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BALI JATRA: CELEBRATING CUTTACK'S MARITIME HERITAGE



  Apr 19, 2024

Bali Jatra: Cuttack's Maritime Legacy



What is Bali Jatra?

Bali Jatra, literally meaning "Voyage to Bali," is an annual festival celebrated in Cuttack, Odisha. This festival commemorates the ancient maritime tradition of Odisha, where sailors (known as Sadhabas) embarked on voyages to distant lands like Bali, Java, Sumatra, and Sri Lanka for trade and cultural exchange. The festival is held on Kartik Purnima (the full moon day of the month of Kartik in the Hindu calendar), symbolizing the day the ancient voyages would traditionally begin.

How is Bali Jatra celebrated?

During Bali Jatra, the banks of the Mahanadi River transform into a hub of festivities. Locals gather to float small boats made of banana stems and paper, known as 'Boita', in the river. This act is a symbolic reenactment of the ancient voyages. The festival also features a large fair, which includes a variety of stalls selling local crafts, traditional foods, and cultural performances, making it a significant event for both cultural preservation and community gathering.

Significance of Bali Jatra in Cuttack's Cultural Heritage

Bali Jatra not only celebrates the maritime history of Odisha but also strengthens communal ties and fosters a sense of pride in the region’s rich historical legacy. It serves as a reminder of the adventurous spirit of the Odia people and their contributions to maritime trade in ancient times.

Integration of Bali Jatra in Cuttack Railway Station's Redevelopment

As part of the redevelopment of the Cuttack Railway Station, the East Coast Railway has decided to prominently feature the Bali Jatra within the station’s architecture and design. The main station building will capture the essence of Bali Jatra, with designs inspired by the boats and the river. Additionally, local tribal paintings, which reflect the traditional art forms of the region, will adorn the walls of the station, particularly in the waiting areas. This integration aims to showcase and promote the cultural heritage of Cuttack to travelers and visitors, making the railway station a gateway to the city’s historical and cultural richness.

The redevelopment project is part of a broader initiative under the Indian Railways’ Amrit Station Scheme, which seeks to modernize railway stations while preserving and promoting the cultural identities of the cities they serve. The new three-storey station building will feature world-class amenities, including separate arrival and departure concourses, a large food court, and a modern retiring room, all designed to provide a seamless and enriched travel experience for passengers



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