‘Fani’ Plays Dampener for Festivals

Festivals in Odisha are enthralling; celebrated with a lot of Pomp and show. People of the state love celebrating the festivals with their near and dear ones. The fairs and festivals of Odisha are so famous that every year thousands of devotees and tourists flock to the state to either participate or witness in these events. But, how does an entire state, where lakhs of people have been affected, manage to gather the courage to celebrate after being hit by one of the ‘rarest of the rare’ storms, devastating eight districts of Odisha? Can a festival be celebrated in darkness – without electricity or even without the basic necessities for some?

Cyclone Fani made its landfall in the Puri district of Odisha on May 3, 2019. Puri needs no introduction; being the abode of Lord Vishnu, it is known by Lord Jagannath. This reminds me of Lord Krishna, dark (black) coloured – on a dark and stormy night. The darkness is symbolic of internal strength – the calmness and serenity that lay underneath. This strength and hope gave the residents of Odisha the strength to begin Chandan Yatra on May 7 that took place in Puri! The deities of Lord Krishna and his forms are decorated with huge amounts of Sandwood paste, covering his entire body in Chandan. It is believed that a paste of sandalwood and camphor when applied on his body, will relieve him of the heat.

Analogous to the sacred aroma of the popular Jagannath Temple, Puri removes the pain from our hearts while we see the devastation all around. This keeps the flickering hope alive that we shall triumph over and be back in contour before the Chariots are ready to be pulled with all the strength of the people on Ratha Yatra day. The process starts with the day of Akshaya Tritiya, marked as utmost relevance in Odisha. The construction of the wooden chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra starts with ‘Ratha Anukula’ in Puri.

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