Ban on Meru Jatra festival 

#GS1 #Culture #Festivals 

  • Odisha’s Ganjam district administration has banned the Meru Jatra festival and congregations related to it at temples on the occasion of Mahavishub Sankranti. 
  • Meru Jatra marks the end of 21-day-long festival of penance named ‘Danda Nata’. Mahavishub Sankranti is also start of the Odia New Year.  
  • On this day, thousands of devotees used to gather at the Tara Tarini hill shrine and other temples. 

Danda Nata or Danda Jatra  

  • Is one of the most important traditional dance festivals organized in different parts of South Odisha and particularly in the Ganjam District, the heartland of ancient Kalinga Empire. 
  • The Danda Nata festival is being held in the month of Chaitra of every year. It is an ancient festival of the Kalinga kingdom and still alive in and around the ancient Kalinga capital Sampa/Samapa i.e modern day Ganjam District.  
  • The Participants of Danda are called Danduas (also known as Bhoktas) and they pray Goddesses Kali and Shiva during 21-day Danda period. 
  • 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. 
  • It is believed that the present day Danda Nata is a part of the ancient Chaitra Yatra festivals being celebrated every year at Taratarini Shakti/Tantra Peetha. 

Folktale of the origin of the word danda 

  • Lord Ganesh was being taught a dance by his father, Lord Shiva. It was a religious dance called Tandava Nritya. In the process of learning the dance, Lord Shiva kicked the stage he was on, and made a sound that sounded like the word "Dan".  
  • Then a piece of brass material broke off the chain Lord Shiva wore around his ankle and fell on a percussion instrument known as Mardala. The brass material hitting the Mardala made a very loud "Da" noise. Those two sounds were put together to form the word Danda. 
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