Cuttack: Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the historic Baliyatra festival here on Sunday evening in front of the majestic Barabati Fort on the bank of river Mahanadi.
In fact, thousands of people had began merrymaking and relishing the famous foodstuff of the city dahi vada, alu dum and thunka puri since morning at the fair grounds after visiting temples and sailing miniature paper boats to mark the celebrations of Boita Bandana.
Patnaik along with his Cabinet colleagues Surya Narayan Patra, Devi Prasad Mishra, Pratap Jena, members of Lok Sabha Bibhu Prasad Tarai, Bhartruhari Mahatab, legislators Pravat Biswal, Debashis Samantray, Chandrasarathi Behera and Ramesh Rout, city Mayor S K Ghosh and Zilla Parishad chairperson Laxmi Bilasini Biswal were present at the inauguration ceremony that was presided over by district collector Kishore Kumar Mohanty.
Seeing the enthusiasm among the people, the chief minister in his address announced extension of the festival for another day.
Earlier, the festival was scheduled to end on November 27.
Traders from both state and outside have set up around 1300 stalls with ethnic stone and bamboo household items like Sila, Chaki, Kula, and Tokei to latest electronic gadgets at the Baliyatra grounds and the paths leading to the festival grounds.
With a favourable weather and elaborate administrative and police arrangements made for the festival, Baliyatra is likely to witness heavy footfalls on all days.
The district administration this year has focused mainly on organising grand cultural programmes to highlight the rich culture of the state.
The administration too has laid emphasis on filigree pavilion that has come here for the first time this year.
Besides, the local civic body has emphasized on observing a polythene-free festival and accordingly the traders have been strictly asked to avoid the use of polythene bags, plastic cups, glasses and plates.
Instead, we have made arrangements to make available sufficient alternatives like paper bags, earthen cups and paper plates to be used on all days of the festival, said the city mayor S K Ghosh.