fashion. Whether it’s Rajasthani Bandhani work or Bangalore Silk and embroidery work; This particular area provides all the cultural ethnicity of India.
Some shops are swarmed by ladies as they specifically sell imitation jewelry. Many traditional and many modern jewellery starting from simple earrings to heavy neckpieces. Everything is available here.
Bali Jatra also provides a lot of cultural programs. Every year millions of people from all over the nation come to experience it.
Even Bollywood celebrities are invited to perform during this festival. A variety of famous dance groups from all around the country, perform many classical and folk performances.
Balijatra is Cuttack’s Pride
Balijatra is one of the most important festivals for Cuttackians, it is their pride. The fact that a lot of people all around the world could come to this city and leave with an amazing experience and happiness, is overwhelming in a good way.
During this fair, almost half the Cuttack is jammed with vehicle parking, many people even have to walk about 5 kms prior to the ground. Yet, it is the enthusiasm that keeps them going.
- Due to a large crowd, the pollution is high at the time, hence it is advisable to carry pollution masks while being on the ground.
- Even water is sold in this fair, if people don’t want to purchase bottled water, they must want to bring their own water bottle from home.
- During heavy crowds, it gets harder to enjoy the cover the whole ground in less time. Therefore, one must want to start during the noon to end up by late evening.
- If you are here with a child then keep a tight hold of them or they can be lost during the push and pull of the crowd.
We wish, who all are reading this, to be able to visit Odisha and enjoy Balijatra; and return home with a lot of goodies and happiness and lots and lots of good memories.