Traditional Dresses of Odisha Reflecting Culture of Odia People


Bonda Tribal Woman – Image by Ganta Srinivas

Odisha, formerly known as Orissa, is the ancient Kalinga homeland from which Buddhism spread over India. It borders West Bengal and Jharkhand in the north, Chhattisgarh in the west, Andhra Pradesh in the south, and the Bay of Bengal in the east on India’s eastern coast.

Bhubaneswar, the ‘city of temples,’ was the ancient capital of Kalinga and was called after Tri Bhubaneswar, the ‘Lord of Three Worlds.’ Odisha is known for its historical monuments, archaeological sites, traditional arts, sculpture, dance, and music, all of which contribute to the state’s rich cultural history.

It is a melting pot of civilizations, including Aryan, Dravidian, and Adivasi. The state has a tumultuous past that includes the integration and synthesis of the finest of Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu traditions, as well as the Mahima Cult. Odisha has been known as Odra, Utkala, Kalinga, Tosala, Tosali, and Kosala in the past. The term “odisha” comes from a tribal society that lived in ancient times in an area named “odra” and worshipped the sun deity.

It has gorgeous temples and exceptional structures, as well as beaches, animal sanctuaries, and a natural landscape of often-enchanting beauty, and it is home to many thousands of talented artists and artisans.

Traditional Dress of women in Odisha

Traditional-Dress of-Odisha
Image – DFID/Flickr

Women from all cultures in India like wearing sarees, but there is always a catch in the way a saree is worn or fashioned in different cultures, and the same is true for Odisha’s traditional women’s attire.

Orissa has a long history of textile and weaving art. Textile weaving, in reality, is a major business in the state, employing thousands of weavers and allied artisans. The state’s indigenous fabric dyeing and weaving methods were inspired by old religious writings and rituals. Unlike in other regions, Orissa sarees have been heavily impacted by Hindu holy writings, particularly those centred on Krishna.

One fascinating point to notice is that weavers in the Cuttack district’s Nuapatna make particular silk with lyrics from the epic poem Gita Govinda woven on it. The idols in the famed Jagannath temple are dressed in this distinctive fabric, and because of Krishna’s great influence, the sarees frequently display temple borders, traditional colours connected with Lord Jagannath, and other mythical themes.

Silk and cotton are popular in Odisha. The region produces a variety of tussar silks as well as exceptionally durable cotton. Odisha’s Tussar has a smoother texture and a glossy finish, and it’s worth noting that this state is best renowned for its distinctive Ikat dyeing and weaving technique. In fact, when we think about sarees from Odisha, the first thing that comes to mind is the state’s trademark ikat, whether in silk or cotton; the dyeing and weaving technique from the state is world-renowned.

Sambalpuri ikat

Traditional Dresses of Odisha Sambalpuri ikat
Image- Wikimedia

Sambalpuri ikat, Orissa’s most popular saree, is made using a technique known as Bandhkala, or yarn tie-dye. The double ikat method is used to weave the Sambalpuri ikat in both cotton and silk. Both the warp and weft yarns are tie-dyed first and then put into a pattern for weaving. These sarees are made in Sambalpur, Berhampur, Mayurbhanj, and Nuapatna, and include lovely nature-inspired designs like a shell, flowers, chakra, and rudraksha not just on the border and pallav, but also throughout the body. The more complicated the task, the more expensive it is.

While the saree is commonly referred to as Sambalpuri Ikat, each little town where this weaving method is applied gives the Bandha saree its own distinct flavour. The cotton variant of Sambalpuri Ikat is also popular, whereas Nuapatna sarees, which employ the same weaving method and have comparable motifs, are mainly made of soft silk and Tussar silk. Berhampur sarees are usually made of strong silk with narrow borders. The designs aren’t particularly elaborate, and the sarees are generally woven with an ikat-style temple border.

Bomkai or Sonepuri

Traditional Dresses of Odisha Bomkai
Image- Wikimedia

Silk sarees from Bomkai are a rare find. The Bomkai saree combines a blend of Ikat weaving with silk or resham thread embroidery on the pallava and border, and is often made in soft silk. The majority of sarees have a simple body and a detailed pallav. The saree’s body can contain extremely small ikat motifs, and the pallav is usually woven with highly elaborate patterns in addition to ikat weaving. The motifs are generally nature-based and are influenced by tribal art. The palette frequently revolves around black, red, yellow, orange, and blue, and the colours are typically vivid.

The embroidered temple spires on the pallava and border of the Bomkai cotton saree, which is produced in the Ganjam area in a similar interpretation but in cotton fabric, are common. The Bomkai cotton sarees are created by weavers who are inspired by tribal art.

Pasapalli saree or Saktapar sari

Traditional Dresses of Odisha Pasapalli saree
Image- Pinterest

The Saktapar or Pasapalli saree is an ikat saree woven in Bargarh, Orissa. The checkerboard, or passa as it is known in the native language, influenced the saree’s pattern and weaving. The saree is made of double ikat, which creates a checkerboard pattern, and its border is typically braced, giving it a refined appearance. The colours are bold and bright at all times.

Khandua Saree

Traditional Dresses of Odisha Khandua saree
Image- Wikimedia

It’s one of the most complex ikat sarees from Orissa. Khandua sarees, which are usually composed of soft silk or Malda silk, have a highly detailed design all over them. The border is usually decorated with a simple temple ikat pattern or a very basic ikat pattern. The pallav contains intricate ikat work that takes considerable time to complete. Women in Orissa wear these types of sarees at weddings and other festive occasions. Khandua sarees are traditionally produced in red, sunset yellow, and orange colours. The borer and pallav are usually black, crimson, or blue, which enhances the saree’s elegance.

Berhampuri Saree or Berhampur Pata

Traditional Dresses of Odisha Berhampuri Saree
Image- Pinterest

Berhampur – or the city of Lord Brahma – in Odisha is also known as the silk city of India, and it is here that the legendary, but now failing, Berhampur Patta silk saris are produced. These classic drapes are noted for their typical Odissi weaving style – as well as the kumbha or temple pattern – and are manufactured in Joda (pairs) – the sari for the women and the matching joda for the men. Their well-known temple-style patterns are referred to as ‘phoda kumbha’ or ‘badhi kumbha.’ These priceless saris were once the pride of Orissa, and brides wore them at their wedding ceremonies.

Tribal Dresses of Odisha

Traditional-Dresses-of-Odisha Tribes
Onukadelli Tribal Village – Saurabh Chatterjee/Flickr

Orissa is a densely tribalized state with sixty-two tribes residing in various portions of the state. Each tribal society has its own style of life, with considerable differences in attire, ornamentation, house-building skills, and overall manner of life. This distinction in their lives may be seen in their material culture, art artefacts like paintings and drawings, as well as the sizes and forms of the many objects they utilise. Dress is a cultural necessity for the tribes, as well as a component of their tradition.

The usage of clothing is highly important and worthwhile among the tribes. The tribes don’t use clothing solely to cover their nakedness; it also expresses their ethnic feelings and cultural identity. When it comes to festivals and celebrations, the tribals dress in unique outfits. For example, a Dhangedi (maiden) dresses up to gain people’ attention, but the Gurumai, the priestess, dresses up to serve the goddess for the sake of her society. Dress also aids people in many hardships and aids in the worship of gods and goddesses who protect them from the hostile crimes of ghosts, spirits, and other supernatural beings.

Image Source

The tribals also wear clothing that corresponds to their social status, such as the clan chief, the priest, and the revenue collector. They wear different costumes for different occasions like as marriage, birth, funeral, worship, and so on. They choose gowns based on the occasion, age, gender, and other variables.

Material culture is an important aspect of their artistic practice. Even the materials used in their costumes and dresses have an artistic flair. It’s also a reflection of the art that has been passed down through the generations. On the surface, it appears that people wear clothing merely to prevent being exposed to the elements, such as cold, rain, and sunlight. The tribal outfits, on the other hand, display the community’s individuality and self-identity. Possessing the appropriate attire is a source of pride and excitement for many people.The Bondos’ “Rings” and the Dangarias’ embroidered shawl have significant social and cultural importance. The Dangria shawl is inextricably linked to the marriage bond, and its success is dependent on it. The Lanjia Saora’ dancing costumes, as well as their usual attire, are excellent examples of their rich cultural past. They gain a tinge of regal dignity and heroism as they dance in the clothing of the clan’s chief “Gamango”

They employ their own indigenous technologies to make clothing. They mainly collect the fibre from bamboo and other trees; they set up the wooden loom in front of their house or in the garden, and some even put it on the village’s small route. In their spare time, they weave. Men and women both weave. Only women weave in certain societies. The ladies create a variety of garments for themselves and their male family members.

Traditional dress of men in Orissa

Traditional Dresses of Odisha men
Image- Pixabay

Despite the fact that modernisation has mostly washed away the passion for traditional costumes among Odisha’s young, a few outfits are still proudly worn by Odisha males. Here is a collection of Odisha men’s traditional attire that is popular among men of all ages in the state.


Traditional Dresses of Odisha Dhoti
Image- Piqsels

Dhoti is traditional Odisha clothing worn by males from several ethnicities. It’s made of white cotton that’s wrapped around the waist to hide the body’s bottom. The dhoti created in Odisha is unique in that it has a gorgeous brick-coloured border and the rest of the material is white.


Traditional Dresses of Odisha Sambalpuri
Image- Pinterest

Men in Odisha wear Sambalpuri, a small variation of the normal kurta. The clothing comes in a variety of fabrics, colours, and styles that appeal to both adults and children. Odisha men wear normal kurtas with sleeves with light design and patchwork for rituals such as weddings and engagements.


Kurtas aren’t complete without pyjamas, which are often plain and white in colour.


Traditional Dresses of Odisha -Sherwani
Image- Wikimedia

In Odisha, most grooms like to wear a Sherwani to their wedding. The attire is comparable to that seen in other areas of India. This garment is adorned with rich embroidery in the state.

Orissa’s sarees and handlooms are meticulously conserved and respectfully adored in order to pass along the legacy to future generations. In reality, handloom weaving is one of India’s oldest and most important businesses. Thousands of weavers and allied craftsmen and artisans are supported by it. So, although there are changes in people’s everyday costumes due to globalisation, the native inhabitants never miss a chance to show off their culture through their dresses during occasions like Durga Puja.

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