chandrabhaga fair odisha
DatesStart Date: 03-11-2019 End Date: 05-11-2019
The Chandrabhaga Mela is a very popular festival for the people of Odisha. It is celebrated on the seventh day of the month of Magha and that is why is also called the Magha Saptami Mela. It usually falls in the month of February. Thousands of people gather here to celebrate this important festival and it also attracts a number of tourists. After the very popular Rath Yatra, the Chandrabhag Mela, as it also known among the local people, is the biggest festival in Odisha. People take bath in The ChandrabhagaRiver which has now reduced to a mere pond. Some people move a little farther away to the beach which is just 3 kilometers away and take a bath there. After the Holy bath, they go to the Konark Temple where they pay respects to the Sun God.
The festival also takes its name from the Chandrabhaga River which is considered sacred by the people of Odisha. Legend has it that Samba, the son of Lord Krishna walked in on his parents when they were sharing a moment of private bliss. This angered the Lord and he cursed him to suffer from Leprosy. Narada Muni took pity on the boy as the crime he committed was unintended and not as grave as the punishment he received. Narada asked the boy to go the ChandrabhagaRiver and seek a cure there. He meditated and prayed to the Sun God on the banks of the river and also bathed in the river for 12 long years. The place where he prayed became a sacred spot and it is believed to have curative properties. People go there in the hopes of curing themselves from the ailments that they suffer from. Ever since, this has become a ritual for the people. Thousands of people from all over the country come to Odisha and participate in the Mela.
The celebrations begin as early as dawn. People gather near the river for an early bath and follow it by paying their respects and offerings to Sun God. They welcome the rising sun with prayers and hymns. The thakurs, that is what the priests are called, are also present at the banks of the river and pray along with the people. They then move to Konark Temple to pray to the Sun God. The Konark temple is one of the most important temples in Odisha. The temple is dedicated to Sun God. The temple is in ruins now and the cause of the destruction remains a mystery still. Despite being a ruin, it attracts a huge number of people and has been declared a world heritage site. The temple is an important pilgrimage site for a majority of the Hindus who gather here in large numbers for the Chandrabhaga Mela.
The Chandrabhaga Mela begins with prayers but is also an assembly of myriad colors like all Indian fairs and festivals. There are small scale vendors that put up a variety of stalls. The stalls range from little toys that attract little children and to religious amulets that attract the grownups. The smell of the local food is sure to tease the nostrils of the travelers and pull them towards the stalls. To quench the thirst, they could drink tendercoconut water, which is very sweet in this region. However, the people do not remain devoid of entertainment as there are troops performing Jatra, a form of folk theater popular in Bengal and also some parts of Odisha.
Many people return to their homes after the Darshan (the worship). The celebrations go on for the day at the Thakur Bari (the home of the priest). Those who stay back gather at the beach at the nights for another round of prayers which is done for the welfare of one’s family. The Pandas (priests) gather on the beach and draw an outline of the Jagannath temple on the sand and place mounds of wet sand, each mound representing a family. The pandas perform the Puja by chanting mantras and the members of the family are supposed to repeat after them.
The small-scalebusinesses are in a state of mirth and wait eagerly for this gathering of thousands of pilgrims. Any fair is incomplete without the goods and foods being sold at the small kiosks. One can see staff of small restaurants coming out and shouting for the people to come and try their food. There are often too many at one place and it becomes a more of a competition for the restaurants and confusion for the travelers. The people need food after the tiring processes of the Holy Bath and prayer in the Konark Temple and these restaurants come to them as sigh of relief.
The crowd management for this fair needs to be given a special attention because it is a mammoth of a task to manage thousands of pilgrims who have gathered in a place to participateand also the tourists and travelers who have come to witness it. The local authorities play a very important part in the successful organization andmanagement of the fair. The traffic is managed in an efficient way so that it does not cause people a great deal of discomfort.
The festival brings a flurry of discounts for the tourists and travelers. People can avail heavy discounts for their bookings at hotels for the Chandrabhaga Mela. The heavy discounts play a part in attracting a heavy number of tourists too. The hotels are all packed up for the festival and therefore if one wishes to witness the Mela, the bookings have to be made well in advance. The shopping malls also benefit from the huge number of people that gather for the festival. One can always wander off to malls and local markets for a quick shopping spree between rituals and worship. Sipping tender coconut while they shop for local stuff can be a total bliss. The discounts begin a few days in advance which enable the people to shop freely to their heart’s content. Many people believe that they need to wear new clothes for the festival and they go gaga over discounts.
The Chandrabhaga Mela stands as a symbol for the belief and faith of the people on the Almighty. The legend of Samba may or may not be true but still people do not question the curative properties of the place even once. They come there in the hope that their problems would vanish too after their holy bath and prayers just like Samba’s did. It is overwhelming to see people coming from different wakes of life but carrying the same beliefs in the folds of their hearts.
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