Every part of our beloved India will greet you with high festive spirit. A vibrant culture, rich customs, a sense of celebration, a plate full of exquisite food.
Finally, it is known as the festival of Bharat-Bhoomi. One such part of India where festivals lead the happy life of people is Orissa. Being a land of various religions and tribes, numerous festivals are celebrated by the people throughout the year.
1. Durga Puja
Durga Puja is the most important festival of Orissa which is celebrated in grand manner all over the state of Orissa.
It is celebrated in the month of Ashwin or Kartik (September or October according to the English calendar). Roads and roshanas and pandals are decorated to create festive spirit among the people.
Huge idols of Mother Durga along with two other incarnations of Maa Lakshmi and Maa Saraswati are unparalleled in the pandal.
Chanting of mantras and morning and evening arts can be heard for the grand celebration of this festival.
In Orissa, Durga Puja is celebrated for three to four days and holds significance for Hindu devotees.
Festival Time – October to September.
2. Kalinga Festival
This festival has an interesting story attached to its celebration. A large part of Orissa was formerly known as Kalinga, a land that saw brutal killings and martyrdom during Ashoka’s reign.
It was here that Ashoka decided to lead a peaceful and non-violent life. The Kalinga festival is celebrated as the victory of peace over war.
Various martial arts acts are performed at the Dhauli Shanti Stupa outside Bhubaneswar to pay homage to the martyrs of the Mauryan dynasty.
Vibrant and daring display of martial arts attracts people not only from Orissa but from all over the world.
Festival Time – 10th and 11th January.
3. Chandan Yatra
Also known as Gandhlepan Yatra, it is the biggest festival of Orissa which is celebrated at the Jagannath Temple in Puri.
This 42-day festival is celebrated by worshiping the deities with water mixed with sandalwood. The deities are taken out of the temple in traditional boats called ‘chapa’ for sacred patronage.
Boats that look like swans floating in the water are usually beautifully decorated in red and white colors. The festival ends with a bang in the Vishnu or Shiva temples in Puri.
Thousands of pilgrims gather to participate in this great festival celebration of Orissa.
Festival Time – April and May
4. Konark Dance Festival
Completely dedicated to the beauty of the Konark Sun Temple and the elegance of Odissi dance, this festival transcends religion and customs.
The festival is celebrated to pay homage to the ancient beauty of the Konark temple. As the sun sets, the temple takes on a vibrant look and the lights add to its beauty.
The Odisha Dance Academy of Odissi Dancer Gangadhar Pradhan has organized the Konark Dance Festival at the Konark Natyamandap in Konark.
Renowned classical dancers come together to be a part of this extraordinary festival that is fondly enjoyed by people all over the world.
Festival Time – 1st December to 5th December.
5. Mahabisuwa Sankranti
Mahabisuva Sankranti is celebrated in the month of April as per Odia calendar of New Year.
This festival is also known as Pansankranti. Pan- Misri and a drink made of water are hung on the tulsi tree to represent rain.
This festival is very auspicious for farming and agricultural activities in Orissa. Special offerings are made to Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva and Hanuman on this day.
Devotees visit goddess temples and pray for their coming year.
Time of celebration- 14th or 15th April. 6.
6. Raja Parab
Raja Parba is a four-day festival that is celebrated with enthusiasm everywhere in the state of Orissa.
This festival is celebrated to bring prosperity in agriculture and celebrate womanhood. The festival is dedicated to Basu-Mata, the Earth Goddess, and during this festival, all agricultural work is stopped to give the Goddess rest.
It is believed that the goddess menstruates during this period and to respect the femininity of Mother Earth, all activities like ploughing, felling, felling of trees which harm nature are prohibited.
Festival Time – June or July
7. Rath Yatra
Known as the Car Festival, it is dedicated to Lord Jagannath who is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu and Lord Krishna.
The Rath or Rath Yatra in this festival represents Lord Krishna’s journey from Gokul to Mathura.
The giant deities Krishna, Balarama and Subhadra are taken on a chariot for a week-long pilgrimage to the summer temple.
The main chariot is 14 meters high and 10 meters square with 16 wheels and its construction starts two months before the festival. People of Orissa actively participate in Rath Yatra.
People have always been associated with this traditional festival of Orissa, so much so that in the olden days devotees used to perform death jumps in front of Jagannath’s chariot in the belief that if they die under the chariot, they will be sent to heaven.
Festival Time – April or May
8. Magha Saptami
Magh Saptami is one of the most popular and famous festivals of Konark temple.
On this day, thousands of people gather on the shores of the Bay of Bengal to pray to the sea. Devotees take a holy dip in the sea near the Chandrabhaga shore and greet the rising sun with prayers.
The festival also marks the beginning of a week-long grand fair at Khandagiri near Bhubaneswar.
Offerings to the bay and shores of Bengal and the Sun Temple add to the festive spirit among the people of Orissa.
Time of celebration- in the month of February
9. Capricorn Fair
Makar Sankrant or Makar Mela is another important festival of Orissa.
The festival is celebrated when the sun enters Capricorn and the new rice and sugarcane crops are harvested at this time.
On this auspicious day, people of Orissa offer prayers and food to the Sun God for a healthy and prosperous life.
Time of celebration – January
10. Harassment festival
Representing the tribal life and traditional dances of Orissa, the Chhau festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm across Orissa.
The festival is mainly associated with Odissi dance form – Mayurbhanj Chhau. People of Orissa worship Lord Shiva during this festival.
Trained classical dancers wear masks and perform Chhau.
The dance form has elements of various classical and martial arts.
The Chhau Utsav offers a full feast of dance performances, fine food and the vibrant tribal life of Orissa.
Festival Time – March or April.
11. Puri Beach Festival
Puri Beach Festival is an annual festival that lasts for about five days in the month of November.
During this festival, various cultural programs and exhibitions along with fashion shows, food, adventure sports make it a wonderful festival.
It is a platform to highlight the cultural heritage of Orissa and is attended by numerous tourists from all over India.
Nuakhai is an agricultural festival celebrated by the people of western Odisha and some Chhattisgarh regions of India.
Nuakhai is observed to welcome the new season of rice. It is the most important social festival of Odisha but it holds great importance especially in western Odisha and adjoining areas.
The word ‘nua’ means new and ‘khai’ means food, so the name means farmers harvest a new crop to start the harvest season.
The festival is celebrated across the country by the people of Orissa who have migrated to this place in recent years.
Time of Celebration – Every year the festival is celebrated one day after Ganesh Chaturthi (August or September).
13. Chatar Jatra
Khond people of Kalahandi district of Odisha celebrate Chatar Jatra by worshiping their family goddess Maa Manikeshwari.
Maa Manikeswari is represented by a bamboo stick wrapped in a black cloth.
The festival begins on the night of Durga Ashtami. On the second day, on Dura Navami, the goddess is circumambulated in a 3 km long fair. People celebrate by dancing Ghumura. Animal sacrifice is also a part of the festival.
Time of celebration- Durga Ashtami day
These are some of the festivals of Orissa that showcase the culture and beauty of this coastal state of India.
As each festival is unique and extraordinary with its culture and customs, each of them will entice you to be a part of the grand celebration!