Dance, music, architecture, cuisine,  patta chitra, muruja, etc.

Orissa has a rich cultural heritage, which is a harmonious blending of art, religion and

philosophy interwoven around ‘Lord Purusottam Jagannath’ – the internationally famous Vaishnavite God at Puri. The State has splendid historical monuments depicting glamorous heroic deeds and cultural upheavals. Puri, popularly known as the ‘Jagannath Dham’ because of the sacred shrine of Lord Jagannath has a special place in the cultural history of the country. It is one of the four dhams of India i.e. place of principal preceptor of Hindu Religion and a cultural nerve centre. Both Vaishnavism and Shaivism flourished in the State. Geographically ancient Orissa of the remote past was a link between Dakshinapath and the Aryavart and at the same time its mountain ranges were safe homes for the original primitives. Thus, it was a meeting ground of Anarya, Dravida and Arya cultures all of which have ultimately contributed to the growth of Hinduism. Mahabharata describes Orissa as a land inhabitated by saints (rishis).

The richness of the culture of a region can be visulasied from the sculptures and monuments of the past. The ‘golden triangle’ of Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar has many magnificent and massive temples as examples of superb artistic, sculptural and architectural skill of the people of Orissa. The temple of Lord Lingaraj at Bhubaneswar is a centre of attraction for Shaivites. The Black pagoda at Konark is a charming epitome of architectural perfection and proof of superb creative genius of the Oriya people. The Jagannath Temple at Puri is a wonderful monument. These places along with many other such places have all along provided spiritual bliss as well as reawakening and have educated the people to follow a secular way of life. As already mentioned both Buddhism and Jainism had also flourished in ancient Orissa. In fact Lord Jagannath is also described by some scholars as a symbol of Buddhism, while He was originally a God of the Savaras i.e. one of the primitive tribes of the State.

Arts & Crafts:

Odiscultureha has a distinct tradition of painting, architecture, sculpture handier music and dance. The Odisha School of painting has three streams, which in their totality projects. In it’s distinguishing aspects. These are the tribal, the folk and the classical.


Besides mural paintings, we get miniature paintings, which are called patta chitras. Pattas are now used as wall hangings. The subject matter of Patta paintings is limited to religious themes. The stories of Rama and Krishna are usually depicted on the pattas. “Rasa Lila”, “Vastra Haran”, “Kaliya Dalan” are some of the recurring themes of Patta art. Patta paintings are so called because they are executed on silken hand woven both. They are painted with bright colours and possess a charm peculiarly their own.

Tribal Paintings

Odisha has a rich tribal culture. The Sauras, the Kondhs and the Santals decorate their houses with motifs of flowers, birds and geometrical designs. The Saura paintings are intimately related to religious beliefs and drawn in order to appease demigods’ and spirits. On the occasion of animal sacrifices, the Sauras draw ittals on their walls. The themes of these paintings are usually dream sequences. A medley of objects such as a comb or even a bicycle map figure in modem Saura paintings. The Kondh wall paintings are generally in the form of geometrical designs. Santals also paint their houses with figurative patterns.

Rock Paintings:

Painted rock shelters are situated in the densely wooded tracts of western Odisha. The rock shelters at Ulapgarh and Vikram Khol in Sambalpur district, Manikmada and Ushakothi in Sundargarh district, Gudahandi and Yogimatha in Kalahandi district, offer the joy of discovering a primitive culture, rare in the whole of Eastern India. There are natural rocks in these areas covered with prehistoric paintings. The Ravana Chhata Rock al Sitabinjhee of Keonjhar district contains a painting of a very high order. It depicts the procession scene of a King riding a caparisoned elephant. There are horse-riders and soldiers on the march holding shafts and banners, followed by a female attendant. This painting carries reminiscence of Aianta murals. The rock painting in these natural caves are coloured with the help of a twig of a palm tree turned into a brush by hammering its fibrous end.


Palm Leaf Paintings

Palm leaf paintings are very ancient in Odisha. In Odisha the Palm Leaf illustrations are mainly of two types: simple engravings or illustrations in pure line on palm leaf and engraving with colour fillings

Jhoti, Chita, Muruja

During this auspicious occasion, the mud walls and floors are decorated with murals in white rice paste or pithau. They are called jhoti or chita and are drawn not merely with the intention of decorating the house, but to establish a relationship between the mystical and the material, thus being highly symbolical and meaningful.

Muruja is drawn on the floor with powders of different hues. White powder is obtained from the grinding of stones, green powder is obtained from dry leaves, black from burnt coconut shells, yellow from the petals of marigold flowers or turmeric, and red from red clay or bricks. Muruja is generally used during rituals in the forms of mandalas. In the holy month of Kartik (November) women observe penance and draw muruja designs near the tulsi plant.



Odisha’ is famous for her handicrafts which exhibit the skill and creativity of her artisans. Her brass work, silver work, terracotta art objects, and applique work are unique examples of artistic excellence.

1.People – People of Orissa; famous people from the state

The first great poet of Odisha is the famous Sarala Das who wrote the Mahabharata, not an exact translation from the Sanskrit original, but a full-blown independent work. Sarala Mahabharat has 152000 verses compared to 100000 in the Sanskrit version. Among many of his poems and epics, he is best remembered for his Sarala MahabharataChandi Purana and the Vilanka Ramayana are also two of his famous creations. Arjuna Das, a contemporary to Sarala Das, wrote Rama-Bibha, a significant long poem in Oriya.

Towards the 16th century, five poets emerged, though there are hundreds year gap in between them. But they are known as Panchashakhas as they believed in the same school of thought, Utkaliya Vaishnavism. The poets are: Balaram Das, Jagannath Das, Achyutananada Das, Ananta Das and Jasobanta Das. The Panchasakhas are very much Vaishnavas by thought. In 1509, Chaitanya, an Oriya devotee of Vishnu whose grandfather Madhukar Mishra had emigrated to Bengal, came to Odisha with his Vaishnava message of love. Before h im Jayadeva, one of the foremost composers in Sanskrit, had prepared the ground by heralding the cult of Vaishnavism through his Gita Govinda. Chaitanya’s path of devotion was known as Raganuga Bhakti Marga, but the Panchasakhas differed from Chaitanyas and believed in Gyana Mishra Bhakti Marga, which has similarities with the Buddhist philosophy of Charya Literature stated above. At the end of age of Panchasakha, the prominent poets are Dinakrushna Das, Upendra Bhanja and Abhimanyu Samanta Simhar. Verbal jugglery, obscenity and eroticism as the characteristics of Shringara Kavyas, became the trend of this period to which Upendra Bhanja took a leading role. His creations were Baidehisha Bilasa, Koti Brahmanda Sundari, Lavanyabati were proved landmark in Oriya Literature. Upendra Bhanja was conferred with the title Kabi Samrat of Oriya literature for the aesthetic poetic sense and verbal jugglery proficiency. Dinakrushna Das’s Rasokallola and Abhimanyu Samanta Simhara’s Bidagdha Chintamani are prominent kavyas of this time

2.Festivals – about the major festivals

Odisha is known for her colorful festivals. The festivals are numerous, spread over all the twelve months of a year. The village life centers round agriculture. Therefore, there is an intimate relationship of festivals with the numerous agricultural operations that take place. Orissan Festivals are also observed as part of Hindu religious faith. Dates for Orissan festivals are determined by the traditional Hindu calendar. The specialties of most of the Orissan festivals are that, on these occasions, much merry­making is done, new clothes are worn and special dishes are prepared at home. The Orissan cuisine is at its test in these functions. Delicious dishes prepared include small cakes known as Pitha’ and also sweets made from milk. Festivals carry forward people’s tradition and culture.

A brief List of major festivals of Orissa during is given below:

  • January  : Makar, Dhanu Yatra
  • February: Magha Saptmi, Sarswati Puja
  • March : Dola Yatra (Holi), Siva Ratri
  • April : Sokastami, Mahavisuva Sankrati, Rama Navami
  • May : Jhamu Yatra, Chaita Parva
  • June : Sitalsasthi, Raja Festival
  • July : Car Festival ( Rath Yatra)
  • August : Jhulan Yatra, Rakhi Purnima
  • September : Ganesh Puja
  • October: Durga Puja, Kumar Purnima, Diwali, Nuakhai
  • November : Kartika Purnima, Aunla Nabami
  • December : Prathamastami

Please note that the months mentioned above is an appox. estimate. Actual period(months) of occurance of a particular festival may vary.

Brief summary of the important festivals of Orissa is recounted below:

Raja Parba

This festival is the most important in coastal Orissa and unique in its observance in honour of the Mother Earth. It is observed for three days. All agricultural operations remain suspended during these days. During ‘Raja’ festival, food specialties are prepared in every home. The most important is ‘Poda Cake’ made out of rice, coconut, molasses and spices. Children take Pitha (Rice cakes) and fruits during this period. They wear new clothes and make a lot of merry-making in ‘Swings’.

Mahabisuva Sankranti

This is the beginning of New Year in Orissa. This festival is also called: ‘Pana Sankranti’. On this day in every Oriya home, ‘Pana’ or household sweet drink is given to the neighbours and visitors. Families make special prayers and food offerings in the temples. On this day also ends the fire walking function called `Jhamu Yatra’ where penitents walk on live charcoal to the accompaniment of gongs and drums.

Rath Yatra or Car Festival

This is the grandest of all festivals in Orissa and is held at Puri. It begins from the second day of the bright half of (Asadha) month which falls in June or July every year. It is the sacred journey of images. Lord Jagannath with brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra in wooden chariots journey from main Jagannath temple through the streets to another shrine called `Gundhicha Char’, where the deities stay for nine days. On the last day, the return journey is made i.e. from Gundicha Char to main Jagannath temple. This is called Bahuda Yatra. Thousands of devotees from all over India throng on Ratha Yatra day at Puri to pull the sacred Chariots.

Akhoya Trutia

This is the oldest agricultural festival in the State. On this day farmer goes to his field with turmeric powder, sandal paste, paddy seeds mingled with vermilion and rice cakes. He takes along with him his plough. In the field, he prays and offers ‘Bhoga’ to goddess Lakshmi and sows fistful of paddy seeds in the field after ploughing it.


This is celebrated in grand form at the Lingaraj Temple at Bhubaneswar. This is a chariot festival like the Car Festival of Puri. The protege of Lord Lingaraj (Siva) is taken out in a wooden chariot from the main temple to Rameswar temple. The chariot returns after a four day stay with Mausi Maa.

Durga Puja

It is celebrated with much colour and festivity in the State. Durga Puja symbolizes the commemoration of victory of good over evil. Mother Durga on this day killed the demon ‘Mahisasura’ and brought about peace in the land; Puja Mandaps with coloured clay images of goddess Durga are set up in large numbers. Crowds throng Puja Mandaps to enjoy the festivities. Goddess Durga is worshipped from the Seventh to Tenth day. On the Tenth day which is called ‘Vijaya Dasami’, a procession is carried out toward a river for immersion of the image.

Makara Mela

Makar Sankranti is celebrated with much gusto when the sun enters the orbit of Capricorn. By this time, harvest of new paddy, sugarcane crops etc. are over. On the day of the Sankranti, food offering are made to God, Sun God is worshipped with great fervor and enthusiasm by one and all. The festival is also called ‘Makara Mela’.

Mahasiva Ratri

On this day, devotees remain on fast and perform ‘Puja’ in the ‘Siva’ temples. The main festival is celebrated at the Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar where sacred lamp burns on the temple top.


This is very popular and colourful festival in the State. Radha and Krishna are the main deities who are worshipped in this ‘Parbah’. People in the rural areas carry the gaily decorated ‘Viman’ with the idols in the village streets singing devotional songs. The main attraction of Dola Yatra is Holi when people throw colour powders and waters on each other.

Chaiti Parba

This is the main festival of fishermen community. They dance with a wooden horse in villages. This is called (Ghoda) Horse dance.


This is a major social festival of Western Orissa. Generally, it takes place in August-September on an auspicious day fixed by the astrologers. Although the festival is meant for eating new rice of the year, it is observed as a day of general festivity. New rice is cooked with milk and sugar and distributed. People greet their friends and relatives.

Magha Saptami

On this day thousands of pilgrims take holy dip in the sea near Chandrabhaga beach. They welcome the rising sun with prayers. Konark is the place of main festival. According to ‘Puranas’ Samba worshipped Sun God on this day and was cured from leprosy disease.

Sitala Sasthi

This is the celebration of marriage ceremony of Lord Siva with Goddess Parvati and is mostly observed in Western Orissa particularly at Sambalpur in June. The wedding of the divine couple is observed with much pomp and ceremony. Lakhs of people witness it when the idols are taken out in procession on a `Medha’.

Dhanu Yatra

This is colourful festival of Western Orissa, particularly at Bargarh town. Dhanu Yatra relates to the episodes of visit of God Krishna to Mathura where King Kansa, the tyrant, ruled over his subjects. The ceremony is colourfully observed at Bargarh where thousands of people assemble daily to witness the ceremony. The town of Bargarh becomes Mathura. Different acts of the Puranic descriptions are performed and spectators witness it with great joy.


Orissa is endowed with large deposits of various mineral resources and occupies a significant position in the mineral map of the country. Major minerals like chromites, nickel, bauxite, iron-ore and coal are plentily available in the State which accounts for 98.39%, 95.11%, 70.39%, 26.50% and 24.37% respectively of the total deposits in India.

Besides, other minerals like China Clay, fire clay, lime stone, quartz, precious and semi precious stones, copper, manganese, graphite, titanium, Vanadium, etc are also available in the State.