Bhubaneswar: Miniature decorated boats made of banana barks, thermocol and paper were set out by the people of Odisha in ponds, rivers and the sea today, in a traditional celebration of the state’s maritime history.
Thousands of people of all age groups, as also women and children, floated the small boats near Dhabaleswar temple in Cuttack and Bindusagar pond in state capital Bhubaneswar as part of “Boita Bandana” (worship of voyage) festival.
A large number of devotees also visited temples.
In ancient times, sea traders from Odisha known as “sadhabas” would begin their sea voyages on the full moon day of the Kartika month of the Hindu calendar, to the Indonesian island of Bali.
Those days are now gone, but people float tiny boats and celebrate the festival of “Boita Bandana” every year in memory of that past glory.
Similarly, according to a belief, the last five days of the month of Kartika, called Panchaka, are considered sacred. The last day, named Kartika Purnima, is considered the most sacred.
It is believed that those who take a dip in the sea, in rivers of ponds on that day and visit the temple early in the morning get absolution from their sins.
The festival also marks the end of a month-long abstinence from non-vegetarian food for most Odia families and the beginning of the Bali Yatra along the banks of Mahanadi river in Cuttack.
The fair at Kila Maidan on the riverbank of Cuttack, 26 km from here, is the biggest trade fair in the state. More than 100,000 people visit it, on average, at this time of year.