Odisha has a rich cultural heritage, remarkable architecture that is reflected in the temples, lingo, spirited dance, music and art forms. This is the land where Ashoka the great fought Kalinga war and later on took the path of peace.
Odisha state has diverse culture as it shares a coastal corridor between the northern and southern parts of the country. Odisha incorporated both Dravidian and Aryan cultures in olden times. Culture and traditions occupy a very important role in the life of Odiya people, and they are kind and helping by nature. There are over 62 tribal communities in Odisha but they share mutual respect and live in peace. The official language spoken by majority of people here is Odia.
You talk about Odiya cuisine and you cannot skip talking about Lord Jagannath’s Bhog/ MahaPrasad. A total number of 56 food items are offered to Lord Jagannath. Two types of maha Prasada is offered to Lord Jagannath one is Sankudi mahaprasad includes items like rice, ghee rice, mixed rice, cumin seed and asafoetida-ginger rice mixed with salt, and dishes like mixed curries of different types, Saaga Bhaja’, Khatta, sweet dal, plain dal mixed with vegetables, porridge and many more. The second type of Maha Prasad is Sukhila which consists of dry sweets, not only this Rasogolla and Khira (kheer) are offered as Bhog.
A normal Odiya meal consists of rice, dal/Dalma (dal cooked with vegetables), one fry, one mixed vegetable curry/curry, and a non-veg curry. Apart from these, there are traditional dishes like chhena poda, Mansa tarkari, pakhala etc. The important thing that you will notice in Odiya cuisine is they use very less oil and spices. Here you will also find places that offer food which is cooked without onion and garlic but tastes very delicious.
Festivals of Odisha:
You talk about festivals of Odisha and first comes the famous Rath Yatra or Chariot festival which attracts people from all over the world. During this festival, Lord Jagannath himself, along with his siblings comes out to give darshan to devotees and spend time with them. From the main temple, he goes to Gundicha temple and stays there for 9 days.
This is a three-day festival where the first day is called Pahilirajo, the second day is mithuna Sankranti and the third day is called basi rajo, the fourth day is vasumathi snana. During this festival women and unmarried girls wear new clothes take leave from household work and spend time on swings playing indoor games and enjoy special food that is prepared to mark the festival.
It is a festival that is held for the long life and prosperity of the eldest child. Mother does Aarati to the eldest child and maternal uncle sends the items that are necessary for the ritual. The main delicacy of the occasion is Enduri Pitha and lord Ganesha and Shasthi Devi are worshipped along with the family diety. This festival is also known as Paap nashini Ashtami, Kaal bhairav Ashtami, and Saubhagini Ashtami. Apart from these, many other festivals are celebrated Such as Durga puja, Ganesh puja, Maha Shivaratri etc.
Odissi Dance was originally performed by Devadasis, this is the dance form that bears closeness to temple culture. Jayadeva was a poet from the 12th century, who is very famous for his poetic work Gita Govinda. Odissi dance form mainly showcases the divine form of love that exists between a devotee and almighty (Lord Krishna with Radha and Gopis), mythical stories are also performed by dancers using symbolic costumes, abhinaya (expressions) and Mudras (gestures) are used very gracefully. Gita Govinda played a very important role in the Bhakti Movement.
Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra, Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Debaprasad Das, and Smt. Sanjukta Panigrahi are the representatives of Great Odissi Dance (Classical form). Apart from this, there are other dance forms such as Chhau, Gotipua Dalkhai and Pala.
Odissi Music: Odissi music has a history that dates back to two thousand years. The traditional ritual music is used in the service of Lord Jagannath. Jayadevas Ashtapadis occupy a special place in Odissi Music, as he was the first to have composed lyrics. Odissi music is very different from Hindustani and Carnatic Music, it has unique ragas and talas, Ragas are sung in Druta tala. Mālasri, bhajana, sarimāna, jhulā, kuduka, koili, poi, boli chaupadi, chhānda, champu, chautisa, janāna, etc are various aspects of Odissi music. Apart from these, there are four others: raganga, bhabanga, natyanga and dhrubapadanga.
Atibadi Jaganantha Dasa, Dinakrusna Dasa, Kabi Samrata Upendra Bhanja, Banamali Dasa, Kabisuriya Baladeba Ratha, Kabikalahansa Pattanayaka, Jayadeva and Balarama Dasa are some of the great compers and Poets.
Some other things that are unique in Odisha are, the Sambalpuri Ikat sarees, Kataki sarees, and Bomkai sarees that maximum tourists buy. Jhoti-Chita art or the traditional white art practiced especially in rural Odisha during festival times, Dhokra works and brass works, embroidery work which has its roots in pipili village, Tarakasi jewellery, sand art, patta chirta etc.
Though Odisha is also on the path of development and progress its beauty is that it has retained its culture and heritage along the path of progress.