Railways and Information Technology (IT) minister Ashwini Vaishnaw made a special mention of Odisha’s Baliyatra at the G20 Digital Economy Ministers’ meet in Indonesia’s Bali.
Speaking at the event, Vaishnaw said, “It is good to meet in person. Especially, because this meeting is in Bali. On the east coast of India, there is a culturally rich state of Odisha. In Odisha, millions of people celebrate Baliyatra every year. It is a festival dedicated to the centuries-old maritime trade links between India and Indonesia.”
Meanwhile, demands have grown to accord UNESCO intangible cultural heritage to Odisha’s Baliyatra, also known as Boita Bandana, that has been celebrating the glorious maritime history of Odisha for ages.
Last year, UNESCO added Durga Puja and the world-famous Kumbha Mela, on the intangible cultural heritage representative list. So, it’s high time Baliyatra, which celebrates the enterprising spirit of ancient India, is recognised at the international-level.
The 10-day festival, which begins on full-moon day of Kartika Purnima, is an integral part of the cultural ethos of Odisha. It is celebrated as an open fair and marks the days when Sadhavas (Odia sailors) would start their journey to distant lands of Bali, Java, Sumatra and Borneo for trade and cultural expansion.
As Centre is trying to improve trade and commerce with ASEAN countries, Vaishnaw highlighted about Baliyatra and the trade links that exists between India and Indonesia since centuries.
Earlier, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan had also tweeted about Baliyatra.
Taking to his Twitter handle, he wrote, “Among the many similarities, Baliyatra is also a testimony to the centuries-old links, unique connection and cultural symbiosis between Odisha and Bali. Glad that both India and Indonesia remain committed to forge stronger people-to-people linkages for mutual prosperity.”
“This gesture of Ashwini Vaishnaw is commendable and surely will be fruitful soon. I request the State government and the district administration to make Baliyatra so grand that traders from outside the state and outside the country are attracted to come here,” said Sukant Mohanty, General Secretary, Baliyatra Traders’ Association.
Bhabani Shankar Chayani, DM Cuttack said, “The status of Baliyatra is going to National and International level. This is indeed a moment of pride for Odisha. We are leaving no stones unturned to arrange international level arrangements and take Baliyatra to another level.”
Notably, Baliyatra, this year, is scheduled to be held in the second week of November.