Even the poor who do not have the money to hire attires and get their body painted to become characters of mythology are using cheap means to enjoy the carnival spirit of famous biennial Thakurani Jatra festival continuing in the city.
The poor are getting themselves painted as ‘Chhod Gajia’ for which they need little investment. It may be noted that this festival of Berhampur has a unique tradition. During this festival, people ranging from small children to people of advanced age take up attire of characters from the pages of mythologies and roam around the city.
During this festival, hundreds donning roles of Krishna, Rama, Parshuram, Radha, demons, Bhim, Arjun, Sages, and Hanuman etc. seek alms from friends and relatives.
The money collected is offered to goddess Budhi Thakurani. This tradition continues as homage to this reigning deity of the city.
But to get dressed up and painted as a character of mythology one has to pay up the body painters and dress providers who open up units called ‘chitralaya’. For the poor most of time it is out of reach.
They also have their own way to become part of the ‘fancy dress’ carnival spirit of devotees who can afford to get dressed as mythological characters.
They get their bodies painted in black shoot and call themselves as ‘Chhod Gajia’. Even children get themselves coloured up for it. They wear worn out clothes and body painted black from head to toe gives a crude horrifying look during night. Some of them also tie up leaves, twigs and grass to their body and limbs as decorative pieces.
To the beats of drums, they dance like tribals. Only difference is that they do not beg for alms but try to force people to pay them anything which may be small change also.
They dare the summer sun even during noon and move around the city. On the last day of the festival, many persons from well to do families also don the garb of ‘Chhod Gajia’ as a homage to the mother goddess. Many feel this tradition may be related to tribals who may be coming to the city in the past.