Known to be the holiest month according to Hindu calendar, Kartik Purnima is celebrated across the world irrespective of religious inclinations. During this month all the pious Hindus refrain themselves from eating fish, meat and egg. All of them take pre-dawn  bath and visit temples as a matter of routine habit. 



The last five days known as ‘Panchuka’ (a period consisting of five days) are considered more sacred, in which there is wide participation of devotees. The  last day being the “Kartika Purnima”. For all the five days the women draw beautiful flower-designs Rangolis around the ‘Chaura’ (a small temple like structure with a ‘Tulsi’ plant overhead) with colour powder.



Most of the Shiva temples get crowded with devotees offering prayer to Lord Shiva who is said to have killed the demon ‘Tripurasura’ on this day. Kartika Purnima celebrates the power of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Lord Shiva killed the demon Tripusara on this day thus the day is also called known as Tripuri Purnima and Tripurari Purnima. This Purnima is one of the most propitious days for worshipping of Shiva, next only to the Maha Shivaratri. It is believed Puja, snan or Daan on Kartik Purnima is equivalent to 100 Ashvamedha Yagyas. Good deeds on this day lead the individual toward the way of salvation. Apart from these, such pious deeds bring the devotee closer to supreme power to beget blessings of good health as well as wealth.



Group singing of ‘kirtans’ and loud beating of ‘Mrudanga’ and cymbals continue for the whole day.

Karthik Purnima was considered the most auspicious day by the traders (sadhabas) of Odisha to venture on a journey to distant lands namely the islands of Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). The ritual of launching tiny paper boats lit by lamps placed within its hollow is known as Boita Bandana. Not only in River Mahanadi but also in many other rivers , ponds and sea people set sell to their little ships in the early morning of Kartik Purnima.

“Boita Bandana” a unique festival which takes place in the “Kartika Purnima” morning is significant to the ancient history of Odisha. This reminds the maritime glory of the State. In olden days the ‘Sadhabas’ (Sea Traders) used to sail off to distant Islands like Java, Sumatra, Borneo, Ceylon etc. for trade by huge boats (Boita).



The women of the community were giving them a hearty see off by saying ‘Aa ka Ma Boi’ which symbolizes four Odia months i.e. Asadha, Kartika , Margashira and Boisakha.



Though the  days are now gone, but the memory is still alive. People now float tiny boats made out of cork and coloured paper or bark of the banyan tree decorated with incense sticks, earthen lamps, flowers, fruits and coins remembering the past glory.



There are many reasons for Boita Bandana being so special to Odia families. Since the state is situated by the sea and we have a strong maritime culture, this event is an integral part of our traditions. The day marks the end of the Sharad Ritu and the start of Hemant Ritu. This day also marks the onset of winter in India.



Bali Yatra Festival in Odisha marks the culmination of all the religious festivities held in the month of Karthik, which is considered the most auspicious month of the 12 months in a calendar year. The historic Baliyatra has been an inseparable part of the socio-cultural mileu of the millennium city of Cuttack. To commemorate the ancient maritime glory of the past, this vast trade fair of national repute is being organised every year in the shape of Baliyatra  Bali Yatra, which is said to be the largest fair of Odisha, begins on Kartik Purnima and lasts for a period of seven days.



The festival is held in the sands of river Mahanadi in Cuttack to mark the glorious past of the state as in the ancient days.

The fair of Bali Yatra is attended by thousands of enthusiasts and is marked with fun and frolic at the riverbanks where countless shops selling food, clothes and miscellaneous items and swings come up during the evenings.Its like a must for all the people in cuttack to visit it once.



Apart from all the food stalls in Bali Yatra, the most unique among all the foods are THUNKA POORIS….



which is a very large size poori  served to customers only during Baliyatra. This unique delicacy is traditionally served with Chena tarkari ( Spiced Cheese balls curry) and  Phulkobi tarkari (Cauliflower and Potato curry).This is an humble attempt on my part to make this king size Poori at home for dinner accompanied by Chena Tarkari and Phulkobi Kassa.



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6 thoughts on “BALI YATRA – Remembering Odisha’s Glorious Maritime Glory”

  1. It is a treasurable post in your blog.The “Aa Ka Ma Boi…” is a generational blend,for those like me who are away from Odisha all their working lives and beyond.In fact,the Bali Jatra of Cuttack should be on the tourism and culinary maps of India.
    Dr.Bidhu K Mohanti,New Delhi

  2. Quite a vivid description on “Kartika purnami and bali jatra” ..
    Keep sharing such posts on our Odia tradition and festivities.

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