Balasore: They are making every effort not to let the Covid-19 pandemic affect their unique tradition of ‘Jau Kandhei Bahaghar’ which is a ceremonial wedding between lacquer idols. They are proud that the tradition still exists. So the members of ‘Jau Kandhei Bahaghar Utsav Committee’ in Balasore district have already started preparing for the event with strict adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.
An amalgamation of folk art, culture and tradition is found in the wedding celebrations and hence it is a unique annual event. However, last year due to the Covid-19 outbreak, celebrations were muted. This year also it will not be any different. The idol-making process for the celebration starts from Ram Navami.
“As per tradition, the bride and groom were christened on the occasion of ‘Dola Purnima’. They were named ‘Samalei’ and “Shambhunath’, after deities of Western Odisha. The idol making started on Ram Navami. ‘Lagnadhara’ ritual will be held on Chandan Purnima which falls May 26, and the wedding will be solemnised June 6. Thereafter, the villagers will participate in a feast,” informed committee convener Keshu Das.
“It is not just a festival which is celebrated without cause and just for fun. The aim of conducting the marriage ceremony is to keep alive a tradition which is on the verge of extinct. It is believed that a pair of lacquer idols in bedrooms brings conjugal happiness. So a bride’s family always gifts a pair of idols to the newly-weds,” he added.
The revival of this tradition of giving lacquer idols to newly-weds will also help artisans, Das said. They will be able to make out a living by selling such idols, he pointed out.
Now the idol making is underway at Dubalagarh near Remuna Square on the outskirts of Balasore town. The clay and water has been collected from Triveni Ghat, the confluence of Budha Balang, Gangahar and Sona rivers, on Ram Navami. Master craftswoman Kanakalata Das and her team are busy giving shape to the idols.
The committee is also organising a month-long training camp to teach interested persons the art of building lacquer idols at Dubulagarh area in Koshamba Nagar locality.