Balada Jatra:The unique bullock fest of Bhuban

Bhuban the largest village of Asia well known for youngest martyr BajiRout and the brass metal crafts. It became NAC in 1972 but still the people observe numerous festivals like other villagers. They celebrate DolaMelana,LaxmiPuja,BaliJatra, Dussehra,Sitalasasthi,Kali puja,Ganesh Puja,Hingula Jatra,Jagara Jatra and other festivals. The dussehra festival of Bhuban is unique from others and attracts a lot of outsiders dur to the Balada Jatra (Bullock fest).

During ancient days when the vehicles are not available the bullocks are used for trade business, transport and agricultural purposes. During dussehra the traders, farmers take test and the bullocks are not engaged in any work so it's the right time to offer homage to the bullocks.

The holy bullocks are selected before Mahalaya. They're trained to acquaint with loud music crowd and light. The bullocks are decorated with ornaments, beads, bells and colorful velvet saddles. 
The people put pole on the previous sankranti of Vijayadashami. On the day of Vijayadashami the women worship the pole. No one touches the pole or bullock except those who are associated with the rituals. The bullocks are taken to the GramDevi 'Banijari' and worshipped. The bullocks make rotations around GramDevi and tied in the poles till procession. They're fed and taken with utmost care till procession. On the day of immersion the bullocks are taken for a procession with loud music, crowd and light. The procession covers about 5km and runs the whole night. It starts around 10pm and goes until next day. The procession covers the whole village. A large crowd from nearby district and states gathered to watch this fest.

People said it's too old festival. According to Basudev Behera, President,Bhuban peace committee the Balada Jatra started in the early 1900's. Thorias introduced the festival. First procession made by 4 Bullock's, one from Thorias, one from Kaibartta Samaj and one from Nilakanthapur and another one. Subsequently people of other caste have also started taking in the procession. There was a day when hundreds of bullocks participated in the immersion due to fallen in the no of bullocks the age old festival affected. Some people use bulls instead of bullocks due to unavailability. 

As per discussion with Pramod Kumar Panda the balada jatra of Bhuban may be inspired from some traditional rituals found in south odisha. Where the holy bullock went to the villagers and the villagers worshipped them. The traders from Bhuban during their business may have seen this and started. As every trader comes to home during the dussehra time so they celebrate during this time. 

The old age Balada Jatra shows the love,respect and association of man with animals. 

Nowadays apart from Bhuban,Balada jatra also cerebrated in Ektali (a village few kms away from Bhuban) and some parts of Bhadrak. 

Here are some of the images of  Balada(Bullock) participated in the Balada Jatra. 


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