SALEPUR: Thousands of devotees thronged the Gangeswar temple of Lord Shiva at Matanagar village under Salepur block to witness the famous Patua Yatra on Tuesday.
The yatra, an annual feature, is said to have originated about 400 years ago and is famous for Patua Nacha. Four forms of dances - Charki Patua, Kanta Patua, Khanda Patua and Agni Patua - are performed here. The participants, called Patuas, are usually those who have taken a vow to participate in the dance for the fulfillment of their wishes. However, there is no caste bar.
Those who want to participate in the dance have to arrive at Gangeswar temple five days prior to the Maha Bisuva Sankranti and perform several rituals for purification of body and mind. On the first three days, they have to eat only rice boiled in milk and observe fast two days prior to the festival. These two days are popularly known as Masanta and Sankranti.
The Patuas wear a special attire for this festival. They can only wear clothes of saffron, red and yellow colour. They also sport a headgear made of cork and flower and hold a sacred stick. Irrespective of their caste, they put on a sacred thread and adhere to the traditional costume.
At the end of the festival, the Patuas take a dip in a pond popularly called Patua Pokhari at Dharmagatpur. They immerse their sacred stick and thread in the pond and return to the temple to offer prasad.