Festivals in Orissa
There are a large number of fairs and festivals celebrated in the state, being a land of ancient and sacred temples, and a state where three religions flourished, is thronged by pilgrims throughout the year. 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.
Major Religious Festivals:
Mahashiva Ratri, Durga Puja, Ganesha Chaturthi, Lakshmi Puja, Deepavali, Dusserah, Dola Purnima (Holi).
Minor Religious Festivals:
Akshyaya Trutiya, Gahma Purnima, Makara Sankranti, Ashokashtami, Nuakhai, Basanta Panchami, Hingula Yatra, Prathamastami, Baseli Puja, Janmastami, Raja Sankranti, Chaitra Parba, Kartika Purnima, Rama Navami, Khudurukuni Osa, Savitri Brata, Dhanu Yatra, Kumar Purnima, Shamba Dasami, Sital Shashti, Magha Saptami, Visuva Samkranti, Viswakarma Puja.
Major Jagannath Temple Festivals
Rath Yatra(Car Festival): Ratha Jatra, the Festival of Chariots of Lord Jagannatha is celebrated every year at Puri, the temple town in Orissa, on the east coast of India. The presiding deities of the main temple, Sri Mandira, Lord Jagannatha, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra, with the celestial wheel Sudarshana are taken out from the temple precincts in an elaborate ritual procession to their respective chariots. The huge, colourfully decorated chariots, are drawn by hundreds and thousands of devotees on the bada danda, the grand avenue to the Gundicha temple, some two miles away to the North. After a stay for seven days, the deities return to their abode in Srimandira. Ratha Jatra is perhaps the grandest festival on earth. Everything is on a scale befitting the great Lord. Full of spectacle, drama and colour, the festival is a typical Indian fair of huge proportions. It is also the living embodiment of the synthesis of the tribal, the folk, and the autochthonous with the classical, the elaborately formal and the sophisticated elements of the socio-cultural-religious ethos of the Indian civilization.more info: rathjatra.nic.in
Chandan Yatra: Chandan Yatra marks the conclusion of the cycle of religious festivals observed in the famous shrine of Lord Jagannth at Puri followed by similar other shrines of Orissa. The festival, starting from Akshyaya Trutiya, lasts for twenty-one days and is held in the month of Baisakh at the height of the summer heat when Chandan (sandle-paste) and water are essential to keep people cool. As the Hindu deities are modelled on the behaviour of human beings, they are also given the same treatment. During this festival they are taken out of the temples in procession for perambulation in water on floats or boats. The richly decorated boats are called Chapa. Chapa is the Oriya equivalent of float. In most of the Vishnu as well as Shiva temples the festival of the float marks the conclusion of the prime annual festival and it is celebrated with much pomp and eclat. The belief probably is that the deity having concluded his ceremonial perambulation with all attendant paraphernalia on land, must have his aquatic sojourn before He returns to the sanctum of the temple to come out only for the next festival. This festival is most elaborate in Puri and attracts thousands of pilgrims from far and near. On all the twenty-one days the entire road from the shrine of Lord Jagannath leading up to the Narendra Sarobar (a sacred tank in Puri town) along with the houses on both sides is decorated.
Devasnana Purnima: Devasnana Purnima or Snana Yatra is exclusively a festival of Lord Jagannath and is said to be one of the oldest. According to Skanda Purana when Raja Indradyumna installed the wooden deities he arranged this bathing ceremony. This day is considered to be the birth-day of Lord Jagannath. Held in the full-moon day of the month of Jyestha this festival is also simultaneously held in all other imprortant shrines of Orissa. However, the festival being most elaborate and important at Puri, it attracts thousands of visitors and piligrims from all over the country.
Major Special Festivals
Konark Festival: The annual Konark Festival, which is held in an open air auditorium with the temple as the backdrop, showcases a magical parade of India’s classical and traditional dance forms. Eminent dancers and their troupe delight visitors in the wintry evening of early December with dramatic choreographies. Besides, the dance performances the visitors will be treated, in an Artist Camp, to an exhibition of Orissan temple sculptures which are often described as poetry transcribed on stone. Sand Art exhibition will be yet another attraction for tourists.
The Konark Temple is connected by excellent all-weather roads with Puri (35kms) and Bhubaneswar (65kms) which are also nearest Railheads. Nearest Airport is Biju Pattanaik Airport, Bhubaneswar.
Ekamra – The Temple City Festival: the Temple City of India was earlier known as Ekamra Kshetra literally meaning the land of mango orchards. The name had a mythological significance as the mango orchards have a special relevance in the union of lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Thus Bhubaneswar is known to be a renowned Shaiva Pitha. Being the capital city of the culturally rich Orissa, Bhubaneswar has nourished and encouraged creativity in all forms. The city boasts of a unique tradition of arts, crafts, dance, music and literature. Anchored to its traditional roots, the city has matched steps with changing times and that too, quite gracefully! Ekamra- the Temple City Festival is an occasion to celebrate this unique dynamic spirit of Bhubaneswar. This festival showcases the impeccable blend of tradition and modernity, which is characteristic of the city. The various components of the festival revive the cultural heritage and simultaneously express Bhubaneswar’s acceptance of the modern outlook.
Toshali National Crafts Mela: Held in the idyllic setting of the temple city of Bhubaneswar, Toshali National Crafts Mela is a unique showcase of the spirit of rural India. This event provides a huge platform for various talented artists, painters, weavers, sculptors and craftsmen from around the country as well as other SAARC nations to display their creativity. An ambience resembling the typical setting of Indian Rural Haat is created to infuse life into this unique concept. This 13-day long Mela gives an opportunity to the visitors to interact with nationally and internationally acclaimed craftsmen and buy their exclusive creations. Various stalls display some of the best handicrafts and handlooms of India like cane craft from North East, chiki woodcraft from Kashmir, wood and cane inlay work from South India, oxidized jewellery, sea-shell decorations from Rajasthan, patola and bandhni from Gujarat and Rajasthan, ikat of Orissa, chikan from Lucknow, kantha from Tripura & West Bengal, kanjeevaram from the South are found in this mela. Besides, many colourful cultural programmes and food stalls with variety of delicacies add to the attraction of the Toshali National Crafts Mela.
Fairs and Exibitions
Bali Jatra: To commemorate the glorious past of commercial voyages to the islands of Bali, Java and Sumatra by Orissan Traders, a big fair called “Bali Yatra” (November-December) is held on Mahanadi river bank at Cuttack on the fullmoon day of Kartik.
Magha Mela: The most popular and colourful festival of Konark, an occasion for a grand congregating of Indian pilgrims and enthusiasts from abroad, falls on the 7th day of the bright half of Magha. This festival is celebrated in the month of January-February. The Indian pilgrims take holy dips in the Chandrabhaga Tirtha near the sea and welcome the rising Sun with prayers.
Taratarini Mela: The ‘Taratarini Mela’ (March- April) one of Orissa’s biggest fairs, takes place on each Tuesdays of the month of Chaitra i.e. from around mid-March to mid-April at Taratarini Pitha – 30 km from Berhampur. A grand congregation takes place on the 3rd Tuesday.
Adivasi Mela: This fair showcases the art and craft of the tribal communities. Forest products and tribal products, exhibited and sold here as well as cultural programmes presented by tribal communities, are special highlights of the fete. This is a rare occasion to have a glimpse of the unique tribal culture of Orissa in the urban city of Bhubaneswar. Local residents eagerly wait for this annual opportunity to buy their yearly needs while tourists throng to get an over all picture and feel of the tribal society. Do not miss the opportunity. Plan your visit to include the Mela in your itinerary for Orissa during this period and carry a life time experience. The count down has begun.
Source: Orissa Tourism