Bali Yatra Festival of Orissa: A fair of culture, fun and entertainment.

Bali Yatra or Bali Jatra literally means “Journey to Bali” ; Held on the full moon day in Karthik Purnima, Bali Yatra commemorates Orissa’s ancient maritime legacy. It is literally “journey to Bali”. The ancient traders (Sadhabas) chose the auspicious day of Kartik Purnima to set sail in their sea going boats or Boitas to distant Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Sri Lanka.

Bali Yatra at Cuttack , Orissa (Photo Courtesy	 Ayaskant)
Bali Yatra at Cuttack , Orissa (Photo Courtesy Ayaskant)

The auspicious time has a scientific basis too – the wind were favourable during this time of the year. It pushed hard on sails (Ajhala) to bear ancient Indians across Ocean to Indonesia. The trading activities of ancient Kalinga was flourishing in S.E. Asia like Indonesia, Philippines, Malayasia and Srilanka, Siam (Thailand). Besides the traders also developed a brisk overseas trade with Rome and Greece.

Others believe that Sri Chaitanya MahaPrabhu, the great Vaishnavite Saint, first landed in the soil of after crossing the sand-bed (Bali) of Mahanadi river on his way to Puri on this auspicious day. The date may have been the same but Kalinga’s Maritime tradition predates Chaitanya Dev’s journey by centuries.

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 like a second diwali. As images of Karthikeswar are immersed in Mahanadi River, to mark the end of the month of Karthik; the banks of the river in Cuttack come alive with twinkling lights and suddenly Bali Yatra takes a life of its own. People sing “Aa ka ma bai, pan gua khai…” remembering the proud maritime history of Kalinga.

Beside Cuttack Bali Yatra is celebrated with great fanfare in Paradeep, Puri and Bhubaneswar. It is also known as Boita Bandana Utsab – the “festival of boats”.

Baliyatra festival is also associated with legend ‘Taapoi’ and rituals like ‘Bhalukuni Osha’ and ‘Bada Osha’ and ‘Akasadipa’ festival which all indicates Orissa’s glorious maritime heritage. ‘Khudurukuni Osha’ is observed on each Sunday of Bhadra by un-married girls to worship Goddess Maa Mangala for the safe return journey of the family members from the voyage.

‘Bada Osha’ is linked with the boat making tradition of yore. Similarly, ‘Akasadipa’ festival is celebrated to remember the artificial light houses along the coast. The legend ‘Taapoi’ is deeply associated with Baliyatra festival which preserves memories of young maidens waiting for the return of their sailors.

To revive and refresh the memories of Kalinga’s maritime glory, a boat expedition was organized on the Kartika Purnima of 1992. History was recreated when a seven member crew on board a 13 meter long yatch sailed for Bali from Paradeep port of Orissa retracing the ancient trade route.  The yatch INS SAMUDRA covered a distance of 5810 nautical miles in just over 17 weeks.

In 2010, this festival is celebrated on 21st November. Toshali Travel and Tours  offers budget festival holiday packages and arranges, to be at Bali Yatra Fair, Cuttack, Orissa. And customized your accommodation on demand, get reservation at . Toshali Travel and Tours is authorised Travel and Tour Operator, recognised and accredited by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

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Amongmong Festival : Pre Harvest Festival of Sangtam Tribe in Nagaland

Amongmong  festival is observed in the first week of September by the Sangtam tribe in Nagaland. It is a pre harvest festival. Amongmong means togetherness.

Six days of Amongmong has its unique importance. People worship resident deities and the three cooking stones in the fireplace to get good health, harvest and prosperity.

The village priest, at the death of night announces “ZANGNYOU MONGMONG NUNG EH-LEHE”. The next morning another priest will read theproclamation. The villagers being preparation for the festival byaccumulating food stuff, firewood and special wine like ROHI and MADHU. The announcement denote the separation of the spirit of the dead from the living. Throughout the festival, a line is drawn between the dead and the living.

AMONGMONG signifies ‘togetherness forever’. The object is to have a good harvest. The figure “6” bear great significance among Sangtam tribe. For example, when a head hunter brings an enemy’s head he is undefiled and observe penance for 6 days. A male baby is christened onthe 6th day.  A deceased’s family would mourn for 6 days.

Each day of the festival has got its own significance. The first day is called “SINGKITHSA”. This day is marked by the closing of all transaction relating to purchase of domestic animals like pigs, cow, Mithuns and roping them. Preparing and collecting of food stuff and harvesting vegetables and millets.  On the second day, the roped domestic animals are killed. After setting aside some portion for the feast, the meat is distributed among the team members of the group called “ATHIRÜ” and “AKHINGRÜ”. The third day is “MÜSÜYANGTAP” – day of worshipping the three oven stones. The oldest woman of the household performs the ritual by placing gum rice balls on the top of the stones and pouring little wine on these stones. The god (LIJABA) is represented by these stone.

On these three days villagers will neither go to fields nor outside the village as this is believed to bring calamities. At dawn, the priest would go to the village well and draw water carefully. Others would follow. Each one of them must cover their head with green leaves, lest they are stricken with cholera. The whole day is devoted to drinking of rice beers, dancing, tug of war and other merrymaking.

Day four is KIKHA-LANGPI. Males would clear the village. Paths, wells and springs are cleaned. On returning every grown-up male will contribute meat and wine and feast together in the house of the village priest. The wives puts chilies, ginger and cotton in green leaves called “TSIDONG” and put them in the field or outside the village to ward off calamities and prevent damage to crops.

Day five is “SHILANG WUBA NYUNONG”. Villager visit to relatives,  friends and neighboring villages, sharing meal, drinks and exchange of meat as gift. The last day of the festival is called “AKATISINGKITHSA”. Harvesting starts from this day….

Toshali Travel and Tours  offers budget festival Holiday packages and arranges, to be at Nagaland Amongmong festival ”. And customized your accommodation on demand, do visit at . Toshali Travel and Tours is authorised Travel and Tour Operator, recognised and accredited by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India

To know more on the Amongmong Festival, post you comments or Contact our Toshali Holiday Planner at