Fairs & FestivalsOdisha observes a large number of festivals mostly associated with harvesting seasons, religion and temples. Odisha is a confluence of the Aryan, Dravidian and aboriginal cultures, thus celebrations bring forth a grand college of different rituals and traditions. There is not better evidence for this religion -spiritual yearning in its popular form than a fair or festival virtually every month in different parts of Odisha. The car festivals, yatras, melas, pujas, and bratas or oshas (fasting) involve mass participation, spread throughout the year. Many other festival festivals introduced by the Department of Tourism and culture show case the rich heritage, art and culture of the state. Most of these held on a full moon or dark moon days confirm the common belief that planets and stars are forces influences human life.
Major Festivals of Odisha
Rath Yatra: June / JulyRath Yatra (car festival) is the biggest and the grandest of all festivals, the highlight is the sacred journey of images of Lord Jagannath of Puri with brother Baladadra and sister Subhadara from main temple to Gundicha Temple, where they remain for nine days. The vast wooden chariots carrying the three deities pulled by hundreds and thousands of devotes present a spectacular scene. The yatra (Journey) begins on the second day of the lunar month (Asadha).
Raja Parba: June / JulyThis typically agrarian festival marks the beginning of the monsoon in Odisha. This is three days festival (Pahili Raja, Raja Sankrani and Sesa Raja). Young girls dressed up as new brides in best clothes, jewellery and accessories can be seen eating poda pithas (traditional cake), chewing special paan (petal) and riding the swings and sing. It is treated as Mother Earth (symbolizing woman hood) is supposed to be undergoing the menstruation cycle as any female. Hindus believe it to be the period of fertility. During these three days al agricultural operations remain suspended and the singing, feasting and playing games and cards occupies the men. On the fourth day (Basumati Puja), the earth considered ready for fertilization is ceremonially ploughed to mark the end of the festival.
Durga Puja: September / OctoberDurga puja (Dussera) is the annual nine days festival keeps the tradition of worshipping goddess Durga alive with vigour and devotion. Huge pandals are set-up housing the idols of goddess Durga. The day after Dussehra festival marks the end of the puja festivities. The deities being carried in splendid procession with attractive backdrops and the huge flags of different hues and the frenzied crowds dancing to the beat of drums and music are a treat to watch. After bidding adieu to Durga the city gets ready to welcome Lakshmi and colourful pandals are constructed to attract both devotees and revelers.
Bali Yatra: November /DecemberThe successive kingdoms in Odisha had rich maritime trade with links to Bali, Java and Sumatra, with which came the cultural influences; reflected in the art of silver filigree work of Cuttack. To commemorate these old time links, a festival called Bali Yatra is held on the banks of the River Mahanadi in Cuttack during the full moon of kartik (November / December). It is a treat to witness tiny boats made of banana bark and lit with clay lamps floating in the Mahanadi.
Dhanu Yatra: December / JanuaryThe Bargarh town in the western Odisha comes alive during this colourful festival. Dhanu Yatra relates to the mythological episode of Lord Krishna's visit to Mathura to witness the 'Bow' ceremony organized by King Kansa. The town of Baragarh becomes Mathura and the village Amapalli across Jira represents Gopa. Thousands assemble daily for 7-10 days to watch artists performing different acts inspired from puranic descriptions with great reverence.
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