India is the land of diversity and every state has different terrain, climate, and hence different festivals! Today we are going to look at the interesting festivals celebrated in the state of Odisha.
Raja is a three-day-long festival which is celebrated in the mid-June. This festival marks the beginning of the new month in the Odiya calendar and also signifies the arrival of the rainy season. The mother earth who is also believed as the wife of Lord Jagannath is said to be menstruating during these three days.
Although talking about something as natural as menstruation has always been a taboo in most societies, this festival celebrates the very phenomenon that is not even preferred to be talked about.
Very bold! Young girls were new clothes and dress up pretty, specially decorated swings are prepared and the whole community rejoices with special cuisine and games.
“Kumara” literally meaning youth, and “Purnima” literally referring to a full-moon night. This is also the birthday of Goddess Laxmi. The young girls wear new clothes and make a mixture of cottage cheese, milk, and other ingredients.
After the everyday evening prayer girls make put this mixture in a moon shape on plates and wait for the moon to come out. Once the moon is out they pray to god to get a good husband as beautiful as Lord Kartikeya who’s not only Shiva’s son but also is the best-looking god in Hindu mythology.
Durga Puja is celebrated across the nation and most widely celebrated in eastern India during mid-September to mid-October. It is celebrated as the victory of good over evil and women.
And women’s power is also grandly celebrated during this festival that stretches over ten days. Several Shakti- Pithas are made around the state, especially in the cities of Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
Kartika Purnima is the last day of the Kartik month. The entire month the Hindus do not eat meat or animal products and some even avoid eating onion and garlic.
On this day people wake up early in the morning, take a bath in the early morning cold and along with families go to the nearest pond or lake and afloat a little earthen lamp.
During this time the Cuttack city hosts a massive fair called “Bali Jatra”, which brings something from everything!
Pana Sankranti or the Maha Vishuba Sankranti is celebrated in mid of the month of April. This day marks the New Year’s Eve for the Hindus in Odisha and also the Buddhists as the lunisolar calendar as the Aries or Mesha month starts.
This day is celebrated by paying visits to the nearby Shiva, Shakti or Hanuman as this day is also believed to be the birthday of God Hanuman. People of the state prepare a special drink made up of the seasonal fruits, milk, yogurt coconut, and the golden apple, this drink is called “Pana” from which the festival’s name has come from.
Chandana Yatra which literally means “Sandal-wood journey” or Gandhalepana Jatra in Odiya is a well-known festival observed in the Puri Jagannath Temple. It is also the longest festival observed in the state which stretches over a period of 42 days and is observed in two parts “Bahara Chandana” and “Bhitara Chandana”.
Rath Yatra or the chariot festival is the biggest Odia festival. People wait for the entire year for this festival. It stretches over a period of nine days and involves a giant public possession with a chariot with the three deities Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Goddess Subhadra travel from the main temple to the Mausima Temple. These Chariots are made of wood in a “Deula” shape. This festival attracts millions of people every year.
Makara Sankranti is a festival dedicated to the Sun God in the Hindu Calendar. It is a widely celebrated festival across the nation and marks the transit of the sun to the Capricorn sign and hence the name. It also marks the winter solstice and the start of the longer days.
This is a very colorful and joyous agricultural festival marking the harvest season in the state. Odisha is mainly an agricultural state. People here have been engaged in this activity since the very beginning of their civilization and so during this season when the farmers get the fruit of their hard work, they take this day to thank the natural forces and celebrate by offering the “new rice” (newly harvested) to the Gods and distributing it among the keens and the neighbours, people dance to some songs typically made for this festival.
MANA BASA GURUBARA
This is a festival that is observed the entire December month, on all the Thursdays of the month. These Thursdays are called “Marghasira gurubara”. Goddess Mahalaxmi is worshipped in these days.
It is believed that the Goddess herself visits every household and removes all the pain, sorrow, and suffering. People decorate their Houses with a thin rice paste used as paint. T
he lady of the house draws beautiful designs on every door so as to welcome the Goddess and show that they’ve been waiting for her!
DOLA PURNIMA (HOLI)
Dola Purnima or Holi is celebrated on the full moon night of the “Falguna” month which usually comes in the month of March. This festival is celebrated to welcome the spring festival and hence is also called “Basant Utsav” literally meaning the “Spring Festival”.
During the day time people celebrate Holi with a lot of colour and night a small procession of Lord Krishna and Goddess Radha is taken out in every community so as to bless the people himself and people welcome his arrival by offer money to the people to take this initiative and also fruits and other homemade things as “bhoga”.
Prathamashtami is a festival exclusively unique to the state of Odisha. The eldest child of the family is offered a lamp ovation by the eldest of the females in the house and then followed by other elaborate rituals. The Maternal uncle sends the items required for the pooja and God Ganesha is asked for is blessings and the main delicacy of this day is Enduri pitha.
The people of Odisha do not celebrate Karvachauth. They celebrate Savitri instead. The Hindu wives of the state keep fasting the entire day, praying for their husband’s long life. They dress up in new clothes and perform elaborate rituals. It is observed on a no-moon night, that on an “Amavasya” night of the “Jyeshta” month.
This ritual actually follows a story of a woman named Savitri who used to live in woods with her husband and one Amavasya night when Yamraj the god of death comes to take the life of her husband, she prevents him from doing so with all her might and hence the festival also marks womanpower that can even turn the path of death.
Khudurukuni Osa also known as Bhalukuni osa is a festival of fasting mainly observed in the east of the country. This festival is celebrated during the “Bhadrava” (mid-August to mid-September) month of the year. Young girls observe this fasting by offering prayers to Goddess Magala seeking the safety and prosperity of their brothers.
Sitala sasthi is a major festival observed in the state of “Utkal” the ancient name of the state Odisha, which was started 400 years ago in the district Sambalpur. This day is observed as the marriage anniversary of Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati, every year towards the end of the summer season ( the sixth day of the month “Jyeshta”).
This festival is celebrated in the form of a carnival and is quite popular in the state as artists from all walks of life come together to make the day more colorful and joyous.