Lack of rain dampens festival spirit in Orissa

June 15th, 2009 - 3:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, June 15 (IANS) The delay in the arrival of rain has dampened the spirit of an annual agricultural festival in Orissa with the celebration remaining low key in many places.
The three day Raja festival, beginning on the first day of the Hindu month of Asadha, marks the beginning of the rainy season and new agricultural year. This year, the festival began Sunday.

Celebrations are marked by buying new dresses for family members, decorating houses, and eating specially prepared cakes and rich foods, with relatives and friends exchanging sweets.

However, this year, there is no rain and no sign of monsoon’s revival. “We are not celebrating the festival in a big way,” Raghunath Mohapatra, a farmer in the state’s Sambalpur district told IANS.

According to official statistics, more than 62 percent of the cropped areas in Orissa is rain fed. The primary crops that depend on rain are paddy, oil seeds, pulses, millets, and cotton.

“All the crops are going to be affected because there is no rain,” Jagdish Pradhan, convenor of farmer body - the Paschim Orissa Krishijibi Sangha (POKS) - told IANS.

“The meteorological office predicted early monsoon and believing them, farmers, especially in western part of the state, went in for early sowing of Kharif crops,” he said.

“There was some rainfall in the last week of May and thereafter a long dry spell which has already caused damage to the seedlings,” he said, adding that the farmers are going to suffer huge losses.

The situation is likely to become worse as the meteorological centre predicts that the monsoon may only resume after June 20, Pradhan said.

A senior official of the state agriculture department said the government is keeping a close watch on the situation and taking steps to supply seeds to the affected farmers.

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