Keeping a centuries-old tradition alive, Puri hosts the festival of Sahi Jata that blends spirituality and performing arts.Here, artists depict different episodes of the Ramayan just around the birthday of Lord Ram, the Ramnavami. As the name of the festival suggests, the 12th century festival is similar to folk theatre or jatra, but with a religious touch. It is enacted by artistes belonging to different bylanes (sahis) of Puri.
The programmes are held every evening with a martial art show being staged, featuring the ancient practice of martial training in Puri. This is followed by the depiction of an episode of the Ramayan.The first day is dedicated to rituals at the Jagannath Ballabha garden of the Puri Jagannath temple that gives an auspicious start to Sahi Jata.The folk theatre begins from Ramnavami, the second day of the festival every year . The entire festival lasts for nine or 10 days. The final episode is performed on an auspicious day in the Hindu almanac.The colourful Sahi Jata is the most awaited festive of the artists.
Enacting different characters of the Ramayan during the Sahi Jata holds special significance to them. According to the artists “It is like a service they offer to the deities through their skills of acting. The artists rehearse a lot to make
it perfect though each of them has been doing this for years.Both local residents and tourists enjoy the cultural fervour of the city during this time of the year.The costumes and the dances as well as the performances are amazing. I love to see the fireworks that are a part of the festival, says an American tourist.
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