Archive for the ‘Orissa Culture & Heritage’ Category

Rath Yatra: A Unique Journey of the Lord Beyond Places And Cultures

The annual car festival is more than just a festival for the odias. It is an occasion that is consonant with the history, culture and everything that represents odisha. It is thus a grand occasion   when Lord Jagannath comes out of his abode every year to meet His devotees. A tide of human population throngs the abode of the Lord every year on this occasion to get a glimpse of the Lord and worship him with all fervor.

The occasion that has been practiced since yore in the town of Puri has now reached other parts of the globe and  is now being celebrated with equal bash and  gaiety elsewhere in different parts of the world. Though the traditions associated with the original temple remain the same for the Lord in the town of Puri, elsewhere it is the fervor and devotion that  makes  the Lord of  Universe the most adored God for His devotees.

Today the car festival of the Lord is celebrated in different parts of the world including India and outside. And quite a number of places have built a reputation for themselves in conducting the annual car festival with the same zing and enthusiasm that is associated with the festival in Puri.

Dhamrai Rath Yatra ( Bangladesh)

Dhamarai Rath YatraThe Rath yatra at Dhamrai in Bangladesh is important not only for the long history that it carries with itself but also for the number of Hindu devotees it draws in the predominantly Muslim dominated country.

The festival with a history that date backs to 1672 is a major attraction for the Hindu community in Bangladesh and people throng from far and wide to glimpse the Lord in the chariot and pull it’s rope.  What used to be the focal point of the Dhamrai chariot festival was the massive  chariot that used to be 60 ft  in height . It was three tired in structure and it’s colossal size was something that used to inspire awe in the people.

The 3-storied chariot needed 27 maunds of rope to drag it. However the chariot was burnt down by the Pakistani army during the Bangladesh war of Liberation. A makeshift chariot was built with bamboos in the consequent year to continue with the tradition. In 2010, a new 27 ft long chariot with 15 wheels was built . This chariot is being used for the festival ever since.

The Dhamarai chariot festival is a month long event  and in addition to the journey of the Lord, stalls are  set up for sale of varieties of products. Circus and puppet shows also come to provide entertainment to people that come from all walks of life and across religious faiths.

Rath Yatra of Mahesh ( West Bengal)

Mahesh Rath YatraThe second oldest chariot in the country  after the Puri Rath Yatra, the Rathyatra of Mahesh in West Bengal is a week  long affair that is celebrated by the people in the small town of Srerampore of Hoogly district. The famed car festival of Mahesh is enjoyed by over 2-3 lakh devotees every year.

There is an interesting story behind  the  Rathyatra of Mahesh. It is said that Dhrubananda Brahmachari, a great Bengali sage visited Puri  on the 14th Century. He was however prevented by the temple authorities of Puri from getting inside the temple and having a proper darshan. The broken hearted sage then decided to lay in front of the temple and fast until his death.  On the third day of his fasting, he had a vision of the Lord Jagannath directing him to get back to his native place and wait for a  Daru-Brahma( neem trunk) on the banks of Hoogly in a place called Mahesh. He was instructed by the Lord to make the idols of the trinity out of the trunk thus received and worship it ceremoniously.

The devotee then left for Mahesh  and continued with his austerities there. On one rainy night , he had the  dream of the arrival of the Neem Trunk. He jumped into the Hoogly river to bring the trunk home  and then got the deities carved and established the temple.

The temple was visited by Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu a couple of years later and he appointed Kamlakar Piplai as the mahant of the temple. It was Piplai who was responsible for starting the car festival at Mahesh. And more than  700 years on, the tradition is still followed in Mahesh.

The chariot at the Mahesh temple is made of iron. The Ratha is made in traditional Bengali Nabaratna style, e.g. it has nine churas/pinnacles.  The iron rath, with it’s nine pinnacles, towers to a height of 50 feet and weighs 125 tons. Running on 12 wheels of diameter 4 feet the rath was made at a cost of Rs 20,000 and have been in operation since 1885. The four storied Rath is fitted with two wooden horses and a chariot driver.  Apart from that the first stage contains wooden figures of Chaitanyalila, second and third stage contains Krishnalila and Ramlila respectively. The top stage houses the gigantic wooden idol of Jagannath

Not only this festival is the oldest but also the biggest Rathayatra in Bengal. Nearly 2-3 lakh people come to see the month-long fair. Lord Jagannath is pilled in His chariot to  goes to Serampur Gundicha Temple and then remains there till Punarjatra, or Ultorath, as it is popularly known in Bengal.

Ahmedabad Rathyatra

Ahmedabad RathyatraThe Rath Yatra of Ahmedabad is  celebrated on the same date as that of the Puri Rathyatra and it stands next to Puri Rathyatra in terms of grandeur and popularity. The annual chariot festival of  Ahmedabad is attended by 6-8 lakh devotees every year.

The city of Ahmedabad in Gujrat is known as the hub of cultural activities and the Jagannath temple at Jamalpur in the city is one of the oldest Jagannath temple in the country that dates back to the 14 the century. The tradition of the Rath Yatra though a recent one in comparison, still is over a century old!   The history of the temple from where the yatra starts goes back 450 years, when Hanumandasji, a sadhu, cleared the foliage around Jamalpur Darwaja on the banks of Sabarmati river and established a Hanuman temple. The statue of Hanuman is still in the basement of the temple. His successor Sarangdasji visited the famed Jagannath temple in Puri, Orissa, where he had a vision of the Lord asking him to install idols of the trinity – Lord Jagannath, Balram and Subhadra.

Narsinhdasji in 1877 started the Rath Yatra on the Puri model but on a smaller scale to mark Ashadhi Bij. Saraspur, with a temple managed by his gurubhai became the maternal home of the Lords corresponding to the Gundicha temple of Puri.

The  Rath Yatra at Ahmedabad has been observed ever since with much pomp and splendor. It is also a symbol of religious sanctity and unity and has been braced by dignitaries like Khan Abdul Gafar Khan repeatedly.

The glistening highlight of the Ahmedabad Rath Yatra is the procession of caparisoned elephants. Decorated elephants participate in almost all the important rituals associated with the festival. Another important feature is the participation of Akhada Sadhus and Mahants and the numerous floats with different themes. The day-long procession ends with the chariots returning to the Jamalpur Jagannath Temple, covering a 22km distance.

Rath Yatra of Manipur

Manipur Rath Yatra

Manipur Rath Yatra

Also known as kangchingba among the natives, the raty yatra of Manipur has slowly gained reputation as being a cultural festival that is celebrated in the region with unmatched passion.  The significance of the festival to the Manipuris can be gauged from the fact that it is the greatest festival of the Hindus in Manipur.

The First Ratha Yatra Festival in Manipur begun during the reign of Maharaja Gambhir Singh in 1832 A.D. Ever since, it has been celebrated with  ever increasing doses of enthusiasm by the local populace with each pasing year. Popularly, known as Jagobandhu in this hilly state, Lord Jagannath goes out in his annual stroll accompanied by his siblings in His chariot that  is 20 ft in  height and has six iron wheels attached to it.

The Rath is decorated beautifully with nice paintings and flowers of the three sides. The fashion and the procession are almost the same with that of Rath Yatra of Puri though in a miniature form. Flowers and fruits are offered to the Lord at every gate of the house from where the chariot of the Lord passes. In the night, a sankirtana is performed by both group of men and women separately, the men first, and then women follow. Such sankirtana is performed by standing in a circle with a pungyeiba (drumer) in the middle. The song is sung with the rhythm of the Pung (a kind of mirdanga used by Manipuri).

After the sankirtana , some group of young women and girls perform dances at the rhythm of the Pung. This is  followed with the distribution of prasadam the “Kshechiri” (cooked rice with dal, turmeric, chilly and salt and ghee), Uthi (peas, pieces of bamboo shoot with salt and soda), “Ironba ” of “Laphu” (plaintain trunk) and some other items can be added.

 

Man Animal Conflicts: Tragedy of Human Blunder

Man Animal Conflict

An elephant poisoned to Death near Human Dwellings in Assam

It is habitual for a resident of odisha to pick up any daily and put fleeting glances on reports of elephant’s electrocution or pachyderms dying on unmanned crossings hit by speeding trains. These stories have hit headlines with such intermittent regularity that they hardly attract any attention of layman anymore! So what happened last week in Kotpad was something brazen and tragic and invited lots of wrath of people as well as wildlife experts.

Wild bears killed eight villagers within a week causing panic among local people in the small town of Kotpad.  The residents finally beat the ravaging animal to death. The incident widely reported in media engaged lots of wildlife experts as well as wildlife enthusiasts in heated discussion.

The news was instrumental in attracting attention to one of the most neglected subject on the face of rampant industrialization of odisha – The growing Man and Animal Conflicts. Of late the incidence of such conflicts has increased and includes animals such as elephants, leopards, bears and even Olive-Ridley Turtles! The very fact that such conflicts have increased in the recent years, calls for understanding the human-wild animal conflict with all its complexities and take a very sensible scientific and compassionate approach to resolve the issue.

To begin with let’s focus on some statistics! Reports from the  Orissa Wildlife Organization  suggest that during the 6 years period from (2004-05 to 2009-10) there was a total of 352 cases of human death, 132 cases of human injury, 3863 cases of house damage and 21768 acres of crop damage due to elephant depredation, and 75 human death cases and 671 human injury cases due to other animals like bear, crocodile, wild pig, wolf and gaur. On the contrary, 331 elephant death cases have been reported during the same period, which include 55 deaths due to poaching for ivory, 96 cases due to accidents (mostly electrocution), 49 natural deaths, 82 due to diseases and 49 for unknown reasons. The same statistics go on to establish the total number of elephant population in the state to be  merely 1886. Similarly the  population of other wild animals have touched alarmingly  low proportions.

The statistics obviously tell the story they are meant to! The cases of man animal conflicts have been on rise and clearly the animals are on the receiving end. Competing with human beings for the same set of resources that once provided them with their sustenance is taking a toll on the animal population.

Human beings have started encroaching upon the area that once fed and bred these wild animals.  Large chunks of forest land have been diverted for mining, establishment of industries, roads, railways, hydroelectric projects, irrigation projects and their canal systems. Linear projects like roads, canals and railways also act as mechanical barriers in the movement of wild animals from one place to another. The habitat of the animals is clearly stressed and as their “zones” get encroached upon by human beings they have two options – either learn to co-exist or resent. And in either cases, the brunt is borne by the animals.

Odisha can take cues from countries like Thailand and Myanmar if it is serious about reducing the ongoing strife between the animal and man kingdom. These countries endowed richly with forest and animal resources have built a viable social-economic model around them. These countries promote their tourism industry around elephants. And what is interesting is that the elephant population far from being threatened keeps on growing at a healthy pace there. The same is true for countries like Australia that boasts of Kangaroo and Malaysia that promotes orangutans!

In Odisha, we need to pro-actively find a solution to habitat related problems of the animal along with ways to save them. Forest officials need to stop deforestation and poaching on one hand while stop human intrusion into sanctuaries in order to address this problem. No doubt forest laws are in place in Odisha. But implementing them with strict supervision is what is needed at this hour!

 

Finally OPL – Season 2 Sees the Day

Odisha Premier League - OPL

OPL- Season 2 Sees Light

Stung by charges of corruption and financial irregularities, the Orissa Premier League that started off brilliantly with much fanfare in the year 2011  and was  forced to be abandon ed by the Orissa Cricket Academy (OCA), has finally seen the day with the beginning of the start of OPL – Season 2 yesterday from 1st May.

After repeated postponements, the organizers took the event to a colorful start this year with much changes in the format and composition of the team. The opening ceremony of the gala event was held in Barabati Stadium in Cuttack yesterday amidst much fanfare.

Having done away with the  bidding system for purchase of players and the direct involvement of any corporate in the process, the  Orissa Cricket Association (OCA)  has devised its own plan and strategy to hold the OPL and has made a list of some 176 players putting them in five grades and fixing their match allowances according to the gradation of players. A total of eight teams have been short listed  that has been rechristened as  Barabati, Mahanadi, Dhauli, Rushikulya, Baitarani, Konark, Subarnarekha and Chilika.

The playing eleven of each team consists of three players each from Grade A and B, two players from Grade C and D and one player from Grade E. The players will be paid according to their grades. Each team will have three players from Ranji team, four each from B and C grade player pool and three or four players from local area. They will be paid Rs 50,000, Rs 40,000, Rs 30,000 and Rs 20,000 respectively for each match.

This year all the matches of the Orissa Premier League (OPL) will be played in Barabati stadium (cuttack) and VSS stadium (Sambalpur). While all the Group A matches will be held in Cuttack the Group B matches will be palyed in Sambalpur. At both the venues, the first match will be played from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm and second from 7.30 pm to 10.30 pm. Arrangements have also been made to get the matches telecasted on local TV channels.

The champions of OPL-II will get cash a cash prize of Rs 3 lakhs, while the runners-up will take home Rs 2 lakhs.The third-placed team will be richer by Rs 1 Lakh, while the Man of the Tournament will pocket Rs 25,000.

The Twenty 20 tournament could not be held last year after it came under the scanner of the vigilance department following allegations of black money having been invested by corporate who sponsored the event. The event this year , though sans any major sponsor still has everything in it to enthuse it’s fan and have their eyeballs glued to the TV screen!

Danda Jatra: One of The Popular Dance Forms of Odisha

Danda nacha

Danda nacha

Odisha is a land that is expressive culturally and has a lot to offer to the world in terms of art, songs and dance. Some of its celebrated folk dances are still throbbing to find peace with changing times. Danda nacha or the penance dance is one such folk dances of odisha that has fought the vagaries of time to be still popular in the state.

Celebrated mostly in different parts of Odisha, the dance ritual is performed in the month of “Chaitra” for seven to twenty one days. It ends on the Mahavisuva Sankranti that is the first day of Oriya New Year. The dance is undertaken by the devotees of Lord Shiva who observe the ritual as part of penance, roaming around street and villages with a brass idol of cobra mounted on pole.

The festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm as a welcoming ceremony to the spring season that lays foundation for the agricultural activities in the state of odisha. However there are historical allegories too that make the festival and this folk dance really fascinating.

Indian mythology is replete with anecdotes on Lord Shiva and his consort Sati. There is a reference in one such mythological story about a Yajna that was performed by Daksha Prajapati  in which Lord Shiva was not invited. The Lord took offence to it and consequenetly beheaded Daksha Prajapati. The wife of the killed Daksha then cursed the Lord and 12 other deities to be born as son of hermits suffering from leprosy. These 13 leper sons upon their birth on earth underwent severe penance observing Danda nacha and recovered.

Danda nacha is divided into three sessions – Dhuli Danda ( earth penance), Pani Danda( water penance) and Agni Danda ( fire penance). The devotees enact several activities based on farming on the streets under scorching sun as part of Dhuli Danda ritual. On dusk, they go to ponds or other water bodies to perform the Pani danda.As a part of the Agni danda, the devotees walk on embers of fire, jump through rings of fire and  swallow fireballs.

Danda Jatra is celebrated in different parts of the state. Danda Jatra of Galeri in the district of Ganjam is famous throughout odisha as it sees a one of the biggest congregation of devotees that can go up to 1000 to 1500. Similarly the Danda jatra of Nuagaon of Ganjamis also famous. Here at least 300 danduas(devotees) and 50 dancers participate in this. In the Danda jatra of Kutaguda of Ganjam almost 1200 danduas (devotees) join. In Odagaon, Khandapara and Ranpur of Nayagarh district danda jatra is celebrated with greater purity. Devotees in this place are known to hang themselves upside down in trees and face a fire that keep on burning down.

Danda nacha is a medium that assimilates several forms of dance forms on a single platform. It has thrived the tides of time to continue till date. A bit more government support & promotion would take this form of dance beyond the frontiers of the state.

Mahanadi River Basin Turning Into Toxic Basin of Odisha

River Mahanadi Getting Polluted and Toxic

River Mahanadi Getting Polluted and Toxic

Mahanadi, the largest river of odisha that irrigates the heartland of the state and provides water both for drinking as well as irrigation purposes to most is under threat. Pollution is finally beginning to have its impact on the river.

The Mahanadi runs through 494 km within Orissa with five main tributaries and four major distributaries and is the largest river system among the 11 rivers in the state. It has a basin area of 65,628 sq km with a population of 1.62 crore. There are about 34 cities, towns and urban conglomerates in the Mahanadi river basin area inside Orissa. Till recently, the river used to be the chief source of drinking for most of these cities and towns. However of late the water of the river is getting unfit for human use chiefly due to the indiscriminate pollution caused by sewage released into the Mahanadi .

With 86 per cent of the catchments and major tributaries of the river upstream located in industrial towns in the neighboring States of Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, the water of the Mahanadi is loaded with industrial wastes. The already contaminated water faces further mal treatment in human hands as the garbage of the town are dumped into it .

The bio-chemical oxygen demand in the Mahanadi has already reached an alarming stage and the water has become totally unfit for human use. The river itself has been classified as category ‘D’ river by the State Pollution Control Board (SPCB). It is only during the monsoons, when there is an increase in the level of water in the Mahanadi, that it is put in the “category C”.

To make things worse for the cities that dot its bank, sewerage system is completely nonexistent in the Sambalpur and Cuttack. All the waste water that is being produced in the cities get dumped in the river directly. The Orissa State Pollution Control Board (OSPCB) estimates untreated domestic wastewater discharge from urban settlements in the Mahanadi basin at 3,45,000 m3 (m3 = 1,000 liters) per day, contributing a biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) load of about 68.8 tones every day. To put it plainly, the OSPCB describes that direct consumption of water up to a stretch of six kilometers from Sambalpur town could lead to skin and stomach disorder of varying degrees.

Taking things into its own hand the OPSCB filed a criminal case against the Executive Officer of Sambalpur Municipality for his inability in handling the issue of pollution negligently thereby putting the lives of many in danger.  The case is pending in the court since 2010.  Subsequently the SPCB has even withdrawn the solid waste management authorization from the Sambalpur Municipality.

It is high time that the state government takes stern steps in this regard and make the river clean and safe for all.

Tribal Woman Gang Raped Inside A Government Hospital In Baripada

Raped

Rising Cases of rape in Odisha

In yet another case of barbaric sexual assault on women, that once gain exposes the  ineffectiveness of state police and substantiates the rise of female violence in the state, a tribal woman was gang raped inside the District Headquarters Hospital at Baripada after her husband was tied up and beaten mercilessly by the offenders. The criminals included two hospital employees. All the offenders have been arrested and brought to book.

The 25 year old woman and her husband, hailing from Dantiamuhan village under the Betonati police limit had gone to visit her brother who is undergoing treatment there following an accident. The couple had stayed back in the hospital to attend to the patient as there was nobody to take care of him. At around 7 pm in the evening, as the victim was taking a stroll outside the hospital compound; she was pounced at by these six men and taken to a secluded place behind the road heading towards the TB ward of the hospital. The husband who was with her was thrashed and completely overpowered. He was later tied to a tree as the men took turns to rape her one by one. They fled the scene of the crime leaving both of them behind in the night.

Later based on a complaint filed by the husband of the victim, police formed six teams and conducted raids at several locations the whole night. All the six accused were arrested by the early morning.  Two of the arrested were engaged with the hospital as sweepers, while another owned a betel shop in front of the hospital. The fourth is a driver of a hearse van. The ones employed as sweeper with the hospital were the first to notice the couple and invite other four to over the phone to commit the heinous crime.

Though all the accused have been arrested and forwarded to the court, the incident has sent shock waves across the peaceful township of Baripada. The intensity of the crime where a woman is raped in front of her husband and the place of execution, a busy government hospital , is something that is disturbing. And though the case has been picked up by various social organizations and political parties alike, it has once again raised serious question marks over the police ability in controlling crime in the state.

Andhra Slowly Bringing Koraput Villages Under It’s Administration

The plans are perfidious and injurious to the healthy relations between the two states!

Under Construction School

Construction of a school Building at Gaipadar Village in Koraput by the Andhra Government

But that does not deter the Andhra Pradesh government in slowly extending its area of administration beyond its natural territory. What began with the Polvaram Dam issue where  both the states came into loggerheads over water sharing has now gone well into the inland territories as the Andhra Pradesh Government has  started undertaking several development projects in the Koraput district, which is a clear transgression of  Odisha’s territories.

Kotia Panchayat of Koraput district has grabbed the limelight in Odisha as the Andhra Pradesh government has continued with implementation of its number of project in different villages of the panchayat. A school is being constructed at Gaipadar village by the assistance of the Andhra Government. Similarly it is also building concrete roads to connect the village to other ares. But what has raised the hackles of the Odisha government is the fact that the Andhra Pradesh Government has set up an Anganwadi Center in Sembi Village of of the same Panchayat.

A similar attempt by the Andhra Pradesh Government brought things to boiling point when 20 electricity poles were constructed  in the village and the Koraput district administration forcibly removed the electricity poles  before power supply could be started. Things have not been well off in the bordering village since then. And incidents of skirmishes between the Andhra Government and Odisha Government keep on happening on  a regular basis.

Meanwhile for the family of 40 Kandha Tribal residing in the village, life is hell. Deprived of basic amenities and constantly being sidelined by the Odisha government which has not done enough to safeguard their interest, they have no options but to switch sides. These tribal still live in abject poverty and are deprived of basic necessities like school, hospital and electricity.  So when the Andhra Pradesh government is undertaking various developmental projects for their benefits, they are more than happy to welcome them.

The Andhra Pradesh government, aware of the shifting loyalties of the residents have  even started providing them with commodities like 35 kg of rice,6 liter of kerosene,4kg of dal,3 liter of cooking oil,3kg of sugar,2kg of potato, ikg onion and 2 soaps to  nearly ten families to whom it has issued ration cards.

And while all these things are happening right under its nose, the Odisha government has done nothing but raised objections with the neighbouring government.  Clearly, it is a case of  underdevelopment and apathy that has led the people to switch loyalties. And the inefficiency of the Odisha government is highly visible not only in its incapacity in implementing policy measures but also in safeguarding its own territories!

Police Apathy Adds To The Agony Of Victim In Most Rape Cases In Odisha

Rape

Its a suffering in silence for rape victims in Odisha

In the midst of the raging controversy over the death of the Delhi rape case victim, the role of police has come under scanner. A more alert and sensitive police would have averted the tragic incident that happened in December 16th and shook the entire nation. The Delhi police has been obviously on the receiving end of the media for its ineptness.

The situation is not so cosy even in Odisha as the police administration here too has been slack enough in executing its duties properly. Forget about execution of duties, what is exasperating about the general police administration in Odisha is the fact that they have been busy burying most of the cases into obscurity under pressure from influential persons or for laxity in resolving the cases. It is appalling that the conviction rate in the rape cases in Odisha is almost negligent.

Take the case of Puri district for example. The district has hogged the limelight for all wrong reasons for the past few years. Be it the much hyped Puri-Konark Marine drive gang rape incident of 2008 or the much recent Pipili gang rape incident. While not much has happened in the first incident, the Pipili rape case is yet to be resolved even after the death of the victim Babina Behera and her family still lives under the shadow of terror.

Similarly the rape and murder of a student in Chandanpur was camouflaged as unnatural death by the police and mystery still shrouds the death of the girl. Similarly the sensational case of  Biti Mohanty who attempted to rape a foreign national at Konark Pantaniwas is still unresolved. The accused in this case, the son of a senior bureaucrat has been on run since the last 5 years.

It is tragic that after being victimized of something as terrible as rape, a girl goes through more pain in getting the cases resolved and gets the criminal convicted.  It is a pity that most women today hesitate to go to the police station because of the indifferent attitude of the police. Add to this, the delay in judicial trials owing to late filing of charge sheets by the police and the victim has no option but to suffer in silence.

If we need a society where women are respected and work hands in hands with their male companions, we need to provide them with a safe environment and until and our police should be prompt enough to ensure this sense of security to them .

India’s First Public Health University To Be Set Up In Odisha soon

Asian Institute of Public Health

Asian Institute of Public Health

Odisha is all set to have the first Public health university of the country in a few years from now. The first of its kind in the country, the university is scheduled to come up in Gramadiha village in Jatani, 20kms from Bhubaneswar. The state government has already given approval to Asian Institute of Public Health and the  first leg of work to start on the university has already started!

The government of Odisha has already allotted 17 acres of land for the upcoming university. In a general change of stance , the government under tremendous pressure after the spurt in Dengue cases in the state has thought it prudent to change its stance and go for  Public health universities.

Public health is the art and science of preventing disease through organized efforts and societal interventions. The majority of its effort is targeted at preventing the outbreak of diseases instead of just curing them. A public health university had been on the anvil of the central government for a long time and the clearance of the Asian Institute of Public Health to start operation in Jatni by the state government makes it first of its kind in the entire nation.

The government will soon sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the AIPH for the proposed varsity and after that the state Assembly has to pass the new university Bill for the privately-managed state university. Currently Odisha does not have any health or medical university though it has been widely talked to convert the VSS Medical College into a unitary university.

AIPH functionaries on the other hand are elated at the development and  have affirmed to begin operating in the state soon. “Though various colleges and institutes have been offering courses in public health, the number of professionals produced is minuscule. India needs around 10,000 more public health professionals at present. But the country is producing around 500 per year,” said Dr Sudhir Satapathy, head of academic affairs of AIPH. “The new university will reduce this gap,” he added.The university, once open  would offer master and postdoctoral degree, diplomas and certificates courses in public health and public health management to both medical and non-medical professionals.

 

Business and Beyond in Bali Yatra

Bali Yatra Stalls

For companies,it's a bumper time at Bali yatra

For the fair that is dubbed as the biggest in the state, Bali Yatra provides a unique opportunity for everybody – be it the small time sellers or  big brand companies; be it first time visitors or the seasoned buyers; be it the fun loving kids or frolicking teen-agers ! From the time it started, Bali Yatra keeps on reinventing itself as year after year people rejoice the high pitched environment prevailing on the banks of Mahanadi!

This year too, the fair has started with unmatched fervor and frolic! And proving all detractors wrong, the fair has not only managed to live up to the hype but also the expectations as the footfalls keep on increasing with each passing day! The shrillness of whistle and the congregation of stalls are providing the customers with a unique experience to shop around! Though some of the stall owners do affirm the fact that the footfall was thin in the first two days but have picked up tremendously now. But its not the footfall alone but sales figure that would enthuse the sellers

And for the initial statistics pouring in, the results have not been that encouraging! For the sellers of consumer durable, the fair meant quick business! And they have everything to offer here packaging neatly with promotional offers like  assured gifts, easy finance etc, however when compared  to last year, the sales have been marginally subdued this time . Stall owners have been able to rationally analyze the reason behind this and are quick to point towards the  just concluded festival of Diwali and Durga Puja! “People have already spent much during the festival seasons and are not willing to lighten their wallet easily”, they say.

However oblivious to statistics, the food stalls are doing brisk business! There are over 300 food stalls around the Bali Yatra ground that offer mouth smacking delicacies. Revelers who visit the fair end up tentatively in front of one stall or other! And would it surprise you if it were recounted that stall owners on an average are making around Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000  a day here!

Bali yatra

Craftsmen selling Terracota at Bali Yatra

Apart from these, there are other stalls which serve a plethora of causes! The Pallishree Mela for example have been a popular spot in the fairground that draws selected visitors. There is a rustic environment to the entire surrounding this particular place  and the very intent of the Pallishree Mela is to promote the rural produce of odisha during the Bali Yatra. Eco friendly products made by various SHGs( self help Groups) from around the state that include Patta Saree, Jute bags,non-woven bags, paper bags and beauty products  have been able to make a headway into the city folk’s life, thanks to the occasion.

Similarly for small time artisans too, the fair has provided tremendous opportunity to promote their craft. Items like pottery,jewelry and fabric pieces are sold in the fair. The craftsmen are happy  a lot to get their crafts sold at the fir! Business for them has been good too and what’s more important is the fact that many of these craftsmen have been offered contracts for house and office decoration too. Participating in the fair has thus been a great blessing for them!

With four more days, left for the fair to come to  close, the business and hullabaloo in between is all set to hit the zenith !