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Odisha Jatra Artist, Rani Priyadarshini

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All eyes are now on Khandagiri mela and jatra, which will be held after two years of Covid-19 absence. However, a major controversy erupted after the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) warned jatra groups not to perform vulgar dance performances at the event.

While the jatra organizers and committees have welcomed such a move, jatra artist Rani Priyadarshini has raised questions about the logic behind such restrictions by stating that if Bollywood actress Disha Patani’s dance performance can be ‘accepted’ then why not those theirs.

It is pertinent to mention here that alleged vulgar dance performances by various jatra groups during the Khandagiri jatra have sparked controversy in the past.

Actress Rani Priyadarshini claims to be biased and said Bollywood actress Disha Patani was allowed to perform in front of thousands of spectators at the recently concluded inaugural ceremony of the FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup. Rani wondered, “Why are restrictions imposed on the performance of Odisha artists. There are many artists who make a living by performing dance performances and because of such bias; attempts are being made to deprive them of their livelihood.”

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“I don’t know why our item dance is treated as vulgar when millions of rupees were spent and a Bollywood artist performed a similar item dance in front of thousands of spectators at an international event in a stadium,” said Rani.

Not only Khandagiri jatra, the members of the jatra committee have demanded an immediate halt to the vulgar dance performances across the state.

“Be it orchestra or any other jatra, such restrictions and guidelines should apply to all programs in Odisha,” said actor Bapi Panda.

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The BMC has categorically asked organizers and companies to ensure that no performance or dance is allowed that could harm religious sentiments. The civic body has asked jatra committees for written consent to adhere to the standards.

In addition, existing Covid protocols will be strictly enforced during the Khandagiri mela and jatra, including the installation of sanitizer dispensers and other regular measures to maintain overall sanitation near the jatra site.

In addition, the committee has been asked to ensure that all necessary documents and approvals from fire department, electrical department are obtained and that standards regarding decibel limits are strictly adhered to.

“Because the event is organized in the Twin City, the municipality has come up with certain restrictions. We have made a commitment not to promote vulgarity,” says Satya Jena, owner of a jatra group.

Chaturbhuja Majhi, president of Sanatan Seva Samiti (Ghatikia) said, “Since Khandagiri jatra has gained a bad reputation, we will try to make some changes. We have assured the administration to abide by the restrictions and the license of the pandals will be revoked if there are any violations.”

(Reported by Niranjan Reddy and Bibartan Panda)

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