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Odisha’s Bali Jatra

By Amigos IAS

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.

 

Significance

  • 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.

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