Residents of a village in Orissa have organised a weeklong religious ceremony from Sunday to appease gods and get protection against the sea that is slowly crawling into the territory and submerging their land.
Vast tracks of land and houses of about 70 families have come under the waters of the Bay of Bengal at Pentha village in the coastal district of Kendrapada, some 150 kms from Kendrapada over the past 10 years.
Pentha has a population of over 2,000.
Worried villagers in the past met local administration officials and sought steps to stop the march of the sea.
Six months ago the district administration put up wooden pillars along the beach. That, of course, did precious little to stop the sea, which devoured the barriers a couple of months ago, Ashok Rout, a 46-year-old villager, told IANS.
"Only the sea god can save us," Rout said.
"That is why we organised this fire ritual after collecting funds from each household," he added.
The yagna or fire ritual is typically an annual religious affair in many villages, but villagers in Pentha are holding the ceremony especially to pray for protection against the sea.
"Arranging yagna to check the march of sea or river is not a new thing. There are numerous instances of such type of yagna being held in the past during natural disasters like dry spell and drought," explained Satrughan Mishra, one of the priests administering the ceremony.