Kendrapara: The famous Olasuni mela, kicked off at Olasuni cave near Panchupandav, 25-km from here Monday, amid religious fervour to commemorate the 185th Mahasamadhi Divas of Saint Arakhita Das. The nine-day fair will conclude January 30.
The first day of the annual Olasuni mela was attended by over 35,000 devotees who offered ‘bhog’ and took prasad, said Mahant Namanada Dash of the Olasuni cave shrine.
“Saint Arakhita Das founded the temple atop Olasuni hillock in 1883 amid dense forests. It is surrounded by green hills that attracted Baba Arikhita Dash to choose the place as his base for penance,” said Mahant Namananda.
The locals believe that a potion prepared at the cave shrine has curative powers. People suffering from stomach ailments may be cured if they consume the drink, known as ‘Kanjipani’ in local parlance.
As per local tradition, fruits and vegetarian food are offered as ‘bhog’ before the deities at the cave shrine. Interestingly, devotees are at liberty to offer fish as part of ‘Samarpana Bhog’ at the tomb of Saint Arikhita Das on the hillock. It is believed that people’s wishes are granted after offering non-vegetarian food, said Suvendu Singh, a local devotee.
Devotees also offer podapitha along with dry fish at the fair. It is said that the Saint used to offer fish, dry fish and podapeetha as ‘prasad’.
Jajpur district administration has made elaborate police arrangements to maintain law and order at the shrine during the fair, claimed Balichandrapur police station IIC Sukant Kumar Patra.