Bhubaneswar, June 22 (Odisha.in) This year in June as the monsoon rains drenched the summer baked lands of Odisha, the occasion of Raja – an agrarian rural festival that celebrates the power of fertility (of Mother Earth and young women) – stood witness to a unique social experiment at Kalyanapur, a small village in the outskirts of Bhubaneswar in Odisha.
The three-day festival, that lasted from June 14 to 16 at Swasthi Bana in the village brought together old and new minds to create an atmosphere of exploring collaboration and co-creation beyond just the fun and frolic of Raja festival.
Apart from the colorful rope swings, traditional delicacies, the famous Raja paan and the rural competitions to mark the occasion, the event stood apart for breaking new ground in introducing many novel experiences to the guests and visitors that thronged the place over the period of three days.
The organizers built an atmosphere of culture meeting technical innovation and intellectual energy. The festival was organised by Kalyanpur Village Committee, in collaboration with JanwaarCastle Community Organisation (JCCO), Centre for Marketing in Emerging Economies (CMEE) at IIM-L, Rotary Club of Infocity (Bhubaneswar), I am Art.ist, and Parichay Foundation.
Diverse “Experience Zones”were created where people and experts from all walks of life came to teach and learn from each other.
These ideas varied from things such as “Knowledge Zone” where the array of LCD TVs were installed deep inside woods so that kids and adults could listen to broadcasts through headphones, to the “Science Zone” where devices for both monitoring and purifying air quality were displayed.
There were alternate therapies on offer by acupressure experts and even “Makeover Zones” where girls could learn a thing or two about self-grooming and hygiene. An “Anger Management Zone” was also built to teach a thing or two about keeping one’s composure in times of provocation.
While competitions in rural sports for both young boys and girls were organised, an array of activities around Art and Craft were also arranged. The grownups and kids were especially enamored by the pottery workshop held by the local villagers at the spot.
The plethora of choices for the crowd spanned from chewing the famous Raja paan (betel leaf and nut) and munching on poda-pithas (special-burnt cakes made for the occasion) to going around to the “Ideas Sharing Zone” where the guests, invitees and normal villagers indulged in an intellectual discussion to create a repository of ideas towards sustainable development of the locality, for example, eco-friendly methods of celebrating such festive occasions, etc.
The celebration of Raja became eventually an interesting melting pot of new-age ideas – a workshop of co-creation where multi-disciplinary stakeholders joined hands to create something unique and new. All with a single aim of establishing methods and practices to build solutions around the real-life problems.
The stakeholders who walked in to participate in such a social set up were from all walks of life – Politics, Journalism, Arts and Literature, Social Work, Professionals and especially, the habitants of Kalyanapur village .
The lush green plantations of Swasthi Bana, the venue for the festival, was itself an epitome of man’s resolve to sustain and thrive despite heavy odds – it is a forest created by the very hands of the natives of Kalyanapur after the river banks were devastated post the super cyclone of 1999 in Odisha.
In June every year, the young and old in the locality join hands and hearts to build the festival of Raja for their own people and for visitors coming from afar.
From putting up food stalls to tying up the rope swings amid trees, co-creative energy reverberates through the woods of Swasthi Bana unseen in such rural ambience nowadays.
The next step involves utilizing on this creative energy to build solutions for sustainability of the village. The solutions will be for problems recognized in UN Sustainable Development goals.
To achieve this, a co-creation workshop will be held in Kalyanpur on June 24, where villagers, the Village Committee, and other stakeholders will chart out the action plan for the sustainable future of the village.
The festivities of Raja is over for the year and the swings have been untied but a new future for Kalyanpur is on the dawn. A future that will be built by local stakeholders with collaboration and co-creation.