In Odisha’s West, A Different Bali Jatra
In Sonepur, the land of Shakti worship, Bali Jatra assumes a different meaning altogether. According to tradition, the festival began during Raja Madan Gopal Singhdeo, the first Chauhan king of Sonepur, who ruled the mid 17th century. Bali here meant sacrifice of animals, which was a part of the worship of Shakti and a practice linked to Kandha population in the region. The 16-day festival is held in September-October. The word Jatra denotes deities moving out of their abodes and making travels to different places. They were offered bali during these. The practice of sacrifices has declined over time, reduced mostly to symbolism these days.