A Voyage to Elsewhere

By Shri Dipak Samantarai

Today is Kartika Purnima. An auspicious day in the Hindu calendar. It’s also the day on which Guru Nanak Dev was born.
In the wee hours of the night/morning women of our state, especially the married ones, go to the nearest water holes and sail paper boats with lamps lit on them. This is a symbolic ritual that reminds of a real act, seeing off of Sadhabapua setting sail to distant lands for trade and cultural exchanges.

Some otherwise informed intellectuals question the veracity of this connect. It’s true that the Odia sailors have not ensured that their stories be made available to the future generations in the shape of inscriptions as the kings and rulers have done. But a closer analysis of the comparative cultures of Odisha with our ‘supposed’ trade partners tells a different tale. The maritime history of Kalinga sailors lies littered in the islands of Indonesia, Malaysia, and Cambodia. The celebration of popular festivals of a similar nature reinforces it.

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