Jeypore’s Connection With Lathis During Dussehra, A Dying Tradition

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Jeypore has an old association with ‘lathis’. They are considered sacred by the tribal groups here, who worship them throughout the year for the prosperity of the people.

When Jeypore was ruled by kings, tribal headmen used to come here with their lathis during Dussehra. These were kept in the temple till the celebrations got over. At that time, Dussehra used to be a 16-day affair.

There was a time when people used to compare the scale of Dussehra in Jeypore to that of Mysore. But gradually, as the zamindari system ended, so did the scale of Dussehra at Jeypore. It no longer remained a grand affair.

The legend 

King Vijaya Chandrakshya, son of King Vinayak Dev, had helped Gajapati Purushottam Dev of Puri during his Kanchi Abhijan. The Puri king had gifted Vijaya Chandrakshya an idol of Goddess Durga after he won the battle. This idol came to be known as Kanaka Durga.

It is said that during Dussehra, the king of Jeypore used to go into the town on an elephant after offering prayers at the Kanak Durga Temple. He was followed by village headmen carrying ‘lathis’ followed him to the Dussehra field where yagna would be performed. The village headmen used to collect land and forest revenue and gift them to the king every Dussehra, who in turn used to organise a special Raj Bhent for them before Bijaya Dashmi.

This was also the time the tribal heads used to discuss their problems with the king, who used to address their grievances on the spot.

Dussehra over, the tribals used to return to their villages with the lathis and worshipped them again. However, once the zamindari system was abolished, the palace discontinued the exercise and tribals also stopped coming to Jeypore.

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