** Cuttack: ** ‘Balijatra’ is not a tale. It is a celebration which behoves the splendid and dauntless journeys of Kalingan traders into south-east Asian nations.
The trade links between Odisha (Kalinga) lasted for a long period between 350 BC and 16th century AD during which the Odia Sadhabas (mariners) traded coconuts, earthenware, sandalwood, cloth, lime, rice, spices, salt, cloves, pumpkins, silk sarees, betel leaves, betel nuts, elephants, and precious and semi-precious stones in island nations in the Bay of Bengal and Indian Ocean.
Today, the Balijatra started amidst great fanfare on the Mahanadi riverbed in Cuttack which witnessed a huge crowd on the inaugural day. Agus Indra Udayana, founder president of Gandhipuri Ashram in Bali was the guest of honour at the event.
Udayana narrated the glory of Odia mariners and the manner in which they shipped a large number of essential commodities to Indonesia in the ancient times, Cuttack Barabati MLA Debasis Samantray said. “Mr Udayana said that people of Indonesia are fond of two great persons from India. One is Mahatma Gandhi and the second is Biju Patnaik. The heroic tales of Biju Babu are shared with the younger generations in Indonesia even today,” added Samantray.
“Kalinga and Bali have a great past which was bridged by the Sadhabas of this State. I am leading a team from Bali which will perform the Balinese dance, sell art and artefacts and facilitate people to people contact to revive our glorious olden times,” Udyana said.
There was a lot of excitement among the people from across Odisha and neighbouring States who thronged the banks of Mahanadi to celebrate the 10-day-long Balijatra.
Finance Department Minister, Sashi Bhusan Behera inaugurated the event in the presence of Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Chandrasarathi Behera, local legislators and Collector Arvind Agarwal.