Friday, September 07, 2007

Voyage to Bali

To be woken up before dawn and then made to trudge to the river 2kms away in an winter morning every year, first, to take a dip in the cold water and then sail a well-decorated toy-boat made of plantain tree sheaths, was perhaps the most significant internationalist idea that one lived through like all children in Orissa. The whole crowd of boats was supposed to leave for Bali amidst chanting of “Aa-Ka-Ma-Bhai, Pana-Gua-Thoi."

To visit and move about in Balijatra, the annual fair held in front of the erstwhile Barabati Fort at Cuttack was a persistent yearning, the maritime prowess that the ancestors possessed being a salutary sentiment alongside. The popular Khudurukuni puja with its tear-jerker tale of Ta’poi, held on four consecutive Sundays of the subsequent month, kept the memory of her brothers, who had sailed abroad, always alive. Not to mention, the classic, “Baliraja” by the great novelist, Kanhu Charan Mohanty depicting the exploits of the maritime traders and sea-pirates, an unforgettable thriller.

The six-day Indo-US joint naval exercise along with Australia, Japan and Singapore dubbed Malabar 07, is on in the Bay of Bengal while a protest march by the Left parties is underway in Orissa. “Voyage to Bali” is still a far-off dream bordering on the mythical, but the ideal of human unity is aflame in our hearts and formation of the World Union indeed seems a distinct possibility today. [TNM]

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