Old is gold in tribal land

Jeypur: Tribals in Jeypur of Koraput district are ready to celebrate `Dussehra` in traditional style with the `lathi procession` to be held tomorrow. "This year, about 50 tribal groups have been invited to Jeypore with their `lathis`," said local MLA Rabi Narayan Nanda who reintroduced the tradition through his `Dussehra Puja Committee` in 2005.

In ancient time, `lathi processions` were taken out by bare foot tribals carrying small idols of goddess `Durga` on palanquins and played local musical instruments from far flung areas to Jeypur. In Jeypur, the procession was mainly brought out in the midnight of the Vijaya Dasami and devotees gathered around a celestial fire at a ground to perform `homa puja` which continued till the wee hours of the next morning.

Sacrifice of cattle was a part of the puja which was also known as `Aparajita` or `Durga Puja`. After the puja, the tribals used to bring their lathis to their respective villages and worshipped them throughout the year. To preserve the old traditions,similar celebrations would be held this year, Rabi Nanda informed .

The participating tribals belonged mostly to Bhumiya, Gadba, Paarja, Soura, Bhatra, Gond, Didai, Durua, Amantya, Kondhy, Bonda and Koya communities.