The biennial Badajatara festival of Malkangiri district ended coinciding with the festivities of Holi.
The fear of Maoist violence in this naxalite-infested district could not deter the festivities. Devotees from parts of south Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh attended the festival.
The unique tribal festival also marks cultural relations between Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. The festival had its ritual beginning with the arrival of deities Balraj, Kanamraj, Potraj and goddess Mutyalamma at the Kanyamajhibandha. These are the traditional deities of Kondh, Paraja, Koya, Bonda, Bhumia, and Gadava tribals that live in Malkangiri district. The deities are brought to Malkangiri with much fanfare in colourful processions from their traditional place of worship. It may be noted that the idol of Mutyalamma is brought in procession from Manyamkonda in Andhra Pradesh at a distance of around 70 km from Malkangiri town.
These deities passed through areas like Gubleru, Kalimela, Kangurkonda, Poteru Sikapali, and Tamasa to reach Malkangiri town. At every place the deities were worshipped by the tribal people as per traditional fervour. The deities stayed for four days at Malkangiri town for the festivities. Return of the deities to their original temples marked the end of the festival.
Usually animal sacrifice is attached to this tribal festival. But during recent years, the administration has started to intervene to stop animal sacrifice. A major awareness campaign was taken up by the Malkangiri district administration this year against animal sacrifice.
Restrictions on animal sacrifice were imposed at the site of the festival in Malkangiri town. It may be noted that High Court had directed the government and administrations to put curbs on animal sacrifice in the State. Owing to it animal sacrifice during the festival had come down but it was not stopped completely.
No animals were allowed to be killed within a radius of 50 meters around the temporary abode of the deities. According to localites, some persons, especially the tribal people, who are yet to accept the restrictions on animal sacrifice preferred to have their ritualistic killings at a spot away from the temporary abode of deities.