The Lok Sabha elections in Odisha’s Berhampur has coincided with two big festivals which are (a)the 32-day-long biennial Thakurani Jatra and (b)21-day-long Danda Nata festival.
The Thakurani jatra festival is a biennial festival.During the festival, Goddess Budhi Thakurani is taken from the main temple at Thakurani Temple Street to her temporary abode at Desi Behera Street,where she stays till the festival ends.
According to historians, first Thakurani Yatra was celebrated in April,1779. The hereditary head of the festival is Desi Behera the head of Dera community.Dera is a community of weavers of Berhampur.
Danda Nata is one of the most important traditional dance festivals in the Ganjam District, the heartland of ancient Kalinga Empire.
The Danda Nata festival is held in the month of Chaitra of every year. The Participants of Danda are called Danduas (also known as Bhoktas) and they pray Goddesses Kali and Shiva during this 13,18 or 21-day Danda period.
Danda begins on an auspicious day before the Chaitra Sankranti or Meru Parba with traditional worship and fasting.Only male persons take part in this festival.The participants are known as the Bhoktas.All the Bhoktas or ‘Danduas’ lead a very pious life for all these days during the festival and they avoid eating meat,fish or cohabiting during this period.