The Lanka Podi festival gets a special mention in the cultural kaleidoscope of Odisha because of the spectacular grandeur employed in presentation of Ramleela. The festival is an annual event for Daspalla, better known as Mahavir Khetra for housing a temple of Lord Mahavir (signifying Lord Hanuman), the presiding deity of the area.
During the festival days, daily one episode of Ramleela, the great epic of Ramayana, will be performed starting from the birth of Lord Ram. On the last day of the festival, demon Ravana is killed by Lord Rama and the victory of truth over evil is celebrated with colourful fireworks. Special attraction of the Yatra would be the movable 35-feet tall wooden idol of 10-headed Ravana and his Pushpaka Bimana.
A mile long street turns the arena from the temple to the improvised city of Lanka of Ravana. While the performance is done in phases, the acting area expands from place to place in the street where platforms are made for the characters, who reach from the temple in a procession each night. The artistes who participate in the festival observe strict penance. This year, Lanka Podi Yatra will be held on April 30.
According to historians, the Yatra has its origin from the reign of king Trilochan Bhanj in 1802. At first, Ramayan written by Vikram Narendra was being recited before Lord Mahavir followed by dances by artistes wearing wooden masks. It was King Krushna Chandra Bhanj who later added colour to the Yatra in 1805. The organisers of this Yatra are, however, unhappy with the State Government’s attitude towards it. Lanka Podi Yatra Committee secretary Suryamani Das said despite historical evidence of the festival being 200 years old, no steps have yet been initiated by the State Government to promote it. “It is due to contribution of the locals that the festival can be organised,” he added.
Source: New Indian Express