The return journey of Goddess Durga at Dhenkanal was a blend of many traditions. While it was Bullock Festival that stole the show at Bhuban, ‘Paika Akhadas’ marked the Bhasani at Talborekote and other places.
Around 45 bullocks were decorated with ornaments, beads, bells and colourful velvet saddles and taken around villages prior to the immersion.
This 150-year-old tradition of bullock festival was started by ‘Thorias’ or salt merchants, when the bullocks were the only means of transportation and used for trading by the community. Every family chipped in to make the festival a grand affair. Each of them spent around Rs 50,000 on the decoration of the bullocks.
In Talborekote village, 10 km from the district headquarters town, villagers took out an impressive procession of ‘Paika Akhada’ performers.
The procession started from Chandi Mandir which continued till Jatra Padia where the ‘Paikas’ exhibited their skills using traditional arms like ‘khanda’, ‘bhala’, ‘gupti’, ‘pipa’, ‘barchha’, ‘baneri’, ‘gada’ and shields. Even children displayed acrobatic skills. The rehearsal of this procession had started a month back. It is said that former kings of Dhenkanal promoted ‘Akhada’ for safety of people.
Earlier on Wednesday, thousands of people witnessed ‘Ravan Podi’ near mini-stadium. Such was the crowd that vehicular traffic came to a standstill on the Dhenkanal-Cuttack-Angul main road. Spectacular fireworks were a part of the ‘Ravan Podi’. Eleven puja pandals were erected for Dussehra.