Culture of Odisha – Explore the Varied and Ancient Heritage of Utkala Region


Culture of Odisha
Onukadelli Tribal Woman, Odisha – Saurabh Chatterjee/Flickr

Odisha is a cultural treasure trove, with ancient monuments, archaeological sites, indigenous arts, sculpture, dance, and music. It is the 8th largest state in terms of land and the 11th largest in terms of people. The state is home to India’s 3rd largest number of Scheduled Tribes. It is bordered on the north by West Bengal and Jharkhand, on the west by Chhattisgarh, on the south by Andhra Pradesh, and on the southwest by Telangana. Along the Bay of Bengal, Odisha has a 485-kilometre (301-mile) coastline. Utkala is another name for the region, which is featured in India’s national song “Jana Gana Mana.” Lets take a deep look in to the culture of Odisha and it’s heritage.

History of Odisha

Culture of Odisha - History
Image- Wikimedia

Odisha’s early history can be traced back to references in ancient literature such as the Mahabharata, Maha Govinda Sutta, and a few Puranas. Due to marine trade links, the region was also known to other kingdoms in the East Indies region. The land’s first occupants belonged to the Sabara tribe, which had its own culture. When the Aryans arrived in Odisha from the northeast, there was initially hostility between the two civilizations, but over time, reciprocal give and take resulted in cultural integration. Odisha is famous for being the birthplace of King Ashoka, who began to practice and preach Buddhism there.

The Sultanate of Bengal’s troops, headed by the iconoclast leader Kalapahad, captured the province in 1568 CE. The region’s political identity was shattered. The region’s subsequent rulers were more like tribute lords than true kings. For over a half-decade after 1751, the Marathas controlled the region. The region was ceded to the British Empire in 1803. The British partitioned the area into sections of various provinces. Odisha was established in 1936 as a province based on the population of Odia-speaking people.

Languageof Odisha

Culture of Odisha - Language
Image- Wikimedia

Oriya is the most widely spoken language in the state and its outlying areas, and it is one of the country’s oldest languages with Sanskritic roots. It is spoken by approximately 84% of Orissa’s population. Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Telugu are commonly spoken and understood. Only a few educated people speak English.

Traditional Dress of Odisha

CTraditional-Dress of Odisha
Image – DFID/Flickr

Women in Odisha wear many varieties of saris, which enhances their natural beauty. Kataki Sari, Sambalpuri Sari and Salwar Kamiz are popular women’s outfits in Odisha. Dhoti is a popular traditional attire for males in Odisha. During the festival and other customary festivals, they also wear Kurta and Gamucha.

Suggested Read – Traditional Dresses of Odisha Reflecting Culture of Odia People

Arts and Crafts of Odisha

Culture of Odisha, Arts and Crafts
Pattachitra – Wikimedia

Tarakasi, Odisha’s most distinctive and finest handcraft, is a type of silver filigree work popular in Cuttack. This highly accomplished art form dates back over 500 years and is expertly performed by local artists.

Pattachitra is a traditional painting based on Hindu mythology that is one of Odisha’s oldest and most popular art forms. Raghurajpur village in Puri is well-known for its artists, and it’s fascinating to note that practically every family has at least one member participating in the art form.

Palm Leaf Painting, also known as Talapatra Chitra in Odisha, is an old style of art. This is regarded as one of the sacred art forms in the state.

Odisha is also known for its sand sculptures. Sand Art is clearly one of the world-famous artworks that can be found in Puri, Odisha. In fact, the state conducts an International Sand Art Festival every year.

The appliqué work is a frequent thing in every dwelling, street, and shop in Pipli, a tiny village located near Puri. In the hamlet itself, visitors may watch the process of creating umbrellas and canopies, as well as see the finished products. Artists weave small mirrors on the applique motifs to make it more eye-catching!

Dokra is a very old style of craft that originated approximately 4500 years ago. It is currently done in many parts of Odisha but the craft is particularly famous in Dhenkanal. Many of its people use the lost wax process to create boxes, sculptures of Gods and Goddesses, and lamps.

Culture of Odisha, Folk Art
Dandasahi Artist’s Village, near Puri, Odisha – Saurabh Chatterjee/Flickr

The black stone sculpting art of Khiching in the Mayurbhanj area, which has a long history and a regal past, is one of the most well-known crafts. Khiching is also recognized for its spectacular temple of Maa Kichakeswari Devi, which attracts a large number of tourists because it is constructed entirely of black stone and is adorned with exquisite decorations that are unique to the state!

Most of Odisha’s arts have received international acclaim, and Papier Mache is one of them. The art involves the use of discarded cloth, natural fibers, and papers and is practiced in practically every region of the state.

Ikat, also known as Bandha, is a textile art form in which patterns are formed by dyeing cotton or silk before weaving the fabric. Though it is available in a variety of locations, Sambalpur is a popular destination for this type of art. While Ikat works may be found all over India, single ikat, double ikat, and a combination ikat of both warp and weft threads are very popular in Odisha.

Architecture of Odisha

Culture of Odisha, Architecture
Sun Temple in Konark – Wikimedia

Culture of Odisha is characterized by a plethora of temples and monuments. These temples are proof of the region’s beautiful architecture. The first monuments were constructed in the third century B.C. The lion capital of an Ashokan pillar, now in the State Museum, and the fragment of an Ashokan pillar, converted into a Shiva Lingam and ensconced in the Bhaskaresvara temple in Bhubaneswar, tell eloquently of Odisha’s previous splendor. The second phase of Odisha art is represented by the rock-cut caves of Khandagiri and Udaygiri, as well as inscriptions documenting Kharavela’s brief but eventful rule in the first century B.C. The Naga and Yaksha images discovered in Bhubaneswar are from the post-Kharavela period. During the seventh to thirteenth centuries A.D., Odisha was at the pinnacle of her creative grandeur, the Temple Architecture in Odisha. The temples of Orissa have a distinct design that has evolved through time to include a more complicated plan, highly ornamental plastic figurines, and higher sikharas.

Image – lensnmatter/Flickr

The Sun Temple in Konark is the crowning achievement of the Orissa style. It is the last phase of temple construction in Orissa. It was constructed in the 13th century A.D. by Narsingha Deva of the Ganga Dynasty. It is known as the Black Pagoda and is dedicated to Surya, the Sun God. It portrays Time – the Sun God moving across the sky, shaped like a Ratha or chariot drawn by seven gorgeously caparisoned horses in motion. The temple’s outer walls are adorned with magnificent sculptures of dancers in various stances, musicians, lions, horses, elephants, and other animals depicting all aspects of life.

Architecture of Odisha Jagannath Temple Puri
Jagannath Temple Puri – Wikimedia

A ruler of the Ganga Dynasty built the Lingaraja temple in the 11th century AD. It has all of the characteristics of an Orissa temple. It has a vimana and a Garbha Griha and is enclosed in a quadrangular enclosure. The shikhara, a lofty ribbed curvilinear spire that curves in at the top and is crowned by an amalaka or great rounded block of stone, is built over the garbha griha. The golden vase-shaped Kalasa with a trisul stands on top of this. The sanctuary is built on a foundation of beautiful mouldings. Niche projections of Ganesh, Parvati, and Kartikeya adorn the lower half of the wall on three sides.

Puri’s Jagannath temple is a grander version of Lingaraja’s temple. It was constructed in the 12th century AD and includes a 65-meter-high tower.

Suggested Read – Temples of Orissa – Illustrious Architectural wonders of India

Religion of Odisha

Culture of Odisha, Religion
Image – Picturesbypriyesh/Flickr

Odisha is home to Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Jainism, among other religions. However, Hinduism is the majority religion in Odisha. Despite the fact that all other religions have adherents, Odisha boasts the biggest concentration of Hindus among Indian states. Odisha is a nation of religious tolerance, and people of many sects and faiths coexist peacefully, often within the same hamlet, and used to share all of the festivals.

Music and Dance of Odisha

Explore the Varied and Ancient Heritage of Odisha- Music and Dance
Odissi dance – Wikimedia

Odisha has a long and illustrious musical culture. Odisha’s rich musical legacy is reflected in the figures of dancers and musicians carved on old temple walls. Odissi music is a classical genre that combines all of the elements found in Hindustani and Karnatic music. Odissi sangita is a synthesis of four types of music, namely dhruvapada, chitrapada, chitrakala, and panchal, as detailed in two treatises produced in the early nineteenth century, namely Sangita Sarani and Sangita Narayana. Jayadev, the saint-poet, renowned composer, and illustrious maestro of classical music, is responsible for most of it.

The Odissi dance, which is choreographed to the best music of Odisha, is claimed to be an attempt to approach God and experience ultimate happiness. As a result, the devadasis, who used to dance to the recital of hymns and bols of talas, kept this dance alive. The Odissi dance emerged from the millennia-old Mahari dance form, which was once performed by devadasi dancers known as maharis at the shrine of Lord Jagannath in Puri. It was afterwards promoted as Odisha’s classical dance genre. Late Kavichandra Kalicharan Patnaik and Padma bhusan recipient Kelu Charan Mahapatra are among the masters who elevated the dance form to international prominence. To name a few, there’s Padmashree Pankaj Charan Das, and Deba Prasad Das.

Music and Dance of Odisha-Chhau-Dance
Chhau Dance – Image Source

In the world of Odisha music and dance, Chhau is a popular dance genre in addition to classical Odissi. It’s a warrior dance performed to the accompaniment of indigenous instruments. Today’s highly stylized Chhau dance adheres to the essential principles of Bharat Muni’s Natya Shastra and Nandikeswara’s Abhinaya Darpana. Other dance traditions found in Odisha’s rich history and culture include Jatra, Pala, Dashkathia, Gotipua, and Naga-Medha.

Festivals of Odisha

Culture of Odisha, Festivals
Image- Saurabh Chatterjee/ Flickr

Odisha is a melting pot of cultures, including Aryan, Dravidian, and Adivasi. The majority of the state’s festivals highlight some aspect of their cultures and honour their faith throughout the year. There are several festivals that are widely celebrated, but the celebrations are unique to each place. The Rath yatra is the state’s most well-known festival, during which a massive chariot or rath is driven across the state, particularly in Puri, where devotees worship Lord Jagannath. Durga Puja is celebrated all around the state, but especially in Cuttack. Kali Puja, also known as Diwali, is observed in many parts of Odisha. Cuttack’s Bali Yatra, held on the full moon day of Kartika, recalls the splendor of Odishan traders in the past. At Baripada, the Chaitra Parva, a Chhou dance festival, is held.

Cuisine of Odisha

Culture of Odisha, Cuisine
Image- Wikimedia

Odiya cuisine uses a variety of locally obtained vegetables, grains, pulses, dairy products, and seafood, as well as fewer spices and oil. Khechidi (rice, lentils, and ghee), Palau (vegetables, dry fruits, and spices), Kanika (sweet rice dish made with dried fruits and ghee), Ghee rice, and Pakhala (watered rice served with curd and stir-fried vegetables) are some of the famous rice dishes in Odisha. The vegetable and spice-laden Dalma, the plain and uncomplicated Dali , and the delectable and flavorful Besara are just a few of the mouthwatering lentil meals. Santula is a vegetable stew made with onion, garlic, and green chilies in a skillet. Khajuri khata, Amba khatta, Ouu khatta, dhania-patra, and pudina-patra chutneys are some of the state’s well-known chutneys used as condiments in Odishan cuisine. Dahi baigana, a curd and brinjal dish, is a delicious side dish with a tangy, flavorful, and sweet-sour flavour.

Cuisine of Odisha, Malpua sweet
Malpua Sweet Dish – Wikimedia

When it comes to sweets, Odisha has a wide variety of desserts, including cheese-based Chhena Poda, Chhena Jhili, Rasamalai, and Chhena Gaja, as well as flour-based Pheni, Jilapi, Malpua, and Kheera Gaja. Pitha, or indigenous cakes, are popular in Odisha.

The kitchen of Puri’s famous Jagannath Temple is said to be the world’s largest, with a thousand chefs working around 752 wood-burning clay hearths known as chulas to feed over 10,000 people every day. Offerings are made to the presiding deities in temples around the region. The Jagannath Temple’s prasad is well-known, and it is known as Maha Prasad, which means “largest of all prasads.” It is known as chhappan bhog since it has 56 recipes.

Suggested Read – 10 Mouthwatering Dishes of Odisha You Can’t afford to Miss

Tourism of Odisha

Tourism of-Odisha
Image – Suvadip Guha/Flickr

With a 485-kilometre-long coastline, mountains, lakes, natural biodiversity, and rivers, tourism in Odisha is one of the most important contributors to the state’s economy. Odisha is one of India’s most important tourism destinations, offering a diverse range of tourist attractions including wildlife reserves, beaches, temples, monuments, the arts, and festivals.

Occupation of Odisha

Image – WorldFish/Flickr

In Orissa, agriculture is the most common occupation. Agriculture and agriculture-related businesses employ over 76% of the entire working population. In addition, the state is a big producer of fish. Because of the favourable industrial climate in the state, the state has seen an increase in industrial activity.

Odisha with its diverse and intriguing cultural traditions exemplified by the iconic Sun Temple at Konark and the respected Jagannath Temple in Puri. Odisha, which is home to 62 tribes, has long been a favourite of visitors and scholars alike. Odissi dance, handlooms, and fine handicrafts give this land a distinct cultural character that has enthralled people from all over the world in the past and will continue to do so in the future.

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