Talari Yatra – A chariot festival with tint of indigenous culture

Bhubaneswar: While lakhs of devotee love to visit Puri to witness the world famous Rath Yatra, in other nondescript corners of the State, the festive fervour for this annual festival is no less.

In Gunupur of Rayagada district, a beautiful amalgamation of the 200-year-old long tradition of car festival and tint of indigenous culture is really eye catching.

Residents celebrate Rath Yatra in a unique style and call it Talari Jatra. Since Rath Yatra falls during the rainy season; as per tradition, locals, most of which are dependent on farming, buy conical hats called ‘Talari’ from the fair organised during the festival. Accordingly, the chariot festival has been named Talari Jatra.

“‘Talari’ protects us from rain while working in fields and so it bears as much significance as any festival and Rath Yatra gives a very good opportunity for people to buy these hats made from dried palm leaves. Traders also earn good profit during the occasion,” said Chakradhar Pani, a local resident.

The festival is one of a kind in the tribal-dominated districts of southern Odisha. Culture experts trace the roots of this traditional chariot festival back to 18th century. Interestingly, during the festival two chariots with ‘Chaturdhamurati’-the quartet of Lord Balabhadra, Devi Subhadra, Lord Jagannath, and Lord Sudarshan- are placed on each and pulled by devotees.

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While in the ‘Bada Ratha’ – the bigger chariot is pulled by general people, the smaller chariot – ‘Sana Ratha’ is reserved only for women.

Thousands of people not only from Gunupur but also from adjoining areas like neighbouring Gajapati district and Andhra Pradesh also take part in the festival.