Berhampur, July 17 (LocalWire): Hundreds of people thronged to attend the Kandhei Jatra, a unique toy festival held here on Tuesday evening, where the doll sellers display a variety of toys made of cow dung and wood powder.
However, there were not many takers of the traditional toys that are sold only once in a year during Ashadha Purnima, the full moon day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashadha.
“Very few people prefer to buy these dolls now,” said Sarat Mohapatra of Ainabandha Street, here. Mahapatra along with his family members toiled hard for about a month to make various types of dolls for the festival.
“My forefathers use to make these dolls for the festival and we have followed the tradition,” he said.
“Who will buy our dolls, when colorful dolls at an affordable price are available in the market,” said the 75-year-old Kanaka of Old Berhampur. She, however, had come to the festival to display her craft, gods and goddess, animals and birds made using the cow dung in the festival.
Kanaka has been selling these handmade dolls every year in the Kandhei Jatra since her childhood.
“Making and selling of toys at this festival is our tradition and I come here every year at this old age just to keep alive the tradition,” she said.
Varieties of toys, from the traditional cow-dung ones to those made of plastic and China made electronic goods were available at the festival, where over 500 makeshift toy shops were installed from Khaspa Street till Bada Bazar area.
The festival started from the evening and continued till midnight.
Although the festival has been observed for over 250 years now, there is no historical evidence of its origin.
“We have no idea about the origin of the festival, but it is held every year with the return of Lord Jagannath to his abode after the Rath Yatra,” said a priest of the Jagannath temple.
On the night, Lord Jagannath at Khaspa Street is made pattavishekha (installation of legs and hands) and the doors of the temple are kept open throughout the night for the devotees, explained another priest.
While traditionally the doors of other temples in the area, including the famous Budhi Thakurani, are also kept open on this night, they had to be closed this year due to the partial lunar eclipse.