Tribals in Jeypore are all set to celebrate Dussehra in traditional style with ‘lathi processions’. Over a lakh people are expected to throng the tribal district of Koraput to witness the traditional Durga Puja.
Like previous years, over 50 ‘holy’ lathis (bamboo sticks), considered images of Goddess Durga, are to be taken from various villages across the district amidst beating of drums to the Jeypore royal palace. After specific rituals at Kanaka Devi temple in front of the palace, these lathis besides palanquins of Devi Bhagabati and Kalika will be taken in a grand procession to the Dussehra Grounds. On Dasami, specific rituals are performed on the lathis marking the end of the 10-day Dussehra festival.
In ancient times, ‘lathi processions’ were taken out by barefoot tribals carrying small idols of Goddess ‘Durga’ on palanquin and played local musical instruments from far-flung areas to Jeypore.
According to old timers, during the rule of Jeypore kings, tribal headmen would come to Jeypore with these lathis and keep them in the local temple till Dussehra which was a 16-day affair. The tribals mostly belonged to Bhumiya, Gadba, Parja, Soura, Bhatra, Gond, Didai, Durua, Amantya, Kondhy, Bonda and Koya communities.
Sources said this year, tribal heads of various villages will be felicitated and tribal dance performances, ‘Ravana Podi’, and fireworks will be organised. Over 40 puja pandals have been erected in Jeypore and Koraput areas this year. Special Dussehra rituals are also being organised in Bhagawati, Kalika, Bhandargharani, Birikhamba and Majhigharani temples. Elaborate security arrangements have been made at all these temples.