The state has a very opulent cultural heritage, one of the richest in India. The capital city of Bhubaneshwar is known for the exquisite temples that dot its landscape. The famous classical dance form, Odissi originated in Odisha. Contemporary Odisha has a proud cultural heritage that arose due to the intermingling of three great religious traditions – Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The culture of the Adivasis is an integral part of modern Odia heritage. The tribal people express their cultural identity and distinctiveness in their social organization, language, rituals and festivals and also in their dress, ornaments, art and craft.
Odia (Oriya) is the official language of Odisha and spoken as a native language by about 73% of the people. Other linguistic minorities in the state are Bengali, Hindi, Telugu, Santali.
The majority of people in the state of Odisha are Hindu (94.6%) and there is a also rich cultural heritage in the state. For example, Odisha is home to several Hindu figures. Sant Bhima Bhoi was a leader of the Mahima sect movement. Sarala Dasa, an adivasi, was the translator of the epic Mahabharata in Odia. Chaitanya Dasa was a Buddhistic-Vaishnava and writer of the Nirguna Mahatmya. Jayadeva was the author of the Gita Govinda. Other religion in Odisha are: Christianity 2.4%, Islam 2.1%, Others 0.9%.
Odisha has culinary tradition spanning centuries if not millennia. The kitchen of the famous Jagannath temple in Puri is reputed to be the largest in the world, with a thousand chefs, working around 752 wood-burning clay hearths called chulas, to feed over 10,000 people each day.
Salepur Rasogolla is famous and it is mainly prepared by Kar and Brothers (Bikalananda Kar) of salepur. Its branches are also present in Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Pahala, located on the Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar road, is famous for its variety of Rasgullas. The well-known rice pudding, kheeri (kheer) that is relished all over India, also originated in Puri two thousand years ago. Chhenapoda is also a major Odisha sweet cuisine originated in Nayagarh, it is made by caramelizing cottage cheese with sugar, cardamom and other ingredients and then burning it over a chula (wood-burning clay hearths). Chenna Jheeli and malpua are other famous sweet deserts. One of the most famous delicacies of Odisha is Kakara Peetha (made of sooji or finely grained wheat) especially with coconut filling sauteed with pepper, cardamom, sugar and ghee and sometimes cottage cheese (chena). Its one of the major delicacy during the festival occasions. Arisha is another delicacy. The sweet aroma of powdered rice and Gud being deep fried in Ghee is mesmerizing. Poda Pitha, Haladi Patra Pitha, Manda Pitha, Chitou Pitha are more examples of Odia specialitites. Mudhi (puffed rice) is an integral part of every Odia household. Bariapada is famous for its Mudhi. Mudhi serves the purpose of an instant snacks. It perfectly blends with any thing. Be it Chenachur (mix salty fried snacks), milk, curries, peanuts or mango pulp.
Pakhala (made of rice, water, and yoghurt) is very popular in summer, particularly in the rural areas. Odia desserts are made from a variety of ingredients, with milk, chhenna (a form of ricotta cheese), coconut, rice, and wheat flour being the most common. Also one of the most famous veg dishes are Dalma (made of lentils and vegetables boiled together and then fried with other spices) and Santula. Even the former Indian President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam introduced these into the Rashtrapati Bhavan Menu. Ghanta and Posta curries are also some of the signature dishes. One of the best combination of both the North and South of India is Dahibara-Aludum-Gugguni especially in the city of Cuttack. Dahibara (vadaa dipped and soaked in curd), aludum (a spicy curry made from potato) and Guuguni (chickpea curry) really go well together and is one of the best fusion of the Indian recipes.
Fairs and Festivals
There are a large number of fairs and festivals celebrated in the Orissa. There are festivals relating to each religion, tribal festivals, festivals relating to Lord Jagannath, the presiding deity of the Puri Temple, and many seasonal exhibitions and fairs as well as special festivals such as the Konark Festival, the Rajarani Music Festival, the Puri Beach Festival etc.
Structural and Sand Art
Other cultural attractions include the Jagannatha Temple in Puri, known for its annual Rath Yatra or Car Festival, the unique and beautiful applique artwork of Pipili, silver filigree ornamental works from Cuttack, the Patta chitras (palm leaf paintings), famous stone utensils of Nilgiri (Balasore) and various tribal influenced cultures. The Sun temple at Konark is famous for its architectural splendour and erotic sculpture, while the ‘Sambalpuri textiles’ equals it in its artistic grandeur. The sari of Odisha is much in demand throughout the entire world. The different colors and varieties of sarees in Odisha make them very popular among the women of the state. The handloom sarees available in Odisha can be of four major types; these are Ikat, Bandha, Bomkai and Pasapalli. Odisha sarees are also available in other colors like cream, maroon, brown and rust. The tie-and-dye technique used by the weavers of Odisha to create motifs on these sarees is unique to this region. This technique also gives the sarees of Odisha an identity of their own.
A unique type of art form was developed at Puri, but it has spread all over the world. To carve a sand sculpture, the raw material is clean and fine-grained sand mixed with water. With the help of this type of sand and by the magic of fingers, an artist can carve a beautiful and attractive sculpture on the beach. Sudarshana Pattanaik is one of the major world-class artists in this sculpture.