"Ganesh Puja” to be celebrated by Lucknow Oriya Samaj on 13th September 2018

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FESTIVALS OF ODISHA - A Unique Blend of Culture and Heritage

Odisha, the land of ancient temples and monuments has a rich cultural legacy. This legacy transmits beyond generations with a rich cultural practice. Each Odiya feels certain warmth in his expression when there is a comparison of celebration of festivals among others. The festivals celebrated in Odisha have its own identity and legacy in terms of its rituals, spiritual preaching and practice. The traditional festivals celebrated in Odisha is associated with the Odia delicacy of Pitha which is prepared in almost all households. During the festive occasion, almost every village of Odisha transforms into a great melee of colours as traditionally everybody is adorned with new clothes. It is otherwise called “Bara Masa re Tera Paraba” (thirteen festivals in a year of twelve months) are celebrated in a typical odia family. Some of the unique festivals celebrated by Odias are mentioned below.

One of the specialties of the festivals of Odisha is their variety. The people of the state take part in many festivals, which are organized on different categories such as: temple festivals, special festivals, tribal festivals and other religious festivals. A major temple festival in Odisha is Rath Yatra. Where the deities of Puri Jagannath temple come out to their devotees and through the wooden-chariot make his journey to Mausi Maa. However, the tribal festivals are celebrated by the ethnic people. These festivals offer a lot of entertainment. Two popular tribal festivals in Orissa are Bali Yatra and Chaita Parba.

Festivals of Odisha are very significant part of socio-cultural life of the state. Apart from these festivals there are some religious festivals. Since, Hinduism is the predominant religion of the state, the religious festivals of the region also pertain to the Hindu religion. Some festivals are region-specific. Some of the religious festivals are mentioned below:

Major place of celebration
Dhanu Yatra
Bargarh (Largest open air theatre of world)
Makar Mela
Atri, Kalijai, Jagtasinghpur, Baripada
Saraswati Puja
Throughout Odisha
Magha Saptami
Chandrabhaga (Konark)
Maha Shivaratri
Bhubaneswar, Kapilas, Aradi, Huma, Khiching
Dola and Holi
Throughout Odisha
Bhubaneswar (The chariot festival of deity lingaraj)
Shriram Navami
Bhubaneswar, Odagaon, Saptasajya
Jhamu Yatra
Utkal Divas
Throughout Odisha
Chaitra Parba
Chadak Mela
Nurshinghanath Mela
Nrursinghanath and Harishankar
Sambalpur (The devine marriage celebration of lord shiva & parbati)
Snana Yatra
Raja Parba
Puri, Cuttack, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Keonjhar
Rath Yatra
Puri, throughout Odisha
Jhulan Yatra
Puri and Aul (Kendrapara)
Ganesh Puja
Paradeep (Throughtout Odisha)
Western Odisha (The celebration to mark the start of eating new harvest of rice)
Durga Puja
Cuttack and coastal Odisha
Gajalaxmi Puja
Dhenkanal and Kendrapara
Throughout Odisha
Anla Navami
Bada Osha
Bali Yatra
Cuttack, Paradeep, Konark (To commemorate the maritime trade between Odisha to Indonesia)
Parab Koraput

Many of the festivals of Odisha is unique blend of rich family traditions with rural agricultural touch as Odisha is a state rich in art and agricultural practices. Some of these festivals are exclusively observed by young unmarried girls and married woman for a better health and prosperity of all of their family members. Probably this is one of the unique features in a typical Odia family to think and respect for the unseen natural forces of Gods and Goddesses as well as the elderly and young members in family. Some of these festivals are listed below:

Akshaya Trutiya :

This day is celebrated as an auspicious day in the lunar month of Vaisakh. This festival is observed by the ceremonial sowing of paddy in the field. This festival is observed in almost every farming household of Odisha. This is the day on which the construction of the chariots of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhdra begins.

Pana Sankranti :

The day is celebrated to mark the first day of the solar month. The day is marked by the preparation of Panna (a drink made from juice of bel) in every Odia household. In this day Tulsi(Ocimum) plant is worshipped for good rainfall for a better cultivation cycle. The people of costal Odisha ceremonially consume flour horse-gram (Chattua) on this day.

Raja Parba :

Raja is one of the most popular festivals of Odisha. The first day of Raja festival is always celebrated in the last day of the solar month of Jaistha. The festival marks the fertility of Mother Earth. The festival is celebrated for three days where no agricultural work is carried out on the field. This festival is celebrated with much enthusiasm among the young and adolescent unmarried girls. Singing raja sangeet, merry-making in Jhulas and playing games become the most important preoccupation and become the most favourite past time of the rural folk. Various delicacies along with worship of Mother Earth (Vasudha) is done in every household in the third and final day of Raja parba.

Mana Basa Gurubar :

Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped by all the family members to thank for the good paddy harvest. The worship is carried out on every thursday and is considered to be the sacred day of the week. On this occasion Mana is prepared with the bunched panicles of paddy which incarnates into Goddess Lakshmi. The “Mana” of the household is maintained preserved for generations in the household.

Nuakhai :

It is celebrated as a way of thanks giving to Mother Earth. Celebrated especially in western Odisha in the Oriya month of Bhadrab. It features taking of the first grains of paddy after harvest. All in the family and community all the members join together to celebrate the occasion together.

Kumar Purnima :

This festival is celebrated on the full moon of the lunar month Ashwin. Young and adolescent girls worship moon in the desire of getting an equivalent life-partner. Various delicacies with new clothes with a lot of merry making marks this festival in a typical Odia family.

Khudurkuni Osha :

Young girls worship goddess Mangala on every Sunday in the month of Bhargava. The goddess has the power to cure all the deadly diseases as well as bring good fortune to all the family members. The occasion is celebrated throughout the month on every Sunday and end with much festivity and special preparation of Ukhuda (Lai) along with seasonal fruits.

Prathamashtami :

This festival is celebrated for the wellbeing of the first born in the family. This is celebrated on the eighth day of lunar month of Margasira. Worshipping of Sathi maa (the Goddess providing well-being and good health) with specific delicacy in the name of the child is offered. The child is offered with new dresses on this day.

Savitri Vrata :

This is worshipped by all the married women in favour of good luck, fortune and longivity of their husbands. As Savitri is considered to be the greatest Sati, so her blessing is sought in this occasion.

Makar Sankranti :

It is celebrated on the occasion of northward journey of Sun towards the tropic of capricorn. A special preparation of rice with jaggery called Makara Chaula is offered to the god on this special day to mark the occasion.

Shitala Sasthi :

This is the celebration of Lord Shiva's wedding with goddess Parvati. In villages the wedding celebrations are arranged in a grand manner. The symbolic representation of the marriage is carried out by uniting together the representative Banyan (Ficus benghalensis) with Aswath (Ficus religiosa) together with individual persons with a traditional Hindu style of marriage. Delicacies are distributed among people in celebration of this celestial wedding.

Kartik Purnima :

It is an occasion to commemorate the glorious prosperity of Orissa in the olden days when the sadhabas (maritime traders) practised maritime trade in far off countries. They were traditionally sailing off into the sea every year on the day of Kartik Purnima while their spouses used to see them off by conducting aarti. As a token remembrance of the past glory, this day Odia women sail off small toy-like boats in the rivers and perform puja early in the morning. This is considered as the most pious month of the year.

Last five days of Kartik month is celebrated as Panchuka. It is a practice among pious Odias to give up non-vegetarian food such as fish, meat and egg during the entire month of Kartik. However, those who are not in a position to abstain from non-vegetarian foods during the entire month, have the option to give it up for five days beginning from Panchuka. There is a popular proverb in Oriya which says that even the fish-hunting bird of crane does not touch fish during these five days.

Odisha is known for its magnificent temples and culture. The traditions and culture of people of Odisha is very old and unique. Odia's all over the world celebrate a lot of cultural fairs and festivals. These festivals are an important part of Odia culture and traditions. Odisha offer a perfect mix of religious, cultural and tribal festivals in India. People sing and dance on this cultural events throughout the year, thus representing a unique and colourful tradition. The unique and free lifestyle with a rich cultural adherence of Odias probably makes them simple, gentle and hard-working and this is the unique identity of Odias on this Earth.

Chandra Sekhar Mohanty
National Botanical Research Institute
Lucknow-226 001