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Vikash Sharma

Cuttack/ Bhubaneswar: After granting state-level festival status, Odisha government has now urged Centre to accord ‘National Maritime Heritage Festival’ tag to Bali Yatra of Cuttack.

In a letter to Union Minister of Tourism and Culture, Prahalad Singh Patel, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Wednesday stated that, “Bali Yatra is an integral part of the cultural ethos and is embedded in the collective consciousness of Odia people.”

Bali Yatra, also known as Boitabandana, is an ancient festival held in Cuttack to commemorate the glorious tradition of seafaring activities of Odia mariners ( Sadhavas). It marks the days when ancient Sadhavas or the sailors would set sail to distant islands of Bali, as well as Java, Sumatra and Borneo for trade and cultural expansion.

This maritime heritage and overseas trade related achievements of ancient India are evident in Indus Seals. On Eastern seaboard, Odia mariners were the torchbearers of Indian maritime prowess since ancient times.

The footprints of this enterprise are evident in South Eastern regions particularly in Bali, Java and Sumatra. People of Indian origin in general are known as ‘Klings’ in South Eastern countries and this could be indicating the old association with Kalinga in terms of trade and cultural exchanges, wrote Naveen in his letter.

Naveen further wrote that, “as India looks to the East to revive the age-old relations with South East Asia aiming at mutual economic growth of India and the countries in that region, It would be appropriate and timely that Bali Yatra which celebrates the enterprising spirit of ancient India is recognised at the National level. This will be befitting tribute to our heritage and an inspiration for our future.”

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