Raksha Bandhan was celebrated across the state on Wednesday with sisters tying colourful threads on the wrists of their brothers.
Non-Odias residents, including the Governor, however, will be celebrating the festival on Thursday like the rest of India.
Long queues were seen before sweet and gift shops. Everyone was seen making last-minute purchases. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik greeted the people of the state. Some schoolchildren from the capital tied rakhis on his wrist at his residence.
Volunteers of Prerana, an organisation promoting plantation, tied rakhis on trees to create awareness about conservation. “Let each one of us take a pledge on this occasion to plant a tree and tie rakhis on them across the state,” said Dillip Srichandan, a nature-lover.
Central Jail Jharpada relaxed its rules for a day and allowed sisters to come and tie rakhis on the wrists of their brothers serving jail terms.
Anita (name changed) said, “When I heard the jail authority was allowing sisters to come and tie rakhis, I could not stop myself. I loved the experience.”
Volunteers also tied rakhis on 53 children of Madhurmayee Adarsh Sikshya Niketan, whose parents are serving life sentences in different jails. “These children are a part of our society and we wish them a bright future,” said Manjari Nath, a volunteer of Marwadi Yuba Mancha.
Students also tied rakhis on the wrists of jawans of the 120 battalion. “Jawans stay from their families, miss festivals… all because they have to guard our country and protect us. So we thought this is a good occasion to show our love for them,” said Rosaline Srichandan, a student.
In Kendrapada, the festival spread cheer of a different kind when Hindu girls tied rakhis on Muslim men whom they accept as their brothers.
“I tied rakhi on the wrist of our neighbour, Mohammad Hassan. We are brother and sister now. I hope the bond of love will last forever,” said Kaveri Das.
Many students of Saraswati Sishu Mandir in Kendrapada tied rakhis on Muslim brothers. Several Muslim families across the district also celebrated rakhi. “I have been tying rakhi on my Hindu brother Ajit Sahoo’s wrist for the past several years,” said Mumtaz, a resident of Pattamundai.
“In fact, I do so even before their sisters get a chance to tie a rakhi,” added Mumtaz with a smile.
Inmates of Baripada Circle Jail got a pleasant surprise when a group of Brahmakumari followers tied rakhis on the wrists of 470 prisoners and offered sweets.
“The festival is all about celebrating the bond of love and affection between brothers and sisters,” said B K Uma, a member.
In Sambalpur, hundreds of women assembled at the Budharaja reserve forest to tied rakhis on trees. They also took a vow to protect the forest. The programme was organized by the activists of the Budharaja Jangal Surakshya Samiti. Students from Ramkalidevi College and Saraswati Sishu Mandir participated in the programme.
Noted environmentalist, Rushi Patra, said, “We have been doing this since 2008 to create awareness.”
Budharaja forest, which covers about 126 hectares, is historically revered as the first independent war against the British was fought here by Veer Surendra Sai.
Over the years, the green cover of the forest got depleted. But thanks to the tireless efforts of the Budharaja Jangal Surakshya Samiti, much of the greenery was restored.
“Now we feel proud of the forest,” said Bidyadhar Dhanuar, a member of the samiti.
“I hope others also fellow this idea of protecting the forest,” said the additional project director of DRDA, Sambalpur, Sukanta Tripathy.