Baripada, Jan 14: Tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district today celebrated the most important harvest festival, ''Mokor'', with much fervour by mixing tradition with development.
The festival is generally observed on the last day of ''Pous'' (mid-January) and coincides with the Hindu festival ''Sankranti''.
''Chuda''(flattened rice) and molasses are offered to ancestors on the occasion. In the Santhali terminology, the festival is known as ''Sakrat''.
The day preceeding Mokor (Sakrat) was observed as ''Baundi'', when the tribals caught fish and crab with the belief that if they can eat them on the day, they will be given a long lease of life, said Sukhlal Hansda, a Santhal headman of Baunsabilla here.
Mouthwatering cakes of meat and sun-dried rice flour are prepared in all households, and after bath, the Santhals eat them with treacle and sesamum.
''Chuda and jaggery are also compulsory items,'' he added.
The tribals rejoice with service of ''Handia'', a home made brew prepared from fermented rice, Hansda pointed out.
Towards evening, the people indulge in archery competition on a target placed on a banana tree. The successful archer is cheered by the tribe and conveyed to the headman's residence with a great demonstration, where the tribe is entertained with rive-beer and fried rice.
He, who can maintain a uniform record for three consecutive years is awarded a special prize by the headman amidst a grand display of tribal songs and dances.
The conclusion of the festival marks a great deal of mirth in all the houses. Puppet monkeys made of straw are made to dance from house to house. People raise subscription for a tribal dinner and the entire countryside rings with merry music and laughter of a good time.
But alongside the celebration, some selected elites of the town and outlying areas also decided to raise important issues before the state government and initiate steps to pressurise the authorities to take up and implement various development projects in the district.
Kuliana MLA Sananda Marandi, the Convenor of the 'pre-mokor get-together' said how the district was industrially backward despite presence of adequate infrastructure, raw materials and availability of man-power.
Precisely, the festival marks the change of season from winter to spring and this strikes a sense of novelty in the life of the Santhalis, said Gurva Soren, a social activist and secretary of the SRDTC (Society for Research and Development of Tribal Culture).