BERHAMPUR: The festive fervour in the city is at its zenith. The biennial Budhi Thakurani Yatra is drawing more crowds from far and near who wish to seek the blessings of the Goddess and witness the mythological characters roaming the streets.
During the festival, the Goddess is taken out of the main temple and shifted to a temporary abode at Desibehera street in Bada Bazaar area where She will stay till April 29.
The devotional fair includes a process of ‘danda’ in which devotees whose wishes are fulfilled perform various risky stunts or even dress and enact as mythological characters. They go around the city on foot, bikes, bicycles or rickshaws.
The rush of devotees for dressing up as mythological characters is helping the Chitralaya owners revive their business.
Once the ‘chitralayas’ were in great demand for staging dramas and folk shows. But after a decline in the number of stage shows, the income of chitralaya units in the city reduced drastically, says Ram Kumar Rout, a painter at Zanana Hospital Road.
Since this year the yatra will be held for nearly 32 days, the chitralaya owners hope to earn a good income, he added.
Though the actual number of Chitralayas in Berhampur is around 12, during Thakurani Yatra the number shots up to around 40 shops in Bada Bazaar area.
Popular among the mythological characters are Krishna, Radha, Durga, Shiva, Parsuram, Ram, Laxman, Sita and Hanuman. The devotees also get painted or dressed as tiger, ‘pilakhai dahani’, ‘chod gazia’ and ‘chata nacha’.
While devotees are charged Rs 250 to Rs 1,000 for their transformation into a mythological character on the basis of the quality of the costume and body painting, the costliest costume happens to be that of a tiger for which the whole body is painted with the stripes of the tiger. It costs Rs 5,000.
In addition to it, the tiger has to be accompanied by a troupe of ‘changu’ beater, for whom the painters charge around Rs 4,000.
Engrossed in the characters, the devotees move from house to house of their acquaintances as well as others to collect the donation. As per the tradition, the money collected is spent for purchasing coconut, banana, fruits and sweets offered to the Goddess, which is later distributed among the donor house owners.