Bantala: It is the holy month of Shravan. Thousands of Kanwariyas undertake the Kanwar Yatra, an annual pilgrimage devoted to Lord Shiva.
Clad in saffron, lakhs of devotees from across the country embark on the journey, a pole slung across their shoulders, water pitchers hanging from both its ends.
The Kanwariyas undertake the journey on foot. The pilgrimage, which usually takes place in July-August ahead of Sawan Shivaratri, culminates with the Kanwariyas taking a dip in the Ganges and taking some of its holy water back home with them.
However, the Kanwariyas have been in the news for all wrong reasons. While there have been reports of the Kanwariyas attacking commuters, they are also accused of getting drunk during their journey and causing nuisance.
Recently, five Kanwariyas were killed after being hit by a train while many have drowned due to carelessness while collecting water.
While the real meaning of the annual journey is to show ‘devotion’ to Lord Shiva, the Kanwariyas’ long sanctimonious walk has dissipated into a journey of misdeeds, violence, hooliganism and drinking over the years.
Keeping this in mind, five Kanwariyas of Paradip Bhutamundai village in Jagatsinghpur have embarked on a journey to spread the message of real ‘devotion’ for Lord Shiva and avoid getting waylaid during the journey.
Pintu Sahu, Nakara Patra, Manas Rana, Kanha Sahu and Babuli Sahu, who started the journey last Thursday evening have by now travelled 450-km from Paradip to Sambalpur in a week, spreading their message.
The five started their journey by collecting holy water from Mahanadi in Paradip. After staying the night at Rahama, they started their journey again to Raghunathpur Friday and Chowdwar in Cuttack district Saturday.
Later, they travelled to Athgarh Sunday. They travelled to Bhapur Monday covering Mahidharpur, Bantala, Badakera, Jarapada by Wednesday. They then set off to Sambalpur Thursday.
During their journey, they spread the message to stay away from drinks, ganja and other things which they termed as ‘evil’ that waylaid the Kanwariyas.