Report by Malaya Mohaptra, Keonjhar: The biggest festival in Keonjhar District witnessed by 10 million people called Bada Jatra concluded with much fun and fair inspite of bad weather that prevailed during the last week. Lord Sri Baladev Jew, worshipped as the supreme deity of Keonjhar Distrct since last 500 years, was taken on a chariot ride along with His brother Sri Jagannath and Sister Goddess Subhadra to their Mausi Maa’s house on 14th July where they stayed for 8 days.
Although this Ratha Yatra has many similarities in ritual and customs to Puri temple several specialties in the influence of tribal culture has made this Bada Yatra unique. The chariot of Lord Baladev jew is Nandi Ghosha instead of Taladwaja as in puri and this chariot is said to be the biggest and tallest chariot with a height more than 73ft.
The rope used to pull the chariot is made from Siali creeper unlike coir rope used in Puri. Goddess Subhadra is red in color instead of yellow as in Puri. Apart from this there are some special rituals and customs observed in the Keonjhar Ratha Jatra. The Deities returned back on the same chariot called bahuda yatra on 22nd july and appeared before the devotees with their jewelleries and ornaments (Suna Besa) on 23 rd before they entered their temple. The 10 day festival was colorful with varieties of cultural dance and bhajan programs every evening. Free food , water and other sweets distribution was organized by some local organizations. The temple administration and other line departments including the police worked hard to organize the mega festival in a disciplined manner.