Bali Jatra or Bali Yatra literally means “journey to Bali”. Bali Yatra is an ode to Odisha’s rich maritime legacy. The ancient Odiya traders (Sadhabas) chose the auspicious day of Kartik Purnima to set sail in boats or Boitas to distant Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Sri Lanka.
The other belief behind the name is that Sri Chaitanya Maha Prabhu first landed in this soil after crossing the sand-bed (Bali in Odiya) of Mahanadi River on his way to Puri on this auspicious day.
Where is it held?
In Cuttack, Bali Jatra is celebrated as an open fair near the Barabati Fort area. Children float toy boats made of colored paper, dried banana tree barks, and cork in the Mahanadi river, ponds, and water tanks, to commemorate the voyage of their ancestors to Indonesia. The toy boats with their small oil lamps light up the autumn evenings. The banks of the river in Cuttack come alive with twinkling lights and suddenly Bali Yatra takes a life of its own.
Glimpses of Bali Jatra
Rides like these are a common sight in the Bali Jatra
With a turnover of around 14 lakh people in the last day no one cares if its pizza “hut” or pizza “hot” serving pizza.
As my friend put it “Bali Jatra” is heaven for foodies.
How many of us begged for pocket-money to buy Cotton Candy outside school gates. It was pure nostalgia when we devoured cotton candy in Bali Jatra. The Candy Man was clueless about our excitement.
How can you go to Bali Jatra and not have “Thunka Puri”
Games like “balloon shooting” and “ring toss” are a common sight in Bali Jatra.
Can a post on Bali Jatra be complete without the image of the Ferris Wheel ?
A giant Ferris wheel on the banks of Mahanadi, devouring anything edible available in thousands of food stalls, stepping on peoples toes,swearing ,cursing ,smiling at random strangers, parents clutching on to the hands of their kids, the constant fear of getting lost in the crowd. Millions of lights,gazillion memories.
Photos Courtesy : Pheel Photographer aka Ranvir Deb