Overview of Culture of Odisha
Awe- inspiring and Enthralling
Pulsating with the sprit of Indian Culture and located in the central part of India, Odisha is like a bridge between the northern and southern halves of the country. Known as Kalinga, Utkala or Odra and Koshala during various periods, Odisha has a chequered history of successive rules of different dynasties and assimilation and synthesization of the best of Buddhist, Jain and Hindu cultures and also Mahima Cult. It was a formidable maritime empire with overseas trading routes stretching up to Indonesia.
Ancient Odisha was a confluence of myriad racial streams. History tells us that the original inhabitants of the land belonged to Sabara tribe which had a distinct civilization of its own. When the Aryans entered Odisha from the north-east, there was conflict between the two civilizations at the initial stage but in course of time by mutual give and take, there was a cultural amalgamation.
Flowing through the arteries of Odisha is the living and continuing culture of India... its varied expressions and its rich variety. The very stones speak of the unique history of the nation. The temple-culture condenses the quintessence of India. Whether it is the sacred environs of Puri Jagannath temple, or the eroticism of Konark's Sun temple, the wondrous caves of Udayagiri and Khandagiri or the mystical monasteries of Buddhism, the paintings of folklore or the handloom weaver's magic... Odisha speaks eloquently of a living past continuing present and prospective future.
The word Odia is an anglicized version of Odia which itself is a modern name for the Odra or Udra tribes that once inhabited the central belt of modern Odisha. Odisha has also been the home of the erstwhile Kalinga and Utkal tribes that played a particularly prominent role in shaping the region's history and culture, and one of the earliest references to the same appears in the writings of Vedic chroniclers. In the 6th C. BC, Vedic Sutrakara Baudhayana mentions Kalinga as being beyond the Vedic fold, indicating that Brahminical influences had not yet touched the land. Unlike some other parts of India, tribal customs and traditions played a significant role in shaping political structures and cultural practices right up to the 15th C. when Brahminical influences triumphed over competing traditions and caste differentiation began to inhibit social mobility and erode what had survived of the ancient republican tradition.
A warm welcome awaits you in Odisha, which possesses varied and fascinating cultural roots aptly represented by the famous Sun Temple at Konark and the revered Jagannath Temple at Puri. Home to sixty-two tribes, Odisha has long been a favorite, not just among tourists, but also among the academics. Odissi dance, handlooms and exquisite handicrafts impart a unique cultural identity to this land; one that has charmed in the past and will continue to enthrall visitors in the future not only from India, but from the world over.
An Introduction to Odisha's Facts and Features
The modern state of Odisha (capital Bhubaneshwar) is located between 170-48 and 220-34 North latitude and 810-24 and 870-29 East longitude. The State is bound by the Bay of Bengal in the east, West Bengal in the north-east, Bihar and Jharkhand in the north, Chhatishgarh in the west and Andhra Pradesh in the south. The territory may be divided into five distinct natural regions: the Coastal Plains, the River Valleys, the Rolling Uplands, the Pleatues and the Hills & Mountains. The entire territory lies in the tropical zone as a result of which high temperature is recorded during summer months, particularly during April-June. However, the sea exercises a moderating influence over the climate of the coastal belt whereas the hill tracts experience an extreme climate.
A seat of spirituality & cradle of exquisite ethnic artifacts
Odisha has a rich heritage and has produced some of the best examples of Indian Fine Art. Artistic traditions are maintained and perpetuated through paintings, stone carving, wood carving, paintings on palm leaves. Odisha is also famous for handicraft works from sambalpur; silver filigree works from Cuttack and beautiful hand woven indigenous textiles. This is the magical land of myths and legends, of the exotic and the undiscovered, washed by the waters of the Bay of Bengal and cradled by the Eastern Ghats. Admire this land of an exciting blend of aesthetics and religion. Only in Odisha can you witness rural craftsmen and artists carving traditional stone and wood sculptures, etching palm leaves with intricate sacred designs, and painting elaborate canvases with scenes from the ancient Indian epics.
See artisans hammering brass vessels or casting images in bronze, potters making eggshell-thin vessels, or sculpting figurines in clay. Meet the real tribal folk of Odisha and savor their hospitality; even eat a delicious meal prepared in a traditional Odia home.
Learn about the thoughts, beliefs and hopes of the Odia people. Visit their shrines and temples and experience their rituals and ceremonies. Complement your village adventures with the tours of the beautiful monuments and the temples of Puri, Bhubaneswar and Konark.
Odisha has some of the most famous and elaborate temples in the world. The Jagannath Temple (Puri), Sun Temple (Konarak), Lingaraja Temple, Mukteswar Temple are all breath-taking in their architecture.
This golden tourism triangle embodies some of India's most enchanting temples ranging from monolithic cave temples of 2nd century BC to stone carved fantasies of Bhubaneswar and Puri (7th -13th century temples). Admire the Sun Temple of Konark and its famous exotic sculptures. This UNESCO certified World Heritage Site was built in the 13th century, in the golden era of Odishan art and architecture.
From the Sun temple itself, hailed as the black pagoda once upon a time; one can trace the emergence of Odishan history and sculpture. Every exquisite sculpture here has its own meaning. Come to the city of temples - Bhubaneswar where as many as a thousand temples existed at one point of time!
Many of these are still intact and they record the Kalinga Style of architecture from its inception to its maturity. Visit the Santi Stupa - the hallowed site of the famous Kalinga war which once turned the river Daya, red with the blood of Odia soldiers and finally made the emperor Ashoka embrace Buddhism. Find the Ashokan rock edicts immortalizing the historical events. Also find the Jain monasteries on the twin caves of Khandagiri and Udayagiri. Puri, the spiritual capital of Odisha, revolves around the daily life Lord Jagannath. Literally meaning "The Lord of the Universe". Spirituality here is tangible and palpable. The Chariot festival (Ratha Jatra) in June/July provides first hand experience of the rapture involved in the Jagannath cult.
Odisha also proclaims a glorious and ancient history spanning a period of over 2000 years. In ancient times, it was renowned as the glorious kingdom of Kalinga - a thriving seafaring state that commanded most of the sea routes in the Bay of Bengal. For many centuries, significant portions of Southeast Asia, such as Kampuchea (Cambodia), Java, Sumatra, Bali and Thailand were all erstwhile colonies of Odisha.
The Role of Buddhism and Jainism in Odia Culture
Both Buddhism and Jainism played an important role in the cultural and philosophical developments of early Odia civilization. Most Buddhist and Jain texts were written in Pali-Prakrit and the Prakrita Sarvasva, a celebrated Prakrit grammar text was authored by Markandeya Das, an Odia. Kharavela's Hatigumpha inscription is in Pali, leading to the speculation that Pali may have been the original language of the Odia people.
By the 7th C. AD, Brahmanism had also become influential, especially in the courts and Hiuen Tsang (the well-known Chinese chronicler) observed how Buddhist Viharas and Brahmnic temples flourished side by side. And although royal inscriptions of this time were in Sanskrit, the most commonly spoken language was not, and according to Hiuen Tsang, it appeared to be quite distinct from the language of Central India, and may have been a precursor of modern day Odia.
But even as the Bhauma Kings of the 6th-8th C issued edicts in Sanskrit, they patronized numerous Buddhist institutions and the art, architecture and poetry of the period reflected the popularity of Buddhism in the region.
Later, Odisha's Buddhism came to be modulated by strong Tantric influences, while a more traditional Vedic and Brahmnical version of Hinduism was brought to Odisha by Brahmins from Kannauj. Shaivism from the South was institutionalized in Puri. In addition, the majority of Odisha's adivasis continued to practice some form of animism and totem-worship. Unifying all these different traditions was the Shiva-Shakti cult which evolved from an amalgamation of Shaivism (worship of Shiva), Shaktism (worship of the Mother Goddess) and the Vajrayana, or Tantric form of Mahayana Buddism.
What made possible this fusion was that apart from the formal distinctions that separated these different religious and philosophical trends, in practical matters, there was a growing similarity between them. Whereas early Buddhism and the Nyaya School within Hinduism had laid considerable stress on rationalism and scientific investigation of nature, later Buddhism and the Shaivite schools both emphasized philosophical variants of concepts, first developed in the Upanishads, along with mysticism and devotion. Tantric cults had also developed along a dual track - on the one hand it had laid emphasis on gaining practical knowledge and a clear understanding of nature - on the other, it too came steeped in mysticism and magic.
At the same time, the Buddhist ethos had created an environment where compromise was preferred to confrontation. This allowed tribal deities and gods and goddesses associated with numerous fertility cults to be integrated into the Hindu pantheon. Tantric cult also met with some degree of approval.
Since Tantric cults emphasized the erotic as a means to spiritual salvation, the culture of austerity and sexual abstinence that had pervaded early Buddhism was replaced with an unapologetic embrace of all that was erotic.
Tantric influences were of particular importance for the survival of the Yogini cults in Odisha. The Yogini cults concentrated on worship of the Shakti (female life force), with a belief in the efficacy of magic ritual. In ancient texts, Yoginis are depicted as consorts of Yogis, and like their male companions practiced yoga to gain mastery over science and acquire magical powers.
Out of four distinguished Yogine Shrines in India, two are in Odisha—one at Hirapur near Bhubaneswar and the other at Ranipur-Jharial near Titilagarh in the district of Balangir.
While the literature of the court and the intelligentsia was primarily written in Sanskrit, and included a variety of commentaries and theoretical treatises on religion, politics, art and literature as well as reworks of the epics, popular literature in Odisha initially focused on folk tales, ballads, creation myths, devotional songs, love poetry. It was in the 15th century that Sarala Das wrote a popular Odisha version of the Mahabharata. Sarala Das arose from a peasant family and took his name from the goddess Sarala who was worshipped in his village in the district of Jagatsinghpur. He described himself as an unschooled 'Shudra' and became popularly known as Shudra-muni. Although the broad themes of his Mahabharata match other traditional versions, there is much that was original and written with a popular sensibility. His version knitted in local folk tales and ballads, and incorporated the ethical and moral values then embraced by the artisan class and peasantry.
Thus what emerged in Odisha from the 9th century on was a heady cocktail of mystical and practical currents that allowed for a certain degree of social mobility and provided space for ordinary peasants to make contributions to popular literature and poetry.
This stimulated the popularity of reading and since there were no taboos against learning Odia, literacy spread in the villages and such popular literature developed a wide mass following. A network of village libraries housed popular texts in neatly transcribed versions. Illuminated manuscripts and illustrated epics also became popular.
A unique paradise of art and culture
Odisha has a long tradition of art and architecture. The early monuments date back to the third century B.C. The remnant of an Ashokan pillar, turned into a Siva Lingam and enshrined in the Bhaskaresvara temple at Bhubaneswar and the lion capital of an Ashokan pillar, presently in the State Museum, speak volumes of Odisha's past glory. The rock-cut caves of Khandagiri and Udaygiri and the inscriptions recording Emperor Kharavela's short but eventful reign during the first century B.C. constitute the second phase of the evolution in Odishan art. The Naga and Yaksha images found in places around Bhubaneswar belong to the post-Kharavela period.The fortifed site of Sisupalgarh near Bhubaneswar is yet another evidence of the bye gone era.
Flowing through the veins of Odisha is the thriving and pulsating culture of India. Its multi-faceted expressions and its myriad variety are more than evident in this land. The stone sculptures found here eloquently narrate the historical legacy of the nation. Odisha's temple-culture is a magnificent reflection of the grand temple architectural essence of India. Be it the sanctified environs of the Lord Jagannath temple at Puri, or the mystic eroticism of the Sun temple of Konark, or the deep caves, or the Buddhist monasteries, the vibrant folk paintings or the weaver's handspun magic, Odisha sings with pride a ballad resonant with the richness of a living past and the dynamism of a flourishing present. A visit to the vibrant state equipped with a modern airport and luxury hotels is sure to convince any tourist that Odisha has much to offer in the form of an unmatched blend of the traditional and the contemporary.
History took a U-turn here after the Kalinga war in 261 B.C. when the Maurya Emperor Ashoka renounced war, embraced Buddhism and spread the message of peace and non-violence. The image of the forepart of an elephant at Dhauligiri is the earliest rock-cut sculpture. The remains at Ratnagiri-Lalitgiri-Udayagiri and Langudi are a treasure house of Odisha’s Buddhist Heritage. The illustrious emperor Kharavela who came to power around 1st century B.C. championed the cause of Jainism. The sophisticated art and architectural style of the Jain monastic caves at Khandagiri-Udayagiri and elsewhere like Subai in Koraput are a story unto themselves.
Above all, Odisha is known for its innumerable temples. It is probably the only state where you can study the chronological development of temple architecture from the earliest specimens of 6th century A.D. to the 13th century A.D. in the eastern part of Odisha.
A visit to the temples at Bhubaneswar alone will take you on a walk through five centuries of the golden age of Hindu Temple building (8th–12th century A.D.) and you will see the architectural style developing, expanding and refining before your eyes.
In the western part, temples of a different style continued to be built between 14th and 19th century A.D.
The temples of Odisha are characterised by profuse decorations, exquisite carvings and ornamentations that radiate the artist's inner love and dedications. The Sun Temple at Konark(a world heritage monument), Sri Jagannath Temple at Puri, Lingaraj, Rajarani, Mukteswar, Brahmeswar, Vaital and Parsurameswar Temple at Bhubaneswar, Nrusimhanath temple at Nrusimhanath are among some of the superb monuments. Puri is one of the four Dhams (holiest of holy places) in India.
Some of the temples baffle the historians by sheer architectural style. The Leaning Temple at Huma near Sambalpur (like the leaning tower of Pisa) and the Sashisena temple at Sonepur which has no door are still an enigma to the onlookers and researchers alike.
Out of four distinguished Hypaethral Yogini shrines of India, two are in Odisha (at Hirapur near Bhubaneswar and Ranipur-Jharial near Titilagarh in Western Odisha). The brick temple at Budhi Komna and Ranipur-Jharial are among the very few brick temples of India.
Dance & Music
Odisha is known for its own form of classical Odissi Dance and Music originating from the temple dances of Devadasi or Mahari. The graceful dance is mentioned in scriptures and depicted in sculptures. There is also a plethora of folk and tribal dance and music prominent among which are Sambalpuri, Ghoomra, Ranapa, Koya, Gadaba etc. as well as the Chhou dance which has traces of tribal, folk and classical forms and appears to be a rendition of non-verbal theatre.
Fairs & Festivals
Odisha is a land of colourful fairs and festivals.where every season has a variety of occasions to celebrate. The mood of the people is up beat. They put in their best of attire and ornaments and exhibit the way they lead their lives. There is no better occasion to see the people in their true colour, custumes and pageantry.
Most of the festivals are associated with the innumerable shrines or family traditions. They provide an opportunity for social harmony and religious fervour.
The Traditional Festivals round the year provide occasions for a closer look of the local culture. Apart from the famous Rath Yatra (Puri), Magha Saptami (Konark), Ashokastami (Bhubaneswar) etc., the Dhanuyatra of Bargarh (Western Odisha) is a unique festival in style and dimension (it is a theatrical presentation of Krishna Leela performed over an area of 5 Kms. radius with the largest cast as each one present on the occasion is treated as a character.)
The Tourist Festivals like the Konark Festival at Konark (Dec 1-5), Beach Festival, Puri (Nov-23-27), Folk Festival, Sambalpur (Jan 4-6), Tribal Festival (Parab) at Koraput (Nov 16-18), Adivasi Fair at Bhubaneswar (Jan 26-31) and Chhou Festival at Baripada (April 11-13) are memorable cocktails of Dance & Music, Craft and Cuisine Fun & Frolic.
Handicraft & Handloom Products.
Evolved slowly and gradually through disciplined efforts of generations, Odishan Hanicrafts have retained their seasoned traditional values along with the freshness and charm of their own. Beauty and utility combine in them. Dedicated labour of the artisans scattered all over the state has made Odisha a fabulous market of souvenirs and mementoes. Varieties are many—stone work, silver filigree, wood craft,appliqué work, brass & bell metal work, dhokra castings, horn work,pata paintings,papier mache,terracotta, tie & dye textile in cotton,tassar & silk and a lot more.Stemming from centuries of excusite craftsmanship, they are a colourful testimony to the integral life force of the people,
The tribal artisans make varieties of typical ornaments from brass,bell metal,silver and white metal. An interesting variation is iron artifacts by heating and beating process using traditional implements like furnace,anvil,tongue and hammer. The artifacts include a host of decorative items from animals and bird figures to human shapes and composition meant for wall hangings in addition to the agricultural tools which are utilitarian.
As would be expected in an agrarian State whose fields shimmer with a hundred different shades of green, Odisha produces a variety of vegetables. Fish, crabs and prawns make delicious dishes.
Traditional Odia meal, served in many small dishes arranged around a large thali (Platter) is prepared and spiced with a light touch. If you have an occasion to have a meal at some one’s home, you will be able to sample the traditional local style at its best. Many hotels / restaurants feature some local delicacies and can serve an Odia meal on request.
Sweet meats like Chhenapoda (baked cheese), Chhenajhilli, Rasabali (all made from milk) etc are among the typical sweetmeats. Odisha is also famous for its own Pitha (various types of cakes) .
‘Mahaprasad’ a special variety of food items, cooked by unique steaming process is offered to the deities in some temples like Sri Jagannath at Puri and Lingaraj & Ananta Vasudev at Bhubaneswar and then sold to the people. You should have a taste of the same at least for a change.
And, no visitor should leave Odisha without sipping fresh green coconut water. The top of the young coconut will be sliced off in front of you; straws are then inserted to enable you to drink the naturally cool (and pure) liquid inside. It is more refreshing than a soft drink, and will leave a lingering sense of refreshment and freshness.
Imagine a land where the sun illuminates the 'black pagoda', where the sea flirts with the sand and a lake which onsets for a perfect holiday with its avian friends. Odisha also known as Kalinga or Utkala of Mahabharata fame indeed holds an ancient substratum with its splendid temples, glistening golden beaches and prominent architectures. This state lies in the tropical zones along the eastern coast of India. Kissed by the pearly waters of the Bay of Bengal and crowned by the heavily forested hills of the Eastern Ghats, this dreamland offers a splendid amalgamation of rural tranquility with boisterous modern urban adroitness. Ductile coastlines, deep valleys of the Mahanadi River,the lush paddy fields may inspire the poet within you, but cannot stop you from experiencing the gushing waterfalls, which dive down with a thunder in sanctuaries and forestlands well known for their white tiger safari in the world. Odisha has vast mineral, marine and forest resources for setting up large, medium and small scale industries.
Overview on Tribes in Odisha
Since prehistoric days the land of Odisha has been inhabited by various people. The earliest settlers of Odisha were primitive hill tribes. Although prehistoric communities cannot be identified, it is well known that Odisha had been inhabited by tribes like Saora or Sabar from the Mahabharata days.
Saora in the hills and the Sahara and Sabar of the plains continue to be an important tribe distributed almost all over Odisha. Most of the tribal people have been influenced by Hindus and have adopted Hindu manners, customs and rituals. Bonda Parajas of Koraput district are the best example of these tribes.
Most of the tribal people and much of the population in Odisha belong to the Australoid group in racial history, while most of the general population belongs to the broad-headed Alpine type. Besides this, a sprinkling of Mediterranean type is found in the general population.
Institutional Pillars of Tribal Society
The tribal people express their cultural identity and distinctiveness in their social organisation, language, rituals and festivals and also in their dress, ornament, art and craft. They have retained their own way of managing internal affairs of the village mainly through two institutions namely, the village council and the youth dormitory. The dormitory is the core of tribal culture and it reinforces the age-old traditions. In Odisha this institution occurs among many tribal communities in some form or other. The Juangs call it Majang and Darbar, the Kondhs call it Dindaghar, the Bhuyans call it Dhangarabasa and among the Bondos it goes by the name Ingersin. Of all the tribes the dormitory system is well organized among the Juang. Conspicuous in the village, the Mandaghar is the largest hut. It has wall on three sides and is open in front. The wooden parts and side walls are carried with decorative symbols depicting animals. The boys hang their changu, a flat tambourine like drum which is used at the time of dancing. In front of the Mandaghar is the small open space where dance takes place almost every night after the day's work is over. The dormitory is so to say a school of dancing and expression of the communal art of the people. The elders of the village assemble at the dormitory house every day for every important event in their corporate life. Here they discuss matters concerning the welfare of the village, fix date and time for celebration of the village festivals, etc. In these respects the dormitory may be considered as the centre of social, economic and religious life of the village.
The amazing conglomeration of traditions, beliefs, sorrows and philosophies that together constitute and vitalize the rituals and festivals of the tribes, has descended from antiquity and has been preserved unimpaired to the present day. Every facet of their life covering round-the-year activities is intimately connected with religious beliefs and ritual practices. It is these aspects of their culture that give meaning and depth to their lives, and solidarity to their social structure.
The tribes believe that their life and work are controlled by supernatural beings whose abode is around them in hills, forests, rivers and houses. It is very difficult to standardize the Gods and spirits as their composition continually changes when old ones are forgotten with the introduction of new ones. Their Gods differ from one another in composition, function, character and nature. Some are benevolent; some are neutral and some are malevolent. The malevolent spirits and Gods are cared more than their benevolent counter parts as they can bring misery.
Odisha has a large concentration of Tribal population(62 Tribes) who mostly inhabit the jungle and hilly region with wide distribution in Koraput, Phulbani, Kalahandi, Ganjam, Keonjhar, Dhenkanal and Mayurbhanj area. The Socio-cultural life of Odisha has been greatly shaped and influenced by the long continuing tribal traditions
They enjoy their lives through dance and music. Tribal villages often vibrate with drum beats and the hills echo with resonance of music. The waterfalls, springs, hills and forests come to life with the rhythmic musical moods almost everyday.
Each tribe has its rich patterns of music and dance which are variegated, specialised and artistic. This form of performing art has inspired the innovation of colourful costumes, varieties of musical instruments and excellent carvings and paintings in their houses.
Out of 62 tribes of Odisha most important tribal groups are Santal, Juang, Saora, Bonda(Bondo), Kondh, Paraja and Koya.
The Adivasi Way of Life
Primarily, the major Odisha tribes are concentrated in its highlands. These 'adivasis' happen to be fiercely proud of their myriad ethnic traits, further accentuated by their varying ethnic dialects. Most of them are culture conscious and have been able to preserve their social customs resiliently. They still adhere to their ethnic identity and their close association with Mother Nature.
The aboriginals l lead a simple, traditional and colorful life, hunting and agriculture, amidst deep woods, valleys, lush forests, and primitive situations in spite of the inroads of so-called modern civilization, each one with its own culture and traditions different from the other.The dormitory life among the Bonda youngsters is quite fascinating. In the evening unmarried boys and girls enjoy music, dance, frolic and fun together and spend the night in dormitories until their mutual intimacy culminates into the social institution of marriage. The simple, carefree and colorful tribal life can be a great source of entertainment and education to the visitors. Their life-style is mostly characterized by dance, music, rituals, hunting, gaiety and festivities.
Odishan tribes are strong, hard working and simple folk, who are peace loving and keep their distance from the people of other communities, as they are too shy. The major occupations of these tribes are agriculture, hunting and fishing. Men usually wear loin cloths and women drape long stretches of cotton fabric around them. Women are adorned with jewelry in the form of bangles, armlets, bracelets, necklaces, rings, and hairpins usually made of silver, aluminum, and brass. The ritual of tattooing is also prevalent among tribal women folk.
Odia - the language of the land
Odia is the regional language of Odisha. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan family of languages as a direct descendant of eastern Magadhi. Under the influence of neighboring regional languages of the Aryan and Dravidian families, as also that of the Austric group of languages current among the tribal groups, Odia has developed many linguistic variations. Besides, hilly regions of north and south Odisha have their own local versions of Odia with many linguistic peculiarities. The first dated, inscription in Odia goes back to 1051 AD discovered at Urajang. But recent discoveries of Sanskrit inscriptions with Odia words thrown in, reported from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh areas of the ancient Kalinga Empire, push back its lineage to the 6th century AD. During the Surya dynasty (1435-1523), Odia literacy activities were remarkable and the great epics and almost all the Puranas and some Upanishads were translated and often reinterpreted. The Odia script, descending from Brahmi script, has been given the round or Dravidian finish, probably during the reign of the Ganga kings. The shape was admirably adapted to writing on processed palm leaves with an iron stylus.
Odia - the language of the land
Odia is the regional language of Odisha. It belongs to the Aryan family of languages and is closely related to Assamese, Bengali and Maithili as a direct descendant of eastern Magadhi. Under the influence of neighboring regional languages of the Aryan and Dravidian families, as also that of the Austric group of languages current among the tribal groups, Odia has developed many linguistic variations, such as Baleswari (Balasore), Bhatri (Koraput), Laria (Sambalpur), Sambalpuri (Sambalpur and other western districts), Ganjami (Ganjam and Koraput), Chhatisgarhi and adjoining areas of Odisha) and Medinipuri (Midnapur district of West Bengal). Besides, hilly regions of north and south Odisha have their own local versions of Odia with many linguistic peculiarities. The first dated, inscription in Odia goes back to 1051 AD discovered at Urajang. But recent discoveries of Sanskrit inscriptions with Odia words thrown in, reported from Odisha and Andhra Pradesh areas of the ancient Kalinga Empire, push back its lineage to the 6th century AD. During the Surya dynasty (1435-1523), Odia literacy activities were remarkable and the great epics and almost all the Puranas and some Upanishads were translated and often reinterpreted. The Odia script, descending from Brahmi script, has been given the round or Dravidian finish, probably during the reign of the Ganga kings. The shape was admirably adapted to writing on processed palm leaves with an iron stylus.
An economically resurgent Industrial Base
Adequate infrastructure for development of industry in Odisha is available. A combination of coal, iron ore, limestone, bauxite and a host of other minerals on the one hand and port facilities on the other are the unique features in Odisha. In addition, the bountiful forest resources and agricultural products provide ample scope for the development of forest-based and agro-based industries.
Today Odisha can boast of a leviathan Steel Plant at Rourkela, Sand Complex at Chhatrapur, Heavy Water Project at Talcher, Aluminum Smelter at Talcher and a Fertilizer Plant at Paradeep.
In spite of this rapid industrialization, Odisha remains mainly an agricultural state and over 75 percent of its people are dependent on agriculture. Rice, pulses, oil seeds, jute, sugarcane, turmeric and coconut are its main crops.
This is the magical land of myths and legends,, Admire this land of an exciting blend of aesthetics and religion. Witness rural craftsmen and artists carving traditional stone and wood sculptures, etching palm leaves with intricate sacred designs and painting elaborate canvases with scenes from the ancient Indian epics.
See artisans hammering brass vessels or casting images in bronze, potters making eggshell-thin vessels, or sculpting figurines in clay. Meet the real tribal folk and learn learn about their thoughts, beliefs and hopes.Taste a traditional meal prepared in an Odia home.
Tribal Rites and Rituals
Tribes believe in worshipping of numerous deities and perform rituals and ceremonies for a blissful life. Many festivals are also celebrated with much of devotion, through out the year in order to appease their deities and ascendant. The most significant festivals of the year being 'Chaita Parab' and 'Poush Parab'. Both days have a special attraction as all men of the village go on a hunting expedition. The additional charm of the festivals are the cultural tribal dances, the songs and the music performed by the talented folk of the tribes, treasuring their rich customs that differentiate them from the other non tribal people.
Manipulation of the environment being the main concern of the tribals, all the ritual acts are directed towards stimulating natural processes. Illness or misfortune is attributed to displeasure and malicious act of the Gods or ancestors. The sacrifice of different kinds of livestock accompanied by all the rites and ceremonials of fetishism is considered appropriate appeasement. Moreover, their extremely superstitious nature prohibits the undertaking of any enterprise unless the Gods are first appeased and the omens, after being carefully considered, are adjudged to be propitious.
The tribes of Odisha have retained the rich and varied heritage of colorful dance and music forming integral part of their festivals and rituals. Among them, the dance and music is developed and maintained by themselves in a tradition without aid and intervention of any professional dancer or teacher. It is mainly through the songs and dances the tribes seek to satisfy their inner urge for revealing their soul. The performance of these only give expression to their inner feelings, their joys and sorrows, their natural affections and passion and their appreciation of beauty in nature and in man.
Overview of Culture of Orissa
Awe- inspiring and Enthralling
Flowing through the arteries of Odisha is the living and continuing culture of India... its varied expressions and its rich variety. The very stones speak of the unique history of the nation. The temple-culture condenses the quintessence of India. Whether it is the sacred environs of Lord Jagannath temple, or the eroticism of Konark's Sun temple, the wondrous caves of Udaiygiri and Khandagiri or the mystical monasteries of Buddhism, the paintings of folklore or the handloom weaver's magic... Odisha speaks eloquently of a living past and continuing present.
The culture of Odisha makes an interesting case-study in that it's cultural foundation is in many ways atypical from that of the northern plains and many of the common generalizations that are made about Indian history do not seem to apply to the Odia region.
The word Odia is an anglicized version of Odia which itself is a modern name for the Odra or Udra tribes that inhabited the central belt of modern Odisha. Odisha has also been the home of the Kalinga and Utkal tribes that played a particularly prominent role in the region's history, and one of the earliest references to the ancient Kalingas appears in the writings of Vedic chroniclers. In the 6th C. BC, Vedic Sutrakara Baudhayana mentions Kalinga as being beyond the Vedic fold, indicating that Brahminical influences had not yet touched the land. Unlike some other parts of India, tribal customs and traditions played a significant role in shaping political structures and cultural practices right up to the 15th C. when Brahminical influences triumphed over competing traditions and caste differentiation began to inhibit social mobility and erode what had survived of the ancient republican tradition.
A warm welcome awaits you - to erstwhile Kingdom Kalinga of the famous Mauryan emperor Ashoka, the maritime state of Odisha possesses varied and fascinating cultural roots aptly represented by the famous Sun temple at Konark and the revered Jagannath temple at Puri. Home to sixty-two tribes, Odisha has long been a favorite, not just among tourists, but also among the academics. Odissi dance, handlooms and exquisite handicrafts impart a unique cultural identity to this land; one that has charmed in the past and will continue to enthrall visitors in the future not only from India, but from the world over.