What is Baliyatra?
Baliyatra made it into the Guinness World Record for making 22,000 paper boats in 35 minutes. The Guinness Record was created to raise global awareness about Cuttack’s Baliyatra.
- Baliyatra literally means “voyage to Bali”. It is one of India’s largest open-air fairs.
- The festival commemorates the 2,000-year-old maritime and cultural links between the ancient Kalinga (present-day Odisha) and Bali and other South and Southeast Asian regions that include Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Burma (Myanmar) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
- The origin of the nine-day festival can be traced back to more than a thousand years.
- The celebrations commence on Kartik Purnima (full moon night in the month of Kartik). This is the day when sadhavas (traders) traditionally began their voyage across the sea, when the winds are favourable for the boita (boats).
- The most popular items for trade between Kalinga and Southeast Asia are pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, silk, camphor, gold and jewellery.
The Cuttack district administration and Cuttack Municipal Corporation organized the Baliyatra in collaboration with several other government entities. Lakhs of people from Cuttack and neighboring districts took part in the open-air fair by the Mahanadi river.
Besides having cultural and historical significance, the Baliyatra has commercial significance as well. It is the time when businesses thrive since prices of products are comparatively low. The district administrator allocates more than 1,500 stalls for traders through auction. The fair is expected to witness business worth more than Rs.100 crore over nine days.
After the pandemic, the festival this year was expanded further. It was held in an area spanning 85 acres of land. It was extended by the government to help businesses and women SHGs to gain more profits. A special event was also organized at Barabati Stadium, where some 2,100 students made 22,000 paper boats at a single venue in 35 minutes. The Guinness World Record recognized “the most people folding origami sculptures simultaneously”.
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