Bhubaneswar: The annual Bali Jatra held in Cuttack would be recognized as a state-level festival and get financial support from the Odisha government, housing and urban development minister Pratap Jena said on Friday.
“In view of requests made by the Cuttack district administration, we have decided to recognize Bali Jatra as a state-level festival and provide special grants from the Tourism, Culture and Housing and Urban Development departments,” Jena told reporters following a preparatory meeting at Lok Sewa Bhavan here.
Tourism and culture minister Jyoti Prakash Panigrahi and Cuttack collector Bhabani Shankar Chaini attended the meeting.
“Our efforts are aimed at making Bali Jatra more beautiful and attractive. We want to improve different aspects of the fair,” Jena added.
Bali Jatra (meaning voyage to Bali) is organized every year in Cuttack to commemorate and celebrate the maritime tradition and heritage of Odisha, which was known in ancient times as Kalinga, with the South-east Asian region, including Bali (now in Indonesia).
For centuries, the fair, which showcases different aspects of Odisha, has been organized on the banks of river Mahanadi. Every year, it begins on the day of Kartika Purnima, which is considered auspicious and commemorates Odia mariners’ journeys to Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Sri Lanka for trade and commerce. While it is believed that the local traders and populace would have started the fair, the Cuttack district administration has taken the responsibility of organizing it for the past several decades. This year the fair will be held from November 12 to 19.
The state government’s decision to give Bali Jatra a much-needed boost is aimed at harnessing the tourism and cultural potential of the fair, which is the biggest in Asia and spread over acres of land and houses with an estimated 1,500 stalls.