CUTTACK: Baliyatra, the biggest annual open air trade fair of Asia, kicked off in Cuttack amid traditional fanfare here on Monday. It will continue till December 4. The festival was inaugurated by Finance minister Bikram Keshari Arukha in presence of Agriculture minister Ranendra Pratap Swain and MP Bhatruhari Mahtab among others.
On the day, the District Council of Culture released its annual souvenir ‘Cuttack Baliyatra-2023’. Besides, several cultural programmes were organised by city-based Gopinath Behera Foundation, Soor Mandir, Ganjam’s Narendrapur Lokanruty, Balunkeswar Ghanta Murdanga, Puri’s Fate Fighter Malkhamba and Mayurbhanj’s Dakshinasahi Chhau Nruty Mandir.
Like previous years, the fair recorded a huge participation by traders, women entrepreneurs of self-help groups (SHGs), corporate houses and government agencies both from within and outside the state. As many as 2,000 stalls including 200 corporate stalls, 35 government stalls and around 600 food stalls have been set up on Killa Maidan (Upara Padia) adjacent to Barabati Fort and Tala Padia on the Mahanadi riverbed.
The Odisha Rural Development and Marketing Society (ORMAS) too has set up the national-level Pallishree Mela with around 420 stalls showcasing products ranging from handloom, handicrafts, rural homemade spices and household articles and other ethnic products from different districts of Odisha and other states including Delhi, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, Manipur, Tripura and West Bengal.
The ORMAS has also come up with a national level food festival wherein as many as 30 stalls against the usual 20 are set up in the Pallishree Mela offering popular cuisines from Odisha as well as other states like Rajasthan, Punjab and Gujarat. Joint CEO, ORMAS, Cuttack Bipin Rout said, “We have also planned to set up four demonstration stalls in association with OLM and Mission Shakti to showcase the method and process of making terracotta, kantha-stitch, handloom, dokra and other products made by WSHG members.”
Apart from that, sand art exhibition, jor rides and swings are also installed on the Baliyatra ground for the visitors. The fete also has stalls selling toys, gift and play items for children. Over 50,000 people thronged the fair ground on the day.
On the other hand, the Cuttack-in-Cuttack pavilion demonstrating life in a rural setup, tunnel aquarium showcasing over 1,000 species of marine and freshwater fishes including small sharks, jellyfish and whale and digital exhibition in an air-conditioned hanger over a sprawling 20,000 sq ft area are the major highlights of the fair this year.