37th Ekamra Walks: Hopping monuments, Ekamra walkers also discover Odia traditions in Old Town area

Bhubaneswar: Fifty IIT Bhubaneswar students and twenty five other walkers teamed up today to explore the heritage sites in the Old Town area of the city as they took part in the 37th heritage tour, but apart from archaeology, they also explored the traditional practices while on the move as the road-side vendors near the Lingaraj Temple, today came up with several exotic herbs and vegetables for the “Sathi Osha’’ puja. The unique event is typically celebrated in Odia homes as mothers on this day organise it for the safety and betterment of her children.
As the curious Ekamra Walks visitors asked the vendors to explain the unique tradition, a local businessman Akshaya Rath explained “Sathi Osha is observed by Odia mothers in which they would cook different dishes with six different vegetables, do the `puja’ with six types of flowers and welcome the children with six different prescribed plants to keep them safe.’’
All types of common and exotic vegetables needed for this special `puja’ were on sale today near the vegetable market near Lingaraj Temple along with different plants representing the herbs. Visitors also came to know how the Old Bhubaneswar region of the city was keeping its traditions alive along with the monuments.
Banker Sushant BIswal from Sambalpur said “apart from the heritage walk, knowing the traditional practice is also an interesting aspect of this walk. We must document the old traditions so that our future generation would practice them to keep them alive for ages to come.’’
Biswal’s wife Ashoka Manjari Nayak, an educationist said “in the past I had inspired many to take part in the heritage walk of the city. However, while walking along the beautiful monuments I realised that I did made a great mistake coming after 36 walks. I would tell other friends to come and spend their Sunday morning with the visitors of Ekamra Walks.’’
Supplementing the heritage aspect and keeping it live for centuries in the Ekamra Kshetra (old name of old Bhubaneswar) assistant conservator of forests and in-charge of Ekamra Van, Ashok Mishra said “as the Ekamra Kshetra is also known as Hari Hara Kshetra, here in all major temples of Lord Shiva, Tulsi is being used as an offering along with leaves of stone apple (Bela). However, in practice leaves of stone apple is exclusively used for Shiva worship while Tulsi is used for Lord Vishnu.’’
Interestingly, IIT Bhubaneswar students have been continuously arriving at Ekamra Walks and exploring monuments while knowing the basics of the unique temple building traditions of Kalinga, the ancient name for modern Odisha. After making near centuries in attendance during 34th and 35th Ekamra Walks, today at 37th walk they came with 50 students. Pranab Narang, a first year B.Tech student, original resident of Bokaro Steel City in Jharkhand, said “today;s heritage walk really taught me many things on the different temple architecture of the region and how many are so well conserved though they were built way back in 7th Century.’’
Nidharshini, also B.Tech first year student of IIT-BBS, who is originally from Telangana, said “the heritage walk is informative an educative venture with influencing power for young students like us to explore more on the conservation aspect in future. I fully enjoyed my time during the walk.’’
U. Hariksrihna, a B.Tech first year student from Andhra Pradesh said “historically many regions in this part of the world were governed by rulers, who created many world class structures and we have to keep them intact for the visitors across the globe.’’
Ekamra Walks, the only guided heritage walk of the city has made the Old Town area popular across the globe through social and other media tools as weeks after weeks people from all corners are coming and exploring the poems written on stones in the ancient monuments and the visitors are getting unique experiences during their visits each time.
Taranisen Pattnaik, a regular at Ekamra Walks, said “Even after coming week after week and listening to the guides and discussions among the visitors, I discover new things following each walk. I hope we need to frequent more to the heritage walk to unearth more mysteries from the monuments as they are store houses of many tales, still alive on the speechless stone marvels.’’