Devi Mandai, An attempt to showcase the entire gamut of Bastar Tribal Culture before the world

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October 18: Bastar, an abode of rich tribal culture and phenomenally beautiful natural wonders, certainly has some unique perks if we visit during October, around Navratri, because that is the time when the world-famous Bastar Dussehra takes place every year. Bastar Dussehra is a versatile festival, and one should do a Dussehra tour of Bastar to have an insight into the culture of Bastar region.  A celebration of awe and reverence making Bastar a confluence of man and God; a festival that is celebrated for 75 days, where even gods are believed to come to take part. Bastar Dussehra is undoubtedly the best chance to photograph tribal customs, attire and to know about the simplicity and uniqueness of tribal living. Bastar Dussehra, beyond doubt, is one of the most enthralling festivals of India, especially due to its tribal aspect and occult rituals. Colourful streets of Jagdalpur all decked to celebrate the festival of their guardian Goddess Maa Danteshwari. Unlike every year, Bastar Dussehra 2021 is being celebrated in a comparatively simple manner in view of the worldwide sudden catastrophic ramification caused due to the spread of CoronaVirus. However, all the traditional rituals are being carried out with full devotion and fervour, but with adherence to strict Social Distancing standards for the prevention of covid infection.

One must visit Bastar during this period to get mesmerised by the tribal festivities. Bamboo artwork articles, jute made collectables, bell metal art, forest-based unique items like frankincense, medicinal plants, scrambled ants (Chiti ki chatni) and many more astounding things. Therefore in order to take all these lesser-known unique experiences to the world, Chhattisgarh State Government, along with Bastar District Administration, came up with a unique initiative of “Devi Madhai ” (fair of the Goddess).

Madhai is a traditional concept of a community village fair that is widely prevalent far and wide of Chhattisgarh’s culture. It is usually a small scale local village fair organised on various occasions every year. However, this year’s devi mandai was one of its kind madhai fair, which was organised for the first time during Bastar Dussehra and was completely themed upon tribal life and culture.

Bastar’s devi Madhai was successfully organised on the evening of 13th  October in Jagdalpur in front of the Danteshwari temple.

This madhai fair had 3 made pandals, each showcasing different goods and unique products and delicacies related to various aspects of the tribal culture of Bastar. Among these, one pandal showcased Folk songs of Bastar, the second one had tribal folk dance and one for the depiction of folklore and legends, respectively. Apart from these, the main attraction of Devi Madhai was the stalls with Bastaria handicrafts like various products including bell metal crafts, ferrous alloy crafts, clay crafts, bamboo crafts, sisal crafts, woodenware and many more collectables and souvenirs were displayed in these pandals for those individuals who want to take a little part of Bastar along with them to their homes.

Special arrangements regarding security, traffic and parking, crowd management and social distancing were made so that the people who visited this fest may enjoy it properly without any hassle and apprehension of corona infection. Arrangements of attractive lighting and CCTV Cameras were also installed for security purposes. District Collector Rajat Bansal personally administered the arrangements on a prior basis and also supervised the event thoroughly in order to ensure its successful organisation.

“With so much of awesomeness around, I was kind of mesmerised and was repeatedly clicking the snaps from my camera, to show my friends in Delhi about the fun I had in Bastar Dussehra and Devi Madhai, said Suyash Pande, a lawyer from Delhi who visited Bastar Dussehra for the first time.

Food stalls to quench the thirst and hunger of the tourists were also a massive attraction, especially among the outsiders, which were serving a wide range of local and indigenous bastaria cuisine.

Collector Rajat Bansal said that Bastar Dussehra of Chhattisgarh, which is celebrated for a span of 75 days, is a major centre of attraction in the whole world, especially for those who are connoisseurs of tribal art and culture. Tourists visiting Bastar Dussehra not only could get acquainted with the rituals of Dussehra, but also we started Devi Madai so that all the tourists coming to Bastar can join the Bastar’s people through this Devi Madai and become a part of the traditional festival of the entire Bastar in a short time and cherish the experience of the culture and tradition of Bastar.

With the 75 days, long Bastar Dussehra progressing towards its conclusion, this unique initiative of Devi Madhai shall leave an everlasting impression of enjoyment, awe and reverence of devotion, togetherness, festivities and colourful culture of Bastar in the minds of the visitors. In a short while, of one day this Devi madhai has depicted the entire life and dwelling of Bastar and its inseparable part of tribal culture and living, and the sounds of glee and festivities this 75-day long festival is about to get finished with again in absolute serenity with its dwellers receding back to havens.

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