Cricket to showcase Odissi flavour through cheerleaders

Skimpy skirts that regular cheergirls wear at cricket matches

Perhaps impressed by the hugely popular but equally controversial cheer girls in the last two editions of the cricket carnival, the Indian Premier League(IPL), the OCA is planning to engage similar cheer girls to perform during the coming One Day International(ODI) between India and Sri Lanka scheduled to be played in Cuttack’s Barabati stadium in the second half of December.

The preparations of the match have already begun. The cheer girls who would be engaged during the Cuttack ODI, however, would not be wearing small skirts and skinny tops neither they would be dancing to the tune of western music like their IPL counterparts.

Instead, they would be attired with traditional Orissa dresses like Sambalpuri sarees and display various movements of Odisan dance forms during the drink intervals and lunch break as well as fall of every wicket or when a batsman would score a boundary or a sixer.

But the OCA’s grand plans have already triggered a controversy with the state’s cultural brigade fuming at the association for trying to “humiliate” the state’s rich heritage and tradition in a platform like a cricket match. What is likely to add more problems for the OCA is a threat from a hard line organization to disrupt the international match through violent means if the plan is implemented.

 The OCA’s unique idea was made public by its all powerful secretary Ashirbad Behera a few days back while he was discussing with the local media about the preparations for the coming ODI in Barabati Stadium, one of the oldest cricket venues in the country which will be hosing its 16th international one day match.
According to Behera, as the match will be watched by millions of people not only within the country but also in different parts of the globe through television, the display of Oriya culture through the cheer girls would definitely be beneficial for the state.

However, just a couple of days after the OCA made its plan public, a number cultural organizations, dance gurus and Odissi dancers were up in arms against the move. “The move is nothing but an attempt to humiliate the state’s rich tradition and culture. Those who do not know anything about these culture and traditions can think of such a show in a cricket stadium”, the cultural organizations and personalities involved with the state cultural circles said in a statement.

Some of them, in fact, threatened to launch a statewide movement to create public opinion against the OCA’s plan.

Kalinga Sena, a local organization went one step further and said it would definitely disrupt the international match, if necessary by forcibly tampering with the pitch if the OCA went ahead with its “cheer girls” plan. “If the OCA will use cheer girls from Orissa and dress them up in traditional Odishi attire then it will be vehemently opposed. Anybody who will dare to humiliate the Orian culture will pay a very heavy price”, Sena chief Hemanta Rath has already gone on record saying.

Kalinga Sena, it may be recalled, had allegedly engineered the now famous assault on the then Cricket India coach, Greg Chappel, outside the Bhubaneswar airport a couple of years back when the Indian team was in Orissa to play an international game.

Though it has not yet formally announced the withdrawal of its plan, the pressure seems to have already started showing on the OCA as it has come out with a fresh statement saying that it would not do anything against the wish of the common people in the state. “Whatever we will do it will be done only with the support and backing of the common people”, the cricket body has said.

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