Ekamra Walks visitors witness Mahalaya rituals besides hoping monuments

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Bhubaneswar: Besides learning the temple building architecture and Kalingan style of temple making, Ekamra Walks, the weekend guided heritage walk of the city has also becoming an interactive knowledge gathering interface on Odia traditions and culture. Today 50 participants of the heritage walk, thus, got to know about traditions behind Mahalaya, the fortnight-long offering for our forefathers, as per Odia traditions.

Since September 5 the 15-day fortnight is being observed, but the coming Tuesday or September 19 will be the most important day and there will be more rush. However, even now the entire Old Town area is dotted with travelers and mostly budget tourists on pilgrimage for Mahalaya as the Ekamra Kshetra (old name of Bhubaneswar) is one of the most important Eastern abode of Lord Shiva Parvati.

Tour guide Satyaswarup Mishra, while explaining the age-old tradition, said “as per the legend, the death anniversary of a forefather is considered as the dinner time and the Mahalaya fortnight is considered as the lunch time in the heaven as per our beliefs. So this is very important in Hindu calendar and the pilgrims are also here to remember their forefathers in Old Bhubaneswar.’’

The heritage walkers today encountered hundreds of people gathering along the banks of Bindusagar to offer “Shradh’’ for their forefathers. The priests were administering “slokas’’ or holy texts and guiding the rituals in the traditional way. The entire Old Bhubaneswar area was looking crowded, especially around the Bindusagar and the umbrellas of the priests tenting along the banks of the holy water body were creating a beautiful sight for the visitors to capture through their lenses.

Lauren Hafford, from Colorado USA, who is on a Fulbright Fellowship to work in the social service organization Gram Vikash to plan and study rural sanitation in Odisha, was very happy to discover the beautiful tradition, people’s love for their culture and the beautiful monuments of the Old City of Bhubaneswar, which is the epitome of the Kalingan temple building style and architecture.

“This is my first visit to Odisha, but I love the city Bhubaneswar as it has a wonderful collage of rich tradition blended with the emerging urban culture with a perfect blend and mix. It is really an enriching experience to come to Ekamra Walks today. I would be happy to come to more such walks on coming days as I am likely to be in Odisha till May next year,’’ Lauren added.

Vikash Seth, from Cuttack, who came to the walk with his little daughter Diya, said “though this is my first visit to Ekamra Walks, it was wonderful and I would definitely tell my friends to join and have this lovely experience. It is really a magical experience gathering inside the Ekamra Van, the medicinal plant garden along the western coast of Bindusagar lake.’’

Well-known conservation expert from Ahmedabad and co-founder of Virasaat-E-Hind Foundation, Jitu Mishra, who was part of the 40th Ekamra Walks today, said “each time a walker discovers a new thing here at the Old Town area. The experience is nice and enriching.’’

Visitors today covered Mukteswar, Parsurameswar, Swarnajaleswar, Kotitirtheswar, Ananta Vasudev, Lingaraj, Chitrakarini, Sari, Mohini and Vaitaal temples and Bindusagar, Old Dharmashala and Ekamra Vaan medicinal plant garden during the walk.

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