Discover the Rich Culture and Tradition of Odisha, India (2023)
Odisha, one of the most ancient states in India has been ruled by several kings and dynasties and thus has a diverse culture and traditions in its wake. Odisha is the land of temples with a vast history. Moreover, it is also one of the oldest civilizations in the country. The state has also been mentioned in Indian epics like the Mahabharata and Ramayana. It is also the land of ancient Kalinga from where King Ashoka began following and also preaching Buddhism. It is believed that Odisha is the first state in India where our ancestors of the Aryan race settled down and was known as Odras, and thus the state got its name.
Culture and Tradition of Odisha
Odisha boasts a rich cultural heritage and tradition and that makes it one of the best places to visit if you love traditional arts, music, dance, and architecture. With numerous exquisite temples and astounding monuments, with a variety of folk dances, festivals, and fairs, Odisha has become a place of great interest for people from all over the world.
This article helps you know about the rich culture and tradition of Odisha, including its arts and handicrafts, music and dance, fairs and festivals, architecture, language and literature, costume, people, and different tribes. Maybe it is about the architectural marvel of the Konark temple or the world-famous Odissi dance, maybe it is the exceptional Pattachitra art or the globally-recognized sand art, Odisha is quite glorified in terms of culture and tradition. So, get ready to drench in the magnificence of the bounteous culture and tradition of Odisha.
Arts and Handicrafts of Odisha That Are Praiseworthy
Some of the best-known arts and handicrafts of Odisha are listed below.
Pattachitra (Cloth Painting)
Pattachitra is the most famous traditional form of art in Odisha. “Patta” means ‘cloth’ and “Chitra” means ‘picture’. The themes of Pattachitra are mythological, usually revolving around Lord Jagannath and Radha-Krishna. Pattachitra displaying Lord Ganesha and Shiva are also quite popular. Apart from cloth, Pattachitra is also done on palm leaves.
Sand art is an indigenous form of art that is mostly practiced on beaches, especially on the Puri beach in Odisha. This art form uses fine-grained, clean sand and water as raw materials. Using sand and water, various sculptures are beautiful sculptures are built on the beach. This art form has developed exponentially and found recognition globally. Mr. Sudarshan Pattnaik from Odisha has been recognized as an International Sand Artist and his amazing sand art sculptures are been appreciated globally.
Odisha is also famous for Rock art that dates back to the prehistoric period and the earliest reports are found at Viramkhol in the Jharsuguda district. The caves of Ratnagiri, Udaygiri, and Lalitgiri showcase the extraordinary legacy of sculptural brilliance left by some of the fine carvers.
Silver Filigree Or Tarakasi
Silver filigree or “Tarakasi” work (as known locally) is an ancient art form that is around 500 years old. This art form hails from Cuttack in Odisha. Generally, Tarakasi jewelry is used to embellish Durga idols during Durga Puja. The Odissi dancers also adorn themselves with these silver Tarakasi pieces of jewelry.
Pipili near Puri is a village famous for its applique work. Locals call it ‘Chandua kama’ (applique work). This artwork originated as temple art, mainly limited to canopies and umbrellas that are used in the Rath Yatra festival. However, nowadays, its usage is more in households and for decorative purposes. This handicraft involves embroidery and stitching along with mirror works. Pipili has entered the Limca Book of Records for the world’s largest thematic applique work.
Brass And Dhokra Works
Dhokra is a casting method that is a blend of metallurgical skills and wax techniques. It is an ancient bell metal tribal craft that uses an alloy of tin and copper or brass and zinc. Several utility items like utensils, pans, pots, lamps, and even tribal jewelry are fashioned out of this craft.
Architecture of Odisha That Will Leave You Spellbound
The temples of Odisha depict the grandeur of the state’s architecture. Many of these including those in the Konark Sun temple, Puri Jagannath Temple, and Lingaraj Temple of Bhubaneshwar are quite famous across the country, and people from various places visit and admire them a lot. The majority of the famous temples in Odisha are mostly built in the style of “Kalinga” architecture.
Konark Sun Temple
The architecture of Konark Sun Temple is beyond imagination. Designed in the silhouette of a massive chariot along with seven horses and twenty-four wheels, the entire temple is considered to be a chariot of the Sun God. This is a World Heritage Site certified by UNESCO. This architectural marvel reflects the remarkable work of the architects who have built it. If you love to explore the architecture of Odisha, then Konark Sun Temple is one of the most ideal places to visit.
Puri Jagannath Temple
Puri in Odisha is famous for the Lord Jagannath temple, which is one of the Char Dham pilgrimages in India. This colossal temple is famous globally for its annual chariot festival known as Rath Yatra. The architecture of this temple is quite extraordinary and worth seeing.
Lingaraj Temple Of Bhubaneswar
Lingaraj temple of Bhubaneswar is the largest of all the temples in the State’s capital city and is one of the prime tourist attractions in Odisha. Lord Shiva is worshipped in this temple as Harihara, i.e. a combined form of Vishnu and Shiva. The architecture of the temple represents the quintessence of the Kalinga architectural style. The style used in building Lingaraj temple is the Deula style.
Fall In Love With The Dance and Music of Odisha
Dance Of Odisha
Odissi and many other folk dances of Odisha are famous all over the world. Below are some of the most popular dance forms practiced and performed in Odisha.
Odissi: Odissi is one of the oldest forms of classical dance in India, and the dance traces its origins to Natya Shastra- the sacred Sanskrit text on performing arts. The dance originally performed by Devadasis, bears the closest resemblance to temple culture. Later on, it received royal patronage. Odissi dance usually involves a mythical story, abhinaya or expressions, symbolic costumes, mudra or gestures, and is extremely graceful. It evolved with time and has now become an internationally recognized and liked dance form.
Chhau: Chhau is a popular dance form from Odisha that has been originated in the Mayurbhanj district. The specialty of this dance is that it is a form of tribal martial dance. In such a type of dance, two groups of dancers armed with swords and shields, attack and defend themselves alternatively with vigorous movements along with the rhythmic music playing in the background. This is quite exciting to watch people performing the Chhau dance.
Gotipua: Another interesting type of dance from Odisha is the Gotipua dance. It refers to boy dancers who dress up as girls. The boys always dance in pairs while performing the Gotipua dance. The enthralling acrobatic moves in this dance complement the singing, which is also done by the boys themselves.
Dalkhai (Sambalpuri): Everyone in Odisha and even many people outside the state are aware of the “Sambalpuri” dance. Sambalpuri dance is categorized into many forms, and out of several forms, Dalkai is the most popular one. Dalkhai dance has been originated in the tribes of Sambalpur. This dance is especially performed in Durga puja and other festivals. Men and women wear Sambalpuri clothes and dance together narrating the love story of Krishna and Radha or performing the episodes from Ramayana and Mahabharata.
Mahari Dance: This is a major dance form of Odisha that originated in the temples of the state. The state’s history provides evidence of the Devdasi culture in Odisha. Devadasis were female dancers who were dedicated to the temples of the state. The Devdasis were also known as Maharis and thus, the dance that they performed came to be known as Mahari Dance.
Music Of Odisha
Odisha is known for its rich tradition of music. Walls of ancient temples have the figures of dancers and musicians carved beautifully that speak about the rich musical heritage of Odisha. Odissi music is a classical form that comprises all the essential ingredients quite similar to Hindustani and Karnatic music.
The folk music of Odisha is known as “Loka Geeta” and various folk songs are sung on different occasions. Some forms of Odia folk songs include Kendra Geeta, Dalkhai Geeta, Balipuja Geeta, Jaiphula Geeta, Kela Keluni Geeta, Gopal Ugala, etc. that are passed from one generation to the next. People sing these songs with music using different instruments.
Know-About Odisha’s Festivals and Fairs and Celebrate The Divinity of the State
The people of Odisha celebrate different festivals throughout the year. Though some of the festivals are common and celebrated in all parts of the state, many festivals are specifically celebrated in specific regions. Some festivals that are commonly celebrated all over the state are Durga Puja, Diwali, Holi, etc.
Ratha Yatra, Chandan Yatra, Sana Yatra are celebrated at Puri. Apart from these festivals, the Bali Yatra that happens on the full moon day in the month of Kartika is celebrated in Cuttack, Chaitra Parva is celebrated at Baripada, Thakurani Yatra is celebrated in Berhampur, and so on.
Cultural Festivals Of Odisha
Some of the famous cultural festivals of Odisha are mentioned below
This is an annual cultural festival that is organized by the Odisha Tourism Department. This cultural festival is held in the beautiful backdrop of the Konark Sun Temple. Proficient dancers perform different types of dances on the stage. Some of the dances are Odissi, Kathak, Chhau dance, Kathak, Bharatanatyam, and some other traditional and cultural dance forms of India. Moreover, many sculptures, and crafts fairs, along with attractive sand art exhibitions are also featured in the Konark Festival
Konark Dance And Music Festival
This is a vibrant festival organized by the Konark Natya Manap and takes place in the Natyashala in the Konark Sun Temple. Many national and international artists take part in this festival and perform various captivating dance performances. This is surely one of the best festivals to witness in Odisha, especially if you are fond of dance and music.
Rajarani Music Festival
Rajarani Music Festival is held in the backdrop of the Rajarani temple in Bhubaneswar during January every year. The festival showcases many enthralling performances by expert Odissi and Hindustani vocal singers. If you are fond of music then the Rajarani Music Festival is the one that you need to witness.
Dhauli- Kalinga Mahotsav
The Dhauli- Kalinga Mahotsav is another famous cultural festival of Odisha that is celebrated grandly and more than 500 artists from various disciplines take part in this festival and perform a wide array of atrial arts with traditional and classical dances and music of the state. This cultural festival of Odisha was started by the Odisha Dance Academy (ODA) and Art Vision to promote the state’s rich and varied culture. Some of the acts performed in The Dhauli- Kalinga Mahotsav are the Odissi dance, Odissi vocal, Chhau dance, Mardal recital, Pala, Daskathia, Sankirtna, etc. This exciting festival takes place at the Dhauli Hills which are located on the outskirts of Bhubaneswar.
Parava (Tribal Dance Festival)
The Parava festival of tribal dances is organized from October to November at Koraput in Odisha. This one-month-long cultural festival showcases various dance forms that are exhibited by the people from the tribal communities in the state. The artists dress themselves up with colorful costumes and fancy headgear and perform their best. Various handicrafts and other local products are also exhibited and sold in the exhibition organized during this cultural festival.
Fairs of Odisha
Numerous fairs are organized in Odisha that reflects the captivating culture of the state. Some of the major fairs are Khandagiri Mela and Kharavela Mahotsava, Bali Yatra, Taratarini Mela, Magha Mela, Joranda Mela, Adivasi Mela, and Makar Mela. People of all ages take part in these fairs and enjoy them to their fullest.
Khandagiri Mela And Kharavela Mahotsava
Out of the several cultural festivals that are organized in Odisha, the Khandagiri Mela and Kharavela Mahotsava are one of the most important ones. Beginning from the Magha Saptami Day, an extremely grand fair is organized at Khandagiri near the state’s capital city of Bhubaneswar and it runs for about a week. This cultural festival aims at promoting Odisha’s tourism and helps in keeping the state’s rich culture and tradition alive. Odissi, Chhau, Sambalpuri, Shankhabadan, and Ghodanacha are some of the major dances performed by extremely talented troupes of the state. An exhibition is also organized in the fair where local handicrafts, and hand-made products like bell-metal utensils, stoneware, etc are displayed.
Bali Yatra is also called the “Voyage to Bali” and is held annually in Cuttack, Odisha. This is one of the largest fairs in the state. It is celebrated for seven days from the Kartik Purnima (The full moon day of the month of ‘Kartik’, i.e. during October and November). Bali Yatra is celebrated to commemorate the occasion of Odia voyagers who were sailing to the distant islands of Bali, Borneo, Java, Sumatra, and Sri Lanka to carry out their commercial activities and trade purposes.
This fair of Odisha looks extremely colorful with so many cultural events, food stalls, and vendors selling numerous products from different parts of the country. In memory of the voyages of their ancestors to far-off lands, people lit lamps of toy boats and float them in the rivers and ponds.
Magha Mela is an extremely colorful festival of Konark that falls on the seventh day of the month of ‘Magha. Many pilgrims from different places throng to the Chandrabhaga Tirtha near the sea in the early morning and chant holy prayers. People take dips in the holy river waters and welcome the rising sun. A fair is organized at Khandagiri, located near Bhubaneswar for seven days during this time.
Taratarini Mela is also known as Chaitra Mela, which is one of the biggest fairs in the state. It takes place every Tuesday of the month of Chaitra at the Taratarini shrine, located near the city of Berhampur in Odisha. Devotees from various parts of the country come here to seek the blessings of the Goddess Tara Tarini.
Joranda Mela, also known as Mahima Mela is a fair of Odisha that is grandly celebrated at Joranda in the Dhenkanal district of the state. This fair lasts for three days and begins on the Magha Purnima day. During this, the Mahima sanyasis gather at a place to worship Mahima Gosain’s Samadhi Pitha. A major highlight of this event is the “Yajnan Kund”, which is a ritual performed to bring peace to mankind.
Makar Mela is a grand event celebrated on Makar Sankranthi dedicated to the Sun God. The fair is organized in several places like Dhabaleswar in Cuttack, Makar Muni Temple in Balasore, Hatakeshwar at Atri in Khorda, and many other places to name. Makar mela is celebrated with great enthusiasm and people from distant places participate in this mela.
This is an annual fair that I celebrated in Bhubaneswar at the Adivasi Exhibition Ground in January. This mela or fair displays the art and craft forms of the tribal communities from all over Odisha. It reflects the art, culture, unique traditions, music, and lifestyle of the tribal people in Odisha through various cultural, dance, and musical shows.
Odisha’s Language and Literature That Have A Magical Effect
Odia is the official language of Odisha and the majority of people in the state speak this language. Odia belongs to the Indo-Aryan family that is related closely to the Assamese and Bengali languages.
The rich Odia literature has been divided into Old Odia, Early Middle Odia, Middle Odia, Late Middle Odia, and Modern Odia literature. Some of the great writers who have their roots in Odisha are Sarala Das, Achyutananda Das, Balaram Das, Ananta Das, Yasovanta Das, Madhusudan Das, Fakir Mohan Senapati, Gangadhar Meher, Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja, Radhnat Ray, etc.
One of the major literary events that are organized in Odisha to promote and create awareness about the rich Odia Literature is The Odisha Literary Festival.
Remarkable Costume Of Odisha That Portrays The State Culture
Women in Odisha mostly wear saris. Some of the famous types of saris of Odisha are Bomkai Pata, Kataki, and Sambalpuri Sari. Men traditionally wear Dhoti and Kurta along with the Gamucha (a thin cotton towel). However, today modernity has touched Odisha and people now wear modern or Western wear.
Know-About The People Of Odisha
About 95% of the people in Odisha follow Hinduism and more than 62 tribal communities reside in the state. People from the Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, and other religions also reside here. However, the people of Odisha still live in Harmony. The cultural diversity of the state is quite admirable. It must be mentioned that the state of Odisha has extremely low crime rates. This says the simplicity and innocence of the people of Odisha. People of Odisha find joy in a simple life with minimal needs. They are kind, helpful, and extremely humane.
The Lip-Smacking Cuisines Of Odisha
Rice is the staple food of the Odia people. Typically, when we compare the Odia cuisines with other states, they use less oil and spice, however, they are delicious and have a unique flavor. Some of the famous sweet Odia foods are Rasagolla, Rasabali, Chhena Poda, Kanika, etc. A typical Odia meal includes rice, dalma/dal, a vegetable curry, a fried dish, and fish or meat curry.
Odisha is a state with rich culture and heritage and the people of this east Indian state are friendly, simple, and kind-hearted. Odisha might not be at the top of the list of the most developed state in India, it, however, is one of the blessed state for keeping its culture and tradition alive. All these make the state one of the best places to visit and admire.