Dubai: The Paschim Odisha Parivaar of United Arab Emirates (UAE) organised Puspuni Celebrations at Dubai on the 19th of January, 2018. The star attractions at this year’s celebrations were Shri Pankaj Bhue and Shri Mohammed Jafar Iqbal, both Members of India’s National Blind Cricket Team.
‘PUSPUNI’ is an annual festival observed by the people of Western Odisha. This festival is observed on the Puni (Full Moon in English) day of the Month of Pus (Pausha in Sanskrit). It derives its origin from the age-old Agrarian culture of the land. Basically, it is an annual occasion wherein the farmer families celebrate their annual harvest of paddy. It has given rise to a great tradition of celebration by other communities too. People of Western Odisha, irrespective of their economic occupation feast, sing and dance and rejoice in giving away on this day.
The day long celebrations were held at an outdoor venue, the Al Barsha Pond Park in Dubai. Since morning, Non Resident Odiyas of UAE gathered in large numbers at the venue to join the celebrations. People were dressed in traditional Sambalpuri attire and popular Sambalpuri songs rent the air. Many games for adults and kids were organised. A special painting competition for children themed on Puspuni was also conducted. The highlight of the celebration was the delicious food – A sumptuous Puspuni Lunch with traditional dishes like ‘Mansha Tarkari’ and ‘Aambila’ was served to all the revellers.
In the afternoon, India’s bravehearts – National Blind Cricket Team Members Shri Pankaj Bhue who hails from Bargarh and Shri Mohammed Jafar Iqbal who hails from Bhubaneswar joined the celebrations as special guests. Both these players were also members of the Blind Cricket World Cup winning team in 2012. They were accompanied by Shri Mahantesh GK President, World Blind Cricket Council and Cricket Association for the Blind in India (CABI) and Shri John David General Secretary CABI. Also present was Shri Aswini Sahoo Corporate Fund Raising Manager, Samarthanam Trust for the Disabled.
The players and officials were felicitated by the senior members of the Paschim Odisha Parivaar and Odisha Samaj of UAE. They were presented with plaques, flowers and other gifts. The atmosphere became electric when the players took the mike and recounted their historic moments and glorious matches. Shri Pankaj was particularly emotional and thanked the Paschim Odisha Parivar for providing him an opportunity to celebrated Puspuni. On the actual day of the festival (2nd January) he was training in Bangalore and had missed the celebrations. Shri Jafar Iqbal also talked about his World Cup winning moments and how he has struggled to bring up the popularity of the game.
Shri Mahantesh explained in detail how blind cricket is played by the visually impaired players. He talked about how blind cricket is gaining in popularity and requested all to support the game whole heartedly.
All the guests were overjoyed to meet members of the Prabasi Odia Community and were very happy to be a part of the Puspuni Celebrations. The organisers said that they were greatly honoured by the presence of such wonderful talents who are playing Cricket despite having disabilities. The entire crowd felt very proud to be in the presence of such heroes.
India played Pakistan in the Blind Cricket World Cup Final at Sharjah, UAE today and won it. This is the second consecutive World Cup win for Team India. The entire crowd had joined together and wished Team India all the best for today’s match.
The Paschim Odisha Parivaar of UAE continues to promote Western Odisha’s Culture and Traditions on foreign soil. Nuakhai Bhetghat – 2016, organised in UAE had ‘Rangabati’ singer Jitendra Haripal’s first performance outside India. Puspuni 2017 celebrations featured Padmashri Haldhar Nag on his maiden foreign trip. Nuakhai Bhetghat 2017, the World’s Largest Prabasi Nuakhai Bhetghat, had internationally acclaimed Sambalpuri and Odissi dancer Shri Saswat Joshi and veteran actor and playwright Shri Atal Bihari Panda as special guests. Also joining the celebrations were a 12 member troupe of Sambalpur Kala Parishad.
The Pashcim Odisha Parivaar of UAE feels proud to have been able to make these attempts to successfully showcase the culture, language and traditions of Western Odisha to the World. It shall always be its endeavour to make more efforts in this direction in the future.