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Odisha Cultural Updates – Saahi Jaata – A Trance of Transcendental State of #Puri #Odisha #Culture #Travel Article helped by Amrita Sabat & harekrsna.com

         Saahhi Jaata ,: Saahi means locality. Jaata means Yatra or Festival. Saahi Jaata (ସାହି ଯାତ) is believed to have begun in 12th/13th century in Puri, Odisha. ‘Durga Medha’ (ଦୁର୍ଗା ମେଢ) was shown in the Lokanritya and Lokabadya Utsav [State Level Folk Dances and Music Festival] held on 25 Feb, 2015 at Bhanja Kala Mandap, Bhubaneswar. During Dussehra Festival, dance on this theme is generally done in Saahi Jaata– the Raam Lila of Odisha.

sahijaat - Folk Theatre or Sahi Jata - eodisha.org -Sahijaat Starts, Puri in a Trance of Transcendental State

Puri is under the spell of the annual grand spring carnival, a community festival named Saahi jaata. The ambience reeks of spiritual ecstasy and the town’s streets resemble that of a battleground. All devotees should have a visit to the temple town and witness this mega religious festival Saahi jaata, which kicked off on the eve of Ram Navami

Young and amateur actors don the masks of deities, demons, super-sized birds and horses and entertain people by walking down the streets, gushing with strength and satire. The festival celebrates the birth of Lord Rama. As He is considered one of the 10 incarnations of Lord Jagannath on earth, the entire sequence of Ram’s birth till His coronation is staged as a marathon street drama.

saahi jaata - Folk Theatre or Sahi Jata - eodisha.org -

The celebration begins on Ram Navami day, which falls on the ninth day after the spring full moon and culminates with the defeat of Parasuram and the coronation of Lord Rama.Sahijaat’s origin is traced to the 12th century with the emergence of Ramanujacharya, who widely preached the cult of Rama.

There exist seven very old Sahis (streets) in the holy town. These Sahis have permanent jagagharas (gymnasiums). The presiding deity is Goddess Durga or Lord Hanuman. There is a distinct insignia and flag to distinguish each sahi. The youths practice wrestling, intricacies of war dances, wielding sword and sticks and other weapon. These Sahis once defended the temple of Lord Jagannath. That is why, during Sahijaat, the traditional weapons are taken out. These musclemen or wrestlers get an opportunity to display their strength and skill during the festival. It also boosts their morale and breaks the monotony of rigorous practice of traditional defense techniques.

During Sahijaat, the local amateur actors enact the roles dressed in elaborate costumes. They go in a grand procession on the main street accompanied by caparisoned elephants, horses, flag bearers, barbers holding torches of flames swinging to the inspiring and rhythmic music of drummers and a band of musicians playing clarinets, trumpets and conch shells.

Each street is assigned a different episode to enact, and the story moves from street to street beginning with the birth of Lord Rama, his killing of demons, the episode when Laxman slashes the nose of demon Surpanakha, Maricha fooling Rama and Laxman in the guise of a golden deer, the capture of Sita by Ravana, the battle between Parasuram and Lord Rama, and finally the war between Rama and Ravana ending with Rama’s coronation.

The star attractions in the Yatra are the characters of the Rama, Ravana, Parsuram, Hanuman, Sugrib, and Angad. Residents of Harachandi Sahi, Baseli Sahi, Markandeswara Sahi, Dolomandapa Sahi Kandheibenta Sahi, Matimandapa Sahi, Bali Sahi and Gaudabada Sahi take the responsibility for conducting the grand event.

Next to the ceremonial Ratha Yatra of Lord Jagannath, Sahijaat is the most popular and spectacular event in Puri. The glittering festival, however, is run with the meager contributions from the local people.

Watch how Goddess Durga charms all by dominating the stage! She dances wearing heavy mask and costume of many kgs, to the tune of beating drums, local trumpet, shouts and shower of flowers on-stage!