Bhubaneswar: In view of rapid spread of Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) across Odisha, the age-old tradition of Danda Nacha festival has been suspended in rural areas on outskirts of Bhubaneswar this year.
As the lockdown is in force till April 30, the Danda Nacha or dance for penance festival will not be held in the villages including Rangamatia, Gadakan, Chakeisiani, Kalarahang, Patia, Ostapada and Daruthenga, to avoid mass congregation.
With this, the 60-year-old traditional practices performed in Chaitra month of Odia calendar, will be interrupted for the first time due to COVID-19 pandemic.
As per the statement by the rural Danda Jatra committee, ‘Danduas’ who go through painful procedures during the festival for worshiping goddesses will be barred from visiting the venue. The devotees can contribute amounts to the temples to prepare ‘pana’ that will be offered to deities on Maha Bisuba Sankranti. The chief kalisi (said to be a messenger between human and spirit world) will purify himself through yajna and worship the presiding deity of the concerned village.
However, the priests will continue the rituals of deities regularly held at shrines.
The annual religious event at shakti shrines has been suspended in view of public gathering that could help further spread of the deadly virus. This year, the rituals for Danda Jatra will be performed by one or two kalisis maintaining social distancing, said Bhagaban Maharana, Cheif Kalisi of Rangamatia village in Mancheswar.
“It is the sole responsibility of everyone to adhere to rules framed by the government,” said Rohit Samal, Chief Kalisi of Batuasuni Mangala Peeth at Ostapada village in Kalyanpur Panchayat adding, “I shall perform danda puja alone at the shrine. The prasad will be sent to danduas at their homes to avoid unnecessary crowd.”