In the ancient times, merchants from Odisha went on business trips in foreign countries like Bali, Java and Sumatra. Their family saw them off and the ritual of Boita Bandaana on Kartika Purnima began. It is said that winds blew in favourable direction on Kartika Purnima and it aided the merchants to steer their boats. The festival of Bali Jatra in Cuttack celebrates this maritime legacy of Odisha.
The story of Tawpoi, her merchant brothers and cruel sisters-in-law is also set during this era with Kartika Purnima as the backdrop. Moreover, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, on his way to Puri, landed in Cuttack after crossing the Mahanadi on this very day.
2. The name
Because this makeshift market was on the sand (Bali) banks of Mahanadi, this whole affair was termed as Bali Jatra. Scholars are also of the opinion that because the sailors’ destination was the country of Bali, the fair was named so.
3. Other such fairs
Besides Cuttack, there are other places where fairs are also held— Kalinga Baali Jatra in Paradeep and Chelitola Baali Jatra in Tirtol, Jagatsinghpur.
4. One-stop marketplace
One can find anything under the sun being sold at this mega fair on the banks of Mahanadi—from safety pins to even cars, houses and trucks!
5. Food n’ Fun
Food stalls mint money left, right and centre during Baali Jatra. Dahi bara, guchup, noodles, thunka puri, chhenna tarkari, one-on-one free ice creams and a variety of other delicacies are available to cater to the Odia taste bud. There are Ferris wheels and various other games for the entertainment of adults and children alike.