Sanjeev Kumar Patro

Bhubaneswar:  As the nation celebrated its 71st Republic Day on Sunday, with a grandeur display of the whole might of Indian heritage, culture and military strides, the rolling out of Rukuna Rath tableau from Odisha on the majestic Rajpath in the national capital has brought a paradigm shift in tableau shows.

As per governance observers, the selection of the theme of Rukuna Rath by the Odisha  government is apparently seen as an initiative by the State to carve a niche in the country as a land of perennial Rath Yatras.  

What's worth mentioning here is Rukuna Rath, the annual sojourn of Lord Lingaraj, is ancient to the annual world famous Rath Yatra of Lord Jagannath, if folk literature of Odisha is to be believed. Both the car festivals are grand in nature. While Rukuna Rath Yatra falls in March - April, the Puri Car fest takes place in June - July.

The roll-on of Rukuna wheels on the grand Rajpath of National Capital indicates to an endeavour by the Odisha government to popularise an ancient car fest of the State at an universal platform like the Republic Day Parade, where nearly 150 foreign dignitaries have attended the national event, besides a huge domestic crowd thronged from nearly five states.

An analysis of the Odisha tableaux that rolled out at Rajpath on the occasion of R - Day since the year 2008 -2020 reveals that State's tableaus had participated on only 7 occasions. The R-Day in years 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2018 and 2019 had missed any tableau display from Odisha.

Moreover, the analysis shows during the period 2008 - 2020, on the occasions the State tableau rolled out in national capital, it had only showcased cultural heritage of Odisha like the traditional maritime trade (Sadhav Sons legacy), Paika dance, legacy of celebrated poet Jayadev and Gita Govind, Boita Bandana, caves of Khandagiri & Udaygiri, Chandan Jatra and Dola Jatra.

This the first instance where State government has projected at the world stage a festival that has the potential to become magnet for tourists, and also for the first time has put in its endeavours to create a niche in the arena of religious tourism - a USP on Car Fests.

On 71st R-Day celebrations, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh are the two states that have showcased fests celebrated in a grand way. AP tableau displayed the annual Brahmotsavam held at Tirumala during October (Navaratris) that draws huge inflow of tourists.  

Lesson From Goa: The theme of Goa's tableau for Republic Day 2020 has been 'seashore' and it showcased seashore, biodiversity and livelihoods of people of the state. A life-size guitar-playing frog perching atop the tableau carried a campaign message 'Save the Goa Frog'.

What could Odisha do? Taking a leaf out here, Odisha could go for a tableau on saving seashore biodiversity and Olive Ridley turtles with a campaign message of 'Save the Turtles'. Such a paradigm shift in tableau displays could prove windfall for Odisha in drawing tourist inflows.