Festivals of Odisha: Odisha being a Hindu majority state has two kinds of festivals: the first kind which Hindus across India as a whole celebrate, and the second kind which is unique and specific to the state while falling under the broad ambit of Hinduism. So while Odisha celebrates popular-across-India festivals like Holi, Diwali, Rakhi, Durga Puja, and other Hindu festivals, it also has its own unique festivals like Ratha Yatra, Chandan Yatra, Mahabisuva Sankranti, Raja Parba, Magha Saptami, Makar Mela, and many more.
Let us take a look at these famous festivals of Odisha.
The Ratha Yatra is a congregation of millions of devotees of Lord Jagannath who wish to see the Lord from close quarters during his annual journey to his Aunt’s home, the Gundicha temple. Rife with traditions, rituals, and customs, the exciting journey of Lord Jagannath and his siblings lasts for around 10 days, during which devotees throng to the Pilgrim Town Puri for a glimpse of the Lord of the Universe.
The Chandan Yatra or the Gandhalepana Yatra is the longest festival of Orissa which is celebrated at Jagannath temple at Puri. The 42-day long festival is observed by worshipping the deities with sandal mixed water. The deities are taken out of the temple for a holy patron in water in the traditional boats called ‘Chapa’. The boats are beautifully decorated generally in red and white colors and resemble a swan floating in the water. The festival is concluded at the Vishnu or Shiva temples in Puri. Many pilgrims gather to take part in the celebration of this great festival of Odisha.
Mahabisuva Sankranti is the new year as per the Odia Calendar which falls in the month of April. The festival, also known as Pana Sankranti, is considered very auspicious for farming and agricultural activities. Pana – a drink made from Misri and water is hung over the Tulsi plant to represent the rain. Special offerings are made to Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, and Lord Hanuman. Devotees visit Devi temples and pray for a great year ahead.
A four-day-long festival that is fondly celebrated all over the state of Odisha, Raja is a festival that celebrates womanhood and the menstrual cycle. It is believed that the Earth (called Basu Mata in Odia) menstruates for 3 days and hence no agricultural activities like tilling, sowing, planting, or construction is carried out during these 4 days. Young girls are pampered during this beloved festival with new clothes, sweets, and gifts.
A very famous and celebrated festival of Konark temple, on Magha Saptami, thousands of people gather on the shores of the Bay of Bengal to offer their prayers to the sea. Devotees take a holy dip in the sea near the Chandrabhaga beach and welcome the rising Sun with prayers. This festival also marks the beginning of a grand fair at Khandagiri in Bhubaneswar, which lasts for a week.
Makar Sankranti is celebrated when the Sun enters the orbit of Capricorn and by this time harvest of new paddy, and sugarcane crops are over. Considered an extremely auspicious day, the people of Orissa offer prayers and food to the Sun God to have a healthy and prosperous life.
Being an agricultural state, Odisha has many festivals revolving around agricultural practices, and prayers are often done for a good harvest and yield. There are many more festivals like the Nuakhai, which is a harvest festival of Western Odisha, the Chatar Jatra, the Chhau Festival, the Kalinga Mahotsava, the Sabitri Osa, the Khudurkuni Osa, and many more which are celebrated with huge pomp and show in the state. Even Durga Puja is a beloved festival, with the state erupting in celebrations and worship for 3 days. All festivals are well celebrated by people and followed with devotion. Every festival is unique and extravagant with its culture and customs, each of them will lure you to be part of the grand celebration!