Why is it in the news?
- Odisha’s Bali Jatra was inaugurated on the banks of the Mahanadi River in Cuttack.
About Bali Jatra
- Considered as one of Asia’s largest open trade fairs.
- Held in Cuttack at Gadagadia Ghata of the Mahanadi River.
- Marks the day when ancient Sadhabas (Odia mariners) set sail to distant lands for trade.
- Begins on Kartik Purnima (full moon night in the month of Kartik).
- During the fair, people sail decorative miniature boats to celebrate boita bandana, the worship of boats.
- Originates more than 1,000 years ago when maritime and cultural links existed between ancient Kalinga (present-day Odisha) and Bali and other South and Southeast Asian regions.
- Bay of Bengal region had several ports, and traders began their voyages on this auspicious day.
- Decline started with the advent of Arab traders in the Bay of Bengal and later European traders.
- Further, lack of patronage from rulers led to the complete decline of maritime trade in Odisha.
- Ancient trade relations shaped India’s ‘Look East’ foreign policy, later replaced by ‘Act East Policy.’
|· India’s ‘Mausam’ project aims to reinvent ancient maritime trade routes, countering China’s Silk route initiative.