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Bali Jatra


imgExactly on the dates of Karam Festival, the tribal people of Koraput observe the festival of Bali Jatra. Beginning from the eleventh day of the bright half of the month of Bhadrab it continues upto the full-moon. The beginning of the festival begins with Nuakhia (first eating) feast on which new rice is eaten. The festival takes the name for planting of various grains in the wet sand (Bali) brought from a nearby stream and is placed on a structure called Balijatra or sand house. This is an occasion for a number of other celebrations too. Men and women put on fancy dresses and rejoice with drinking, feasting, dancing and singing. In some areas a swing is set up with its seat studded with sharp nails and on this a Bejju (witch doctor) is made to swing. Goats, fowls and pigeons are sacrificed. The Bejju then walks on the bed of live charcoal. He dances in trance for all the three days with intermittent rest during which he propheses both good and evil portends to grant boons to the people.

Peculiarly the ritual of swinging on a seat of nails and fire-walking is observed by the low-caste Hindus of the coastal areas during the Pana Sankranti festival. It may be that the tribal people have adopted the ritual from the Hindus as such rituals are not in the tradition of tribal culture.

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