17 arrested in Odisha for taking out procession
Seventeen participants of ‘Danda Nata’, a religious festival of penance, were arrested by personnel of the Purushottampur police station in Odisha’s Ganjam district.
They were arrested on Tuesday for taking out religious processions despite the lockdown in Ganjam district due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The arrested persons include ten members of Rajakpunja troupe from Purushosttampur and seven members of the Danda Nata troupe from Jamuni village.
The participants were arrested while taking out a procession to mark the beginnign of the 21-day Danda Nata that ends on Mahavishub Sankranti which falls on April 14.
Ganjam district administration had put a ban on the festival this year due to the virus outbreak. All Danda Nata troupes had been made aware of the dangers of celebrating the festival and were asked to refrain from observing it this year.
Every year, thousands of male devotees leave their homes to lead a nomadic life and join ‘Danda Nata’ troupes for 21 days till April 14. According to sources, there are around 200 Danda Nata troupes in Ganjam district. The smaller troupes have around 100 members, while the larger ones may have more than 1,000 members.
Apart from it, a team of around 30 to 50 persons related to the theatre troupe is attached to each Danda Nata troupe.
District administration had decided to completely stop the celebration as these troupes could have been a major catalyst for the spread of COVID-19 in Ganjam.
The two troupes, whose members were arrested, had also been made aware about a week back of the dangers by the Purishottampur tehsildar, the Block Development Officer and the local police station.