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This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding reliable references. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2011) This article lists the traditional festivals in the Orissa region. Contents 1 Ratha Yatra (Chariot Festival) 2 TaraTarini Mela 2.1 Chaitra Parba/Chaitra Mela/Taratarini Mela 2.2 Maa Tara Tarini Hill Shrine 2.3 The Deities 3 Sitalshashti 4 Gamha Purnima 5 Janmashtami & Nanda utsav 6 Ganesh Puja & Nuakhai 7 Sudasha Brata 8 Panchuka Purnima 9 Naga Chaturthi 10 Hingula Jatra 10.1 Legend 10.2 The Celebration 10.3 Various Types of Patuas 10.4 Jhamu Yatra 11 Garbhana Sankranti 12 Viswakarma Puja 13 Durga Puja (Odisha_dussehra) 14 Chitalagi or Chitou Amavasya 15 Baseli Puja 16 Apara Paksha 17 Lakshmi Puja 18 Deepavali 19 Bali Yatra 20 Prathamastami 21 Saraswati Puja 22 Dhanu Yatra 23 Makaramela 24 Manabasa Gurubar 25 Raja Parva 26 Other festivals 26.1 Puri Beach Festival 26.2 Konark Dance Festival 26.3 Kalinga Mahotsav 26.4 Rajarani Music Festival 26.5 Ekamra Utsav 26.6 Dhauli Mahotsav 27 External links Ratha Yatra (Chariot Festival) The most famous Orissan festival is the Rath Yatra or Car Festival (June–July) which attracts pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. On the full moon day of the month of Jyestha known as Snana Yatra, the idols of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and sudarshana chakra are brought out and bathed on a pendal known as the SnanaMandap according to religious rites. Then they are believed to become indisposed and are confined to a solitary abode for a fortnight where they undergo 'treatment', are offered special ayurvedic medicine boli and some special liquid diet called 'sarapana'. After a rest of fifteen days, on the second day of the lunar month, Ashadha shukla Dvitiya the three Lords 'come out' in huge chariots to 'meet' the waiting devotees, marking the start of the Grand Festival known as 'Ratha Yatra'. Among a series of rituals, of special mention is the 'sweeping' of the chariots by the Gajapati Maharaja of Puri with a golden broom, to proclaim that he is the first of the Lord's servants and on this particular day he performs the duty of a scavenger to demonstrate socialism in action and the dignity of labour. (Legend has it that King Purushottama Deva, Surya-Banshi King of Medieval Orissa, had to once 'suffer' because of this 'sweeper act', when he was denied princess Padmavati by her father.) The grand Chariots are pulled by thousands of people, irrespective of caste, creed and even religion, to proclaim their universality and accessibility to humanity at large. The deities then go to GundichaGhara (MaausiMaa Mandir) where they remain for eight days, after which Bahuda Yatra (the return car festival) takes place and the Lords return to their abode at ShreeMandir. TaraTarini Mela The 'Taratarini Mela' one of India's biggest fairs, takes place on each Tuesday of the month of Chaitra i.e. from around mid-March to mid-April at the holy Taratarini Pitha – 30 km (19 mi) from Berhampur. A grand congregation takes place on the 3rd Tuesday. Chaitra Parba/Chaitra Mela/Taratarini Mela This festival Chaitra Parba / Chaitra Mela is the most important of the festivals, celebrated at the Tara Tarini Hill Shrine (Kalyan Dham). It is observed during each Tuesday of the month of Chaitra i.e. during March/April as per Calendar. Significant features of the festival are as follows; (a) On Tuesday the temple remains open for the Darshan of the deities from 1.00 AM (mid-night on Monday) till 11 PM (of Tuesday). During that period Pahada of the deities is confined to night-time only. (b) Devotees in large numbers congregate at the up-hill and downhill temple complex from Monday night. (c) 2nd & 3rd Tuesday of the Chaitra is considered to be most auspicious days. Therefore large number of devotees ( Around 5-7 lakhs) congregate during these days. (d) Puja and offering by the devotees are offered to the Chalanti Pratima of deities placed at the Bije Pitha for the Bije Pratima. However Darshan of the deities in Garbha Griha (Sanctum of the main temple) is allowed. (e) Special arrangements for hair offering are made. 250 barbers at the hill top and more than 500 barbers at the down hill (Foot Hill) at the barber shed are engaged to help their hair offering of their children and other devotees. Hair offering continues from mid-night on Monday till 6 PM of Tuesday. (f) Special Khechidi Bhoga (Fried Rice) is supplied to the devotees on receipt of Rs. 7/- per packet from Monday mid-night till 6 PM of Tuesday evening non-stop. (g) About 20 lakh devotees and tourists visited this holy shrine during this month. Maa Tara Tarini Hill Shrine Tara Tarini Sthana Peeth is situated on the holy Tara Tirini hill/Purnagiri at a distance of 30 km. from Berhampur City, in the state of Orissa, India. The Twin Goddesses Tara and Tarini are worshiped as manifestations of Adi Shakti. The Taratarini Hill Shrine is one of the oldest pilgrimage centers of Mother Goddess and is one amongst the four major ancient Shakti Pithas in India. The Mythological Texts recognize four major Shakti Peethas (centers) like Bimala, Tara Tarini (Orissa), Kamakshi (Assam) and Dakhina Kalika (West Bengal, Kolkata) among the 4 Adi Shakti Peeths and apart from these there are other 52 sacred Shakti Peethas, which originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati in the Satya Yuga. 4- Adi Shakti Peethas The great religious texts like the Shiva Purana, the Kalika Purana, the Devi Bhagabat and the AstaShakti recognize four major Shakti Peethas(centers), like Bimala (Pada Khanda), Tara Tarini (Stana Khanda,Breasts)(Near Berhampur,Orissa), Kamakshi (Yoni khanda)(Near Gowhati, Assam) and Dakhina Kalika (Mukha khanda)(Kolkata, West Bengal) originated from the limbs of the Corpse of Mata Sati . The Astashakti and Kalika Purana clearly says (IN SANSKRIT): "Bimala Pada khandancha, 'Sthana khandancha Tarini (Tara Tarini),'Kamakshya Yoni khandancha, 'Mukha khandancha Kalika (Dakshina Kalika)Anga pratyanga sanghena 'Vishnu Chakra Kshyta nacha".' Further explaining the importance of these four Peethas the Brihat Samhita also gives the geographical location of these Peethas. For Example: "Rushikulya**Tatae Devi, Tarakashya Mahagiri, Tashya Srunga Stitha Tara, Vasishta rajitapara'."' (**Rushikulya: A famous River flowing on the foot hill of the Tara Tarini Hill Shrine). So, there is absolutely no dispute regarding these four famous Adi Peethas. Apart from these four there are 52 other famous Peethas recognised by religious Texts. According to the Pithanirnaya Tantra the 52 peethas are scattered all over India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet and Pakistan. The Shivacharita besides listing 52 maha-peethas, speaks about 26 more upa-peethas. The Bengali almanac, Vishuddha Siddhanta Panjika too describes the 52 peethas including the present modified addresses. The Deities Two stones anthropomorphized by the addition of gold and silver ornaments and shaped as human faces represent the Goddesses Tara and Tarini as the deities of this temple. Between them are placed two beautiful brass heads known as their Chalanti Pratima or their Living Image. Sitalshashti A grand marriage ceremony of lord Shiva &Parvati takes place in almost all shiva temples,in jyaistha shuddha panchami, and the procession is carried out on shashti day.Western orissa enjoys the Sitalsasthi up to the fullest.It is called so as to mark the end of hot summer season Gamha Purnima Called as Raksha Bandhan,sisters tie rakhi to their brothers,farmers worship cows , Utkala Brahmins do Upakarma and moreover its the birthday of god Balaram.In Orissan Jagannath culture, the lord Krishna & Radha enjoy the beautiful rainy season of Shravana starting from Shukla Pakshya Ekadashi (usually 4 days before Purnima)and ending in purnima. Janmashtami & Nanda utsav Janmashtami is celebrated in month of bhadrapad as oriya people's beloved god Jagannath orKrishna's birthday. Ganesh Puja & Nuakhai Ganesh Chaturthi Observed in most parts on bhadrapada Shukla chaturthi.The day following chaturthi,called Nuakhai in western orissa as people partake in eating newly harvested paddy.State government declares two day holiday across the state. Sudasha Brata Sudasa Brata, is a unique festival of Odisha among the women who take a vow for the well being of their family. It is observed whenever there is a combination of (1) Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon), (2) Thursday and (3) Dasami. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during the day by offering 10 Manda Pithas in puja (see Odia Foods page for recipe of Manda Pitha). A sacred thread (consisting of ten layers of thread) is prepared in the prescribed manner and tied by women on their arms until the arrival next occasion of Sudasha Brata (when the thread is replaced again). Panchuka Purnima Panchuka Purnima is a sacred festival of Odisha and is celebrated in the month of Kartik. It is a practice among Odias to give up non-vegetarian food such as fish, meat and egg during the entire month of Kartik. However, those who are not in a position to abstain from non-vegetarian foods during the entire month, have the option to give it up for five days beginning from Panchuka. There is a popular proverb in Odia which says that even the fish-hunting bird crane does not touch fish during these five days. Naga Chaturthi Naga Chaturthi Osha is a fasting observed by women in Odisha and is held on the 14th day of the bright fortnight of Kartik (September–October). This fast is mainly observed by women to protect the family members from snake bite. Lord Pingala, the serpent god, is worshipped in the form of a snake image. The image is made of gold, silver or of rice paste close to an ant-hill. The snake deity’s blessings are sought for the welfare of their families and children. Naga Chaturthi is one of the major festivals of Odisha. According to the myth, a merchant's wife had betrayed the trust of her 'Sangata' and also the serpent Mother Goddess (Naga Mata). All her six sons died of snake bite. The seventh son was married to a princess, who had faithfully observed this fast and she had been blessed by the Naga Mata to be 'Aisulakshani' or the virtuous wife whose husband would not die before she died. Therefore though her husband was accursed and was bitten to death, he was restored to life along with six elder brothers. Hingula Jatra Hingula Jatra is associated with the worship of ‘Shakti’ or Shiva on the day of Visubha Sankranti. It is believed to have germinated from the mass religious culture of the people under the spell of Tantrism in the remote past. Legend There is a well-linked belief among the local people that on this day of "Visuba Sankranti" Goddess 'Hingula' appears and removes all evil force. She is worshipped in the village street on her imaginary stride to the village. Offering to her include spitted new cloth, 'Pana' (sweet-water), butter lamp and raw mangoes. The Celebration This festival of Odisha is celebrated with much austreity in the villages. Those who observe fasting, especially women are called 'Osati'. Prior to the day of worship the fasting worshippers (mostly men) move from village to village with the sacred-pitcher symbolizing the Goddess. This religious procession is accompanied by singing and dancing by devotees. These worshippers are called 'Patuas'. The man who dances with the holy-pitcher on his head wears a black skirt, a red blouse and a long piece of black cloth tightly covering the head and having equal length on both sides to flow. While dancing, the Patua holds the ends of the cloth and moves them artistically with stretched arms in perfect harmony to the rhythmic pattern. Sometimes he dances on the stilts and performs difficult 'Yogasanas' balancing on the head, the staff that holds the holy-pitcher (Ghata). A big brass bell played with a cane-stick provides various peculiar rhythms. Sometimes country drums are also played. Various Types of Patuas The Chief of the Patuas is called 'Bada-Patua' or 'Katha Patua'. All the Patuas observe fasting on this day. In the afternoon they assemble near a tank or river where all the rituals take place. The priest performing the rites is always a non-Brahmin known as 'Jadua' or 'Dehuri'. Men, women and children of the villages congregate in mass to glimpse this event. The surrounding reverberates with auspicious 'Hulahuli' (a shrill sound made by wagging the tongue inside the mouth) and 'Hari Bol' cheers of men. Then, sharp iron hooks are pierced through the skins on the back of the Patuas. During this ceremony the morale of the Patuas is boosted through holy cheers of the onlookers and they themselves loudly continue singing in praise of "Hingula" or "Mangala". Jhamu Yatra In some areas "Jhamu Yatra" is organised. Persons observing 'Brata' or vow in honor of the deity walk on thorns and on the bed of live charcoal amidst holy cheers and loud drumming. Those who walk on fire are known as 'Nian Patua' ('Nian' for fire) and those on thorns are called 'Kanta Patua' ('Kanta' for thorn). Some worshippers stand on edged swords and are carried on open palanquins. They are called 'Khanda Patua' ('Khanda' for sword). Some of them show some feats in deep water. They are called 'Pani Patuas' ('Pani' for water). Especially all these festivals are celebrated on a Shiva or Shakti Shrine. Therefore, scholars are of opinion that these rituals, of inflicting injury to the persons by the devotees are related to the Tantra culture. By doing these they try to draw the kind attention of the God or Goddess whom they seek to propitiate. Garbhana Sankranti Garbhana Sankranti is a festival, unique to Odisha, and is celebrated on the first day of the solar month of Kartika, on the same day as Mahashtami. This day is like a day of milestone achievement for farmers. Rice plants are now with ears of corn in their womb. This is compared to pregnancy of a woman and hence the name 'Garbhana' (meaning pregnant). These pregnant rice plants represent Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth and fertility and are worshipped with offerings in the paddy fields. It is believed that a huge quantity of corn would be harvested as a result of this display of respect to the paddy crops. The practice is also believed to lessen the effect of famine or flood on the agricultural field and the crops are protected from pests and insects. Dhana (Wheat grains) and Kara Branches (a medicinal plant with anti insecticidal properties) are offered in worship and taken to the agricultural field for plantation. Different kind of dishes are prepared to satisfy the Goddess Laxmi. All the members of the family take meals to their heart's content believing that they will thus always be supplied with dainty dishes. Also known as Tula Sankranti,this is an important festival of Odisha. Viswakarma Puja The Hindu mythology crowns “Lord Vishwakarma” as the presiding deity of Architecture and Engineering. As a mark of reverence, he is still worshipped by the engineering community, industrial houses, artists, craftsmen, and weavers. He is regarded as the supreme worker, the very essence of excellence and quality in craftsmanship. Vishwakarma revealed the sciences of industry to man and is thus the patron god of all the workers and engineers providing them with courage and inspiration. All over the country factories, workshops and manufacturing units are in festive mood. Shop spaces are cleared to make way for the deity. The Lord on the back of his appurtenance (bahana), the elephant, holds in his four hands, a water-pot, the Vedas, a noose and craftsman's tools. Rituals are followed by the distribution of "prasad". The yearly feast is cooked, where the workmen and the owners lunch together. Throughout the day colorful kites are flown. The sky fills up with all shades and colors. Workers at many places make resolutions to perform better from this auspicious day. One of the important festivals of Orissa, Vishwakarma Puja is marked with usual gaiety. All the industrial places, shops that engage small or heavy machineries and owners vehicles aptly summon the Lord Vishwakarma, thanking Him for His grace and seeking his blessing in smooth running of their machineries. Pandals come up in busy streets and Prasads are distributed to the devotees. Durga Puja (Odisha_dussehra) Main article: Durga Puja in Orissa Durga Puja symbolises the commemoration of good over evil. It is celebrated with great pomp and gaiety by Oriyas and Bengalis residing in Orissa. Durga Puja is celebrated in every town and city of Orissa.But mainly the celebration takes place in Cuttack, Berhampur,Bhubaneswar, Raurkela,Sambalpur, Baleswar and Jeypore. The three major Pujas of the state are the Chandi medha ("Chandi" means Silver) of Cuttack, Shahid Nagar's Durga Puja and Nayapalli's Durga Puja. Life comes to a stand-still in the city of Cuttack, Berhampur, Raurkela and Bhubaneswar as crowds pour into the Puja Mandaps to enjoy the festivities. On the day succeeding 'Vijaya Dasami', the last day of Dussera, the images are taken in a spectacular procession for immersion. Chitalagi or Chitou Amavasya Lord Jagannath is the presiding deity of Odisha and many festivals ascribed to Him are also devotionally followed in Odia households. Chitalagi or Chitaou Amavasya is one such festival of Odisha which falls on the new-moon day of the Sravana (August). On this day, in the temple of Jagannath, the deity bears a golden mark (Chita) on the forehead. A special variety of rice-cake known as ‘Chitou Pitha’ is given to the deity as food-offering. This variety is also prepared in every household of the Odias of the coastal districts. In rural areas this is more or less observed as an agricultural festival. On this occasion the farmers worship the paddy-fields. After a purificatory bath in the morning, they go to their respective paddy-fields with cake, flowers, milk etc. and pray the fields to yield a good crop. It is in the primitive tradition to appease evil powers through worship whether they are animals, serpents, insects or plants. People worship and pray them to avoid their wrath. Pilas (snails) breed enormously in the paddy-fields and tanks during the rainy season. Farmers while working bare-footed in the fields often get their feet cut by the sharp edge of their shells. Therefore, during the festival the pilas is appeased as a female form of evil power known as 'Gandeisuni' (Genda is pila). The farmer girls go to the fields and while offering cakes pray. "Oh; Gandeisuni, be appeased and do not cut the legs of my father or brother". In Sambalpur, this festival is known as 'Harali kans'. People of the areas believe it to be a day of the witch, Tandei who moves in the dark to suck the blood of the children. To save children from her wrath mothers draw peculiar designs below the naval zone of the children before the night falls. As they believe that would scare away witch, a common variety of rice-cake Chakuli Pitha is offered to the witch to be appeased and thereafter the cake is taken by all. Baseli Puja Baseli Puja is also known as Chaiti Ghoda. In the month of Chaitra there is an exclusive festival for the bona fide fishermen community of Odisha who are popularly known as "Keuta" ('Kaivarta'). This festival is held for a full month beginning from Chaitra Praba (Full moon of Chaitra in March) and ending with Baisakh Purnima (Full moon in April). During this festival of Odisha, Baseli, the horse-headed deity of the community is propitiated. She is considered to be the tutelary deity of the community. She is considered as a form of Mother Goddess who was earlier formless. Later she took various forms according to the conception and needs of the various communities living all over the country. Inexplicably connected with the festival is the Dummy-Horse dance of the community. On the auspicious day of Chaitra Purnami, the Kaibartas worship a Bamboo with vermillion, candle-paste, butter-lamp etc. Then the bamboo is split ceremonially into pieces out of which only twelve are taken out for preparation of the frame of the dummy-horse. The frame is dyed red with red clay and then covered with a 'Pata' (indigenous silk cloth). Then a painted horse-head made out of wood is fixed to the frame. A garland of 'Mandara' (Hibiscus) flowers is placed on the neck during worship. This particular garland is always intended for mother goddess. This dummy-horse is worshipped till the eighth day of the dark fortnight after which it is taken out for dance. A man enters the cavity and hangs the frame on the shoulders and then dances to the rhythm of 'Dhol' (country drum). 'Mahuri' is the only wind instrument played during the dance. Songs are sung intermittently in votive dedication to the deity. Sometimes the dancer gets possessed and falls in to trance. Then somebody else replaces him. Two other characters "Chadhua-Chadhuani" or "Rauta-Rautani" also sing and dance. The male character dances with a long staff in his hand symbolizing the profession of fishermen's rowing of boats. The female character is played by a man. Both of them sing songs of love and daily household chores. Then a song combat ensues which lasts for the whole night. During this portion of the dance the dummy horse is ceremonially placed in the centre and the performance is held in front of it, people sitting all around. The dummy-horse dance is mainly prevalent in the coastal districts of Cuttack and Puri. In Puri the dummy-horses are profusely decorated with flowers and the 'Tahia' (Archaic head-gear of flowers) presents a magnificent show during dance. When the festival ends the horse-head is taken out ceremonially from the frame and is preserved in a temple. Next year during the festival it is again brought out and repainted for the ceremony. Apara Paksha Apara Ekadasi fasting is observed during the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in the month of Jyeshtha (May – June).It marks the beginning of a period of 15 days to perform shraddha for paying tributes to one’s departed ancestors. It is performed wishing peaceful stay of the departed ones in heaven. Apara Paksha Ekadasi is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is observed on the 11th day of waning and waxing phase of moon in a traditional Hindu calendar. It is believed that observing Apara Ekadasi redeems sin and leads to Moksha (Liberation). All the usual rules associated with Ekadasi fasting is observed on this day. Those who observe partial fast avoid rice on this day. Apara Ekadasi fastings are one of the major festivals of Odisha. Lakshmi Puja Observed with much pomp and ceremony in Dhenkanal, Kendrapara areas, it commences from the fullmoon day of Ashwin or Kumar Purnima and continues for a period of one week. Deepavali Deepavali is celebrated for one day unlike two/three days by people of north and western India.Firecrackers and lighting of lamps are common things.Some people also worship goddess Kali. Tarpanam is done in the early morning of deepavali.Speciality of this day is people in this day do payaa Shraaddha in the dusk or sunset time.One can see people showing lamps and fire to sky to say goodbye to their forefathers who all came during mahalaya amavasya. A lot of Pithas are prepared and offered to gods and forefathers. Bali Yatra Main article: Bali Jatra Bali Jatra Festival in Orissa marks the culmination of all the religious festivities held in the end of the month of Kartik, which is considered the most auspicious month in a calendar year. Held on the full moon day in November - December that is celebrated all over Orissa as Kartik Purnima, Bali Jatra commemorates Orissa's ancient maritime legacy. Kartik Purnima was considered the most auspicious day by the traders (Sadhabas) of Orissa to venture in their huge boats called Boitas, on journeys to distant lands like the islands of Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Tourism of Orissa offers tours to Orissa during the Bali Yatra fair and festival so that you can get a glimpse of Orissa's rich cultural history and colorfully vibrant present on your tour of Festivals in Orissa. Bali Yatra is a hugely popular fair held on the banks of Mahanadi River in the fort area of Cuttack city as well at the seashore at Paradeep. To celebrate the glory of the ancient times, the people in Cuttack as well as in the rest of Orissa float small boats made of cork, colored paper and banana tree barks in the river and water tanks. The ritual of launching tiny paper boats lit by lamps placed within its hollow is known as Boita Bandana. Prathamastami Main article: Prathamastami Prathamastami is a rite is held for the life and prosperity of the eldest child who is offered a lighted lamp ovation by the senior Female relatives followed by elaborate rituals during which the Mantras are recited.Falls on the dark half eighth day(Ashtami) of the month of Margashirsha Worship to Ganesha and Family deity is done.The main delicacy of the day is Enduri Pitha. Saraswati Puja Saraswati, who is the patron goddess of learning and arts in Hinduism is worshipped all over India especially in Orissa in Magha shukla panchami or Sripanchami.(January/February), also called Vasant Panchami. Dhanu Yatra Main article: Dhanu Jatra Dhanu Yatra relating to the episode of Lord Krishna's visit to Mathura is colourfully observed at Bargarh a western Orissa District. Observed for 11 days preceding Pausha Poornima - the full moon day of Pausha in December–January, this is the spectacular Dhanuyatra of Bargarh in the western part of Orissa, about 350 km (217 mi) from Bhubaneswar. Dhanuyatra is the theatrical presentation of Krishna Leela of Devaki with Vashudev till the death of Kansa as described in the scriptures. The entire episode is reenacted. The town of Bargarh becomes Mathura, the river Jira becomes Yamuna, and village Ambapalli on other bank of river becomes Gopa. A mango grove there serves as "Vrindaban" and a pond, as lake "Kalindi". A gorgeously decorated stage is erected in the heart of Bargarh to serve as the Durbar of Kansa. An elephant is engaged for the royal transport. The origins of the Dhanu yatra at Bargarh are unclear, but it has been organized since 1948 annually. Makaramela Makar Sankranti is celebrated with gusto in mid-January when the Sun enters the orbit of capricon. The sun god is worshipped with great fervour and enthusiasm by one and all. The festival can be best enjoyed at Kalijai (an island in Chilika), Atri, Ghatgaon, Keonjhar, Jashipur and Jagatsinghpur. Manabasa Gurubar On every Thursday in the Oriya month of Margasir goddess Lakshmi is worshiped with utmost devotion by Oriya women. They wake up very early in the morning and clean the house with broom-sticks, for it is believed that goddess Lakshmi would never visit the house if the house in dirty and untidy. The entrance as well as the door step of the house is decorated with artistic Orissan alpana (called chita). a pot made of bamboo canes used in the olden days for measuring paddy (known as mana) is filled up to the brink with freshly harvested paddy. It is believed that goddess Lakshmi visits every house hold during the puja. It is a custom to read out the Mahalaxmi Puran written by ancient poet Balaram Das while performing the puja. Makar Sankranti and Vishuva Sankranti are observed to celebrate the advent of Spring and the New Year respectively according to the Indian almanac respectively. Vishuva Sankranti or Mesha Sankranti is the traditional Oriya New Year and generally falls on April 14 each year. It coincides with the traditional New Year in Assam, Bengal, Kerala, Manipur, Nepal and Tamil Nadu - in short the solar Hindu New Year. Another major festival is Akshaya Tritiya marking the beginning of agricultural activity and trade.Observed in the month of Vaishakha The festivals of the Adivasis are a part and parcel of their social life. Their folk tradition and spirit are manifested through the numerous Vratas and Oshas, observed by the Hindus, the former having the authority of the scriptures and the latter being the product of social beliefs and practices, especially those observed by the women folk for the welfare and prosperity of their near and dear ones, for begetting sons, wishing long life of their children, recovery of their Own selves and their near and dear ones from ailments and obtaining salvation. They are associated with the performance of rituals and recitation of a sacred verse tale connected with the occasion, usually elaborating the benefits accruing from the observance of the rites and punishments from the failure to do so. Most of these observances are marked by a spirit of sanctity even among the poorest folk. They clean up the premises and decorate their houses, particularly the spot of worship, with flowers, and draw in rice paste or multi-coloured powders, artistic designs on the floor and walls. Many of these festivals are held on the full moon and new moon days thereby confirming the belief in the planets and stars as forces influencing human life. The priests do not play a part in the Vratas and Oshas; these are usually celebrated under the supervision and direction of women, which testifies to the simplicity, easy belief and tenderness characterising the folk or communal spirit. They help in augmenting the religious or spiritual life of the people enabling them to resist the temptations of the worldly spirit or materialistic way of life. The important Oshas are Jahni Osha, Bodhivamana Osha, Dutia Osha, Sasthi Osha, Khudurukuni Osha, Puajiuntia Osha, Kharkhari Osha, Dhananlanika Osha, Bhaijuntia, Nishamangalavarta Oshat and Kanjianala Osha. The important Vratas are: Sudasa Vrata, Vinayaka Vrata, Rabinarayan Vrata, Samba Dashami Vrata, Somanath Vrata, Savitri Vrata, Nagarchuuthi and Ananta Vrata. Among them Puajuntia and Bhnijiolltia are observed: in the western region, Kharkhari in the southern region. Khudurukuni Osha which is observed by unmarried girls on the Sundays of the month of Bhadrab for the welfare of their brothers is observed in the coastal districts. Another Oriya Osha is Prathamastami the eighth day of the month of Margasira on which a rite is held for the life and prosperity of the eldest child who is offered a lighted lamp ovation by the senior Female relatives followed by elaborate rituals during which the Glory of Mahalakshmi and Ganesha is recited. Raja Parva Main article: Raja Parva Raja is another special Oriya festival celebrated by girls. It is observed for three consecutive days from the day preceding Mithuna Sankrati (similar to Ambubachi Mela of Assam) to the two day following it during which Mother Earth is supposed to be in her menstrual period; it is thus a fertility rite. The girls decked in their sartorial best sway in swings and pray to Mother Earth for their welfare. It is one of the moat memorable festivals of rural Orissa along with Kumara Purnima which is held on the full-moon night of the month of Aswin, soon after Durga Puja. The latter is also celebrated by girls for the well-being of their brothers and for obtaining handsome husbands. Like Makar Sankranti which is observed by the Adivasis and the non-tribal Hindus alike though in different styles, Chaitra Parva (Chait Parab) is a popular folk festival observed all over Orissa. In western Orissa, the festival held in honour of Lord Siva is called Dandayatra. It is associated with a dance called dandanata commissioned by a household person with a wish, especially for a child. A group of 13 persons, led by their chief called pata bhoku, holding a danda or stick perform the dance. The stick symbolises Lord Siva as Ladudeswara (stick-shaped god). In the coastal region the festival held in honour of either Siva or Sakti is known as Jhamuyatra in which devotees perform penance like walking on fire or a bed of thorns. Other festivals Puri Beach Festival The Puri Beach Festival is conducted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Orissa (HRAO), and is co-sponsored by the Indian Ministry of Tourism, the government of Orissa, the Development Commissioner of Handicrafts and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center of Calcutta. The festival was started by Mr. K. Singh. Hotels of Puri including the Classified Hotels such as Toshali sands, Mayfair, and Hanscoco of Puri are involved in the Festival. Konark Dance Festival Described as a poem in stone, the Sun temple at Konarak is the crowning glory of the temple architecture of Orissa. As a fitting tribute to the majestic monument, eminent classical dancers of India get together during the Konark Festival every year from 1 to 5 December to present live performances of their art. When the sun sets in the horizon and the stars appear in the sky, the open-air auditorium against the backdrop of the floodlit temple reverberates with the beats of Raga and Tala to fill the air. The classical extravaganza is a journey through ecstasy. Konark Dance Festival is held in December in the beautiful backdrop of the Sun temples in Konark, Orissa. The exquisite 'Salamander' or the 'dancing hall' of this shrine is an architectural wonder. Every inch of its walls have been covered with fine artistic designs of the ancient times. Musicians playing drums, cymbals and other musical instruments adorn the sculptures in Odissi dance poses. Kalinga Mahotsav Kalinga Mahotsav, the two days long martial dance festival of Orissa is organized every year in the month of February at the Vishwa Shanti Stupa or the Peace Pagoda, the place where the Kalinga war is believed to have been fought. Owing to its historical significance the festival is celebrated with the aim to encourage people to follow the path of peace and calm, rather than fighting amongst themselves. Organized by Art Vision, in collaboration with Orissa Tourism and Nalco, it is a two day long annual festive occasion that showcases martial dance forms of the country. During its celebrations, you get to see the live performances of distinctive martial dance forms of the country. Popular martial dance forms performed here include Thang Ta of Manipur, Kalaripayattu of Kerala and Chhau and Paika of Orissa. The Martial dancers interpret incredible postures of aggression, self-defense and escape in graceful dance-forms with their swords, spears and shields. The calm and solemn statue of Buddha overlooking the entire stage from the top of the Stupa and the tranquil expanse of the countryside populated by paddy fields and cashew plantations provides the peaceful background to the outburst of movements and sounds which accompany the performance of the martial artists. Rajarani Music Festival Rajarani Music Festival held against the backdrop of the 11th century Rajarani Temple in Bhubaneswar is organized by the Department of Tourism, Orissa in collaboration with other organizations like Bhubaneswar Music Circle, Orissa Sangeet Natak Academy, NALCO and the Union Ministry of Tourism. The temple which is famous for its ornate deula or compass and the statues of eight Dipalakas guarding the eight directions, sets the right stage for hosting the great musical gala. This festival of Orissa festival aims at showcasing the glorious tradition of Indian Classical music. Rajarani Music Festival is characterized by awesome performances by the connoisseurs of Indian classical music. The musical performances that are held here resemble the settings resemble the Darbari Gayans (musical performances in the court of a king). Eminent personalities, consisting of instrumentalists and vocalists, participate enthusiastically in this festival and every year, they give fantastic performances. The festival has been attracting not just the locals, but also tourists. Eminent instrumentalists and vocalists of India have rendered scintillating performance in this festival over the years. The festival has been an attraction not only to the music lovers but also to the tourists in general. Ekamra Utsav Ekamra Utsav is a ten day long festivity that usually takes place in the Bhubaneswar, capital city of Orissa. The festival of Orissa is basically dedicated to Lord Shiva and aims at promoting the cultural heritage of the state. Ekamra Utsav has derived its name from the word ‘Ekamra’ meaning ‘Mango Garden’. There is a myth associated with the initiation of this festival. It is said that Lord Siva was searching for a secluded place, where he could go and meditate. On the advice of Lord Narada, he went to the Ekamra Kanan (forest) of India and began meditating. It is at this place that he got settled as Lord Lingaraj, along with His consort, Goddess Parvati. The forest was called Ekamra Kanan (forest), owing to its extensive vegetation of mango trees. Ekamra Utsav is actually a multi disciplinary event comprising of the National Handloom Exhibition (consisting of fabrics gathered from the famous textile centers of Orissa). A lively downtown festival in early January, Ekamra Utsav is a life-time experience for the vacationers. The highlight of the festivities is Mukteswar Dance Festival held on the courtyards of this famed temple where the eminent exponents of Odissi dance enliven the stage with their magical performances. Besides the dance performances, the visitors to Ekamra Utsav are treated to an expo of traditional art and craft, a flower show, a multicultural food court, a heritage walk and the attractive discounts offered by the leading shopping centers to the tourists, complement the mood of the festival . A Half Marathon, the biggest ever in the State, traversing through important intersections of the city adds spice to the Utsav. Ekamra Utsav Highlights: Mukteswar Dance Festival : Mukteswar Temple Complex National Handloom : Exhibition Ground National Handicraft Expo : Exhibition Ground International Food Festival : Exhibition Ground Folk Dance Festival : Exhibition Ground Flower Show at Regional Plant Resource Centre Walking Tours of Heritage Corridors near Mukteswar Complex Laxmaneswar Shopping Festival Half Marathon Dhauli Mahotsav Dhauli Mahotsav is celebrated in the foothill of the Dhauli ranges every year and showcases a wide range of rural art and culture from classical to folk items such as Odissi dance, Odissi vocal, Mardal recital, Chhau dance, Daskathia, Pala, Yajna, Sankirtan, etc. The festival of orissa is organized by the Orissa Dance Academy with an aim to create an awareness of our cultural heritage among the people of Orissa. Near about 500 artistes from different disciplines perform on the different days of the Mahotsav. Artists from different region of the state perform Odissi dance, Gotipua dance, Chhau dance, Shankirtan, Pala, Odissi Vocal and other folk and tribal dance & music of Orissa.The festival has been widely accepted among the lovers of music and dances. External links Calendar of Oriya festivals in 2011 at Oriya Books for festivals (Manabasa, Sabitri etc) available in [1]