Cuttack: Finance and Excise Minister Sashi Bhusan Behera, in the presence of three of his Cabinet colleagues, inaugurated the Baliyatra here on Friday evening. Dozens of BJD MPs and MLAs and other party functionaries were also present at the colourful inaugural ceremony that was presided over by district Collector Arvind Agarwal.
The Baliyatra along with a City Festival, held as part of the World Cup Hockey extended inaugural ceremony to be held at Barabati Stadium here, will continue up to December 2. The Baliyatra, associated with the maritime glory of the ancient Kalinga, is basically a trade and cultural fare that attracts revellers not only from the State but from outside also.
The day also being the auspicious Kartik Purnima, more than a lakh people visited both the fare grounds and relished their favourite food stuffs from the vendors and food stalls lined up for the occasion.
People in large numbers also visited different stalls of a Gandhi Shilpa Bazaar and a Pallishree Mela organised by the Ormas to market different ethnic products.
At least 1,300 stalls and an equal number of vendors with their temporary kiosks have spread across over 50 acres of the two fare grounds hoping to a brisk business during the ten days of the festival.
In order to control vehicular traffic in and around the fare sites, the district administration has provided free bus services to the fare grounds from three vantage locations of the city.
Earlier in the day, people in large numbers floated miniature boats in water bodies at different ghats of rivers Mahanadi and Kathajodi as a mark of respect to the ancient Sadhavs (mariners), who established trade and cultural links through sea routes with different archipelagos of the Indian Ocean. Legend says that even Kalinga kings had set up colonies in these islands.