Cassian Baliarsingh

Holi, the festival of colours, is around the corner. Every year, Holi is celebrated with a whole lot of grandeur and pomp all across the country. This year, Holi will be celebrated on March 8.

However, this Odisha village celebrates the festival of colours on March 5 & 6, two days before Holi. Residents of Bhandaripokhari in Bhadrak district celebrate the festival of colours with a unique tradition.

In this village, people celebrate Holi with the local police. Unlike the Holi festival where people celebrate it with their loved ones, people in this village celebrate it with the cops. The two-day festival is celebrated in a grand manner as common people and the police here bask in festivities through colours, drinks and food.

This popular tradition is known as Munsi Melana and is being celebrated in the village for the past 80 years. This year is the 81st year of the historic festival and celebrations have already started in the village.

As per sources, local people here endured inhumane torture during British rule. The torture became so severe that one day people set the local police station on fire. This created enmity between the police and the local people here.

In a bid to spread brotherhood and friendship between the local people and police, then Bhandaripokhari IIC Babulal Munsi started this ‘Melana’ that has over the years turned into a festival and is celebrated every year.

Every year, hundreds of people march towards Bhandaripokhari police station with the ‘medha’ of Radha-Krishna. After reaching Bhandaripokhari police station, people first smear colours on the face of all the police personnel and then begin the two-day celebration.

Dance programmes, music and sweets distribution are held near the police station with the participation of thousands of local people. Lip-smacking sweets are also prepared and distributed among the locals.

“In most cases, common people fear coming to the police stations and seeking help. So, this unique festival is a step towards breaking that fear and creating a bond between the common people and policemen,” said Tapan Pradhan, IIC, Bhandaripokhari.

Rubyrani Jena, a local resident said, “On this day, common people and the police engage in playful activities and have a good time by playing Holi together. ‘Medha’ of Radha and Lord Krishna is also brought where people offer their prayers.”

(Reported by Parthasarathi Nayak, OTV)