Important Festivals Of Orissa (Odisha)
The Festival of Orissa or Odisha is also referred to as Odia Festival, Odia Parba, Odiya Festival or Orissan Festival.
Odisha is known for her colorful festivals. The festivals are numerous, spread over all the twelve months of a year. The village life centers round agriculture. Therefore, there is an intimate relationship of festivals with the numerous agricultural operations that take place. Orissan Festivals are also observed as part of Hindu religious faith. Dates for Orissan festivals are determined by the traditional Hindu calendar. The specialties of most of the Orissan festivals are that, on these occasions, much merrymaking is done, new clothes are worn and special dishes are prepared at home. The Orissan cuisine is at its test in these functions. Delicious dishes prepared include small cakes known as Pitha’ and also sweets made from milk. Festivals carry forward people’s tradition and culture.
A brief List of major festivals of Orissa during is given below:
- January : Makar, Dhanu Yatra
- February: Magha Saptmi, Sarswati Puja
- March : Dola Yatra (Holi), Siva Ratri
- April : Sokastami, Mahavisuva Sankrati, Rama Navami
- May : Jhamu Yatra, Chaita Parva
- June : Sitalsasthi, Raja Festival
- July : Car Festival ( Rath Yatra)
- August : Jhulan Yatra, Rakhi Purnima
- September : Ganesh Puja
- October: Durga Puja, Kumar Purnima, Diwali, Nuakhai
- November : Kartika Purnima, Aunla Nabami
- December : Prathamastami
Please note that the months mentioned above is an appox. estimate. Actual period(months) of occurance of a particular festival may vary.
Brief summary of the important festivals of Orissa is recounted below:
This festival is the most important in coastal Orissa and unique in its observance in honour of the Mother Earth. It is observed for three days. All agricultural operations remain suspended during these days. During ‘Raja’ festival, food specialties are prepared in every home. The most important is ‘Poda Cake’ made out of rice, coconut, molasses and spices. Children take Pitha (Rice cakes) and fruits during this period. They wear new clothes and make a lot of merry-making in ‘Swings’.
This is the beginning of New Year in Orissa. This festival is also called: ‘Pana Sankranti’. On this day in every Oriya home, ‘Pana’ or household sweet drink is given to the neighbours and visitors. Families make special prayers and food offerings in the temples. On this day also ends the fire walking function called `Jhamu Yatra’ where penitents walk on live charcoal to the accompaniment of gongs and drums.
Rath Yatra or Car Festival
This is the grandest of all festivals in Orissa and is held at Puri. It begins from the second day of the bright half of (Asadha) month which falls in June or July every year. It is the sacred journey of images. Lord Jagannath with brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra in wooden chariots journey from main Jagannath temple through the streets to another shrine called `Gundhicha Char’, where the deities stay for nine days. On the last day, the return journey is made i.e. from Gundicha Char to main Jagannath temple. This is called Bahuda Yatra. Thousands of devotees from all over India throng on Ratha Yatra day at Puri to pull the sacred Chariots.
This is the oldest agricultural festival in the State. On this day farmer goes to his field with turmeric powder, sandal paste, paddy seeds mingled with vermilion and rice cakes. He takes along with him his plough. In the field, he prays and offers ‘Bhoga’ to goddess Lakshmi and sows fistful of paddy seeds in the field after ploughing it.
This is celebrated in grand form at the Lingaraj Temple at Bhubaneswar. This is a chariot festival like the Car Festival of Puri. The protege of Lord Lingaraj (Siva) is taken out in a wooden chariot from the main temple to Rameswar temple. The chariot returns after a four day stay with Mausi Maa.
It is celebrated with much colour and festivity in the State. Durga Puja symbolizes the commemoration of victory of good over evil. Mother Durga on this day killed the demon ‘Mahisasura’ and brought about peace in the land; Puja Mandaps with coloured clay images of goddess Durga are set up in large numbers. Crowds throng Puja Mandaps to enjoy the festivities. Goddess Durga is worshipped from the Seventh to Tenth day. On the Tenth day which is called ‘Vijaya Dasami’, a procession is carried out toward a river for immersion of the image.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated with much gusto when the sun enters the orbit of Capricorn. By this time, harvest of new paddy, sugarcane crops etc. are over. On the day of the Sankranti, food offering are made to God, Sun God is worshipped with great fervor and enthusiasm by one and all. The festival is also called ‘Makara Mela’.
On this day, devotees remain on fast and perform ‘Puja’ in the ‘Siva’ temples. The main festival is celebrated at the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar where sacred lamp burns on the temple top.
This is very popular and colourful festival in the State. Radha and Krishna are the main deities who are worshipped in this ‘Parbah’. People in the rural areas carry the gaily decorated ‘Viman’ with the idols in the village streets singing devotional songs. The main attraction of Dola Yatra is Holi when people throw colour powders and waters on each other.
This is the main festival of fishermen community. They dance with a wooden horse in villages. This is called (Ghoda) Horse dance.
This is a major social festival of Western Orissa. Generally, it takes place in August-September on an auspicious day fixed by the astrologers. Although the festival is meant for eating new rice of the year, it is observed as a day of general festivity. New rice is cooked with milk and sugar and distributed. People greet their friends and relatives.
On this day thousands of pilgrims take holy dip in the sea near Chandrabhaga beach. They welcome the rising sun with prayers. Konark is the place of main festival. According to ‘Puranas’ Samba worshipped Sun God on this day and was cured from leprosy disease.
This is the celebration of marriage ceremony of Lord Siva with Goddess Parvati and is mostly observed in Western Orissa particularly at Sambalpur in June. The wedding of the divine couple is observed with much pomp and ceremony. Lakhs of people witness it when the idols are taken out in procession on a `Medha’.
This is colourful festival of Western Orissa, particularly at Bargarh town. Dhanu Yatra relates to the episodes of visit of God Krishna to Mathura where King Kansa, the tyrant, ruled over his subjects. The ceremony is colourfully observed at Bargarh where thousands of people assemble daily to witness the ceremony. The town of Bargarh becomes Mathura. Different acts of the Puranic descriptions are performed and spectators witness it with great joy.
Thakurani is the presiding deity of Berhampur in South Orissa. Her blessings are sought by everybody. The Thakurani Yatra is observed with much pomp and ceremony when the deity is brought outside.
This is a famous war dance. Other subjects have also come into this dance.