FESTIVALS OF ODISHA


Festivals of Odisha There is no better evidence for this religion-spiritual yearning in its popular form than the string of festivals that is spread over the year. As has been said earlier, Odisha is a confluence of the Aryan, Dravidian and Adivasi cultures all of which by the quest of the numinous.

Dola Purnima (Holi):

Dolapwnima or Holi is the most famous spring festival of India. Usually celebrated in March It has special properties in its celebration in Odisha where it is a five day affair, especially in the rural areas. The images of Krishna are worshipped form Dashami (10th day of the bright fortnight) to the full moon day. The images are taken in decorated vimans, small wooden temples, carried on the shoulders of bearers from house to house where offerings are made to them. After the tour of the village the vimanas from different villages are assembled in an open field and the time is spent in bhajana and kirtan. Jatras and palas are also held in the area. The day after the full moon day people throw coloured water on one another and smear each other's faces with coloured powder (Abir). The festival is specially important for cattle owing to their association with the cowherd boy Krisllna. They are bathed, anointed with vermillion, garlanded and fed sumptuously. The festival is connected with the destruction of the demon Holikasura or the she-demon Holika by making a bonfire, for which the festival is called Holi. Such Melanas or Fairs continue till the month of Chaitra in different places of the district of Cuttack, Puri and Ganjam.

CHANDAN YATRA

This festival is generally famous in Puri but in other pars of Odisha this is also observed related to Lord Jagannath or Krishna. This Takes place in the month of Vaisaksha and continues for long 42 days. But, generally speaking it is a Festival of first 21 days only.The first period of 21 days is known as "Bahar Chandan"or outer Chandan. During this period,the representative images of Rama,Krushna, Madanmohan,Sridevi and Bhudevi are taken in a procession to Narendra tank.The images of Siva from 5 Siva Temples known as "Pancha Pandavas" also accompany them to the Narendra tank, At Narendra tank the images play in well decorated boats and are worshipped. The second period of 21 days known as "Bhitar Chandana" is celebrated inside the Temple. The rites observed on this period are not popularly enjoyed.

CAR FESTIVAL(Ratha Yatra)

The most famous Odisha festival is of course the Ratha Yatra or Car Festival (June-July) which attracts pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. On the full moon day of the month of Jyestha known as snana Purnima, the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra slid Subhadra are brought out and bathed on a pendal known as the snarlamandap according to religious rites. Then they are believed to become indisposed and are confined to a solitary abode for a fortnight where they undergo treatment, are offered special ayurvedic medicine boli and some special liquid diet called sarapana. Alter a rest of fifteen days on the second day of the lunar month huge chariots are pulled by thousands of people, irrespective of religion, caste or creed to proclaim their universality and accessibility, to humanity at large. The chariots are cleaned by the Gajapati Maharaja of purl with a golden broom to proclaim that he is the first of the Lord's servants and on this particular day he performs the duty of a scavenger to demonstrate socialism in action and the dignity of labour. 'this act is connected with " famous incident in Odisha history in course of which the king Purushottama Deva was outwitted by his minister to marry the princess Padmavati. The deities then So to Gundichaghar where they stall for eight days at the end of \which the return car festival (Bahuda Yatra) takes place, One has only to see the vast sea of humanity on these occasions to convince oneself about the influence of religion on the people of Odisha for whom Jagannath is no other Supreme Brahman, without beginning and without end, and the saviour of mankind.

Konark Dance Festival

Described as a poem in stone, the Sun temple at Konark is the crowning glory of the temple architecture of Odisha. As a fitting tribute to the majestic monument, eminent classical dancers of India get together during the Konark Festival every year from 1st to 5th December to present live performances of their art. When the sun sets in the horizon and the stars appear in the sky, the open-air auditorium against the backdrop of the floodlit temple reverberates with the beats of Raga and Tala to fill the air. The classical extravaganza is a journey through ecstasy. The stage for the Konark Dance Festival 2001 was celebrated with a extravaganza of much admired Odissi, Bharatnatyam, Mohiniattam, Kathakali, Manipuri, Kathak and Chhow dances - a lavish feast for the eyes and ears.

Durga Puja Odisha (Orissa)

Durga Puja is a special time for women who look forward to this auspicious occasion to buy clothes for themselves and their family. They express their joy by partaking in the Sindoor Utsav where the married ladies smear the parting of the goddess's hair with vermilion and again smear each other's hair parting with vermilions. Girls adorn the floor with alpana designs that are made with rice flour paste. They see this autumn festival as the annual home coming of Durga, the married daughter returning home to her parents from her husband's house for a period of four days. Sheer joy, mad ecstasy and wondrous celebrations remain the mood of the day as during this period the spirit transports one's soul into utter delight. It is because Durga Puja is much more than a religious festival.

Vishwakarma Puja

The Hindu mythology crowns “Lord Vishwakarma” as the presiding deity of Architecture and Engineering. As a mark of reverence, he is still worshipped by the engineering community, industrial houses, artists, craftsmen, and weavers. He is regarded as the supreme worker, the very essence of excellence and quality in craftsmanship. Vishwakarma revealed the sciences of industry to man and is thus the patron god of all the workers and engineers providing them with courage and inspiration. All over the country factories, workshops and manufacturing units are in festive mood. Shop spaces are cleared to make way for the deity. The Lord on the back of his appurtenance (bahana), the elephant, holds in his four hands, a water-pot, the Vedas, a noose and craftsman's tools. Rituals are followed by the distribution of "prasad". The yearly feast is cooked, where the workmen and the owners lunch together. Throughout the day colorful kites are flown. The sky fills up with all shades and colors. Workers at many places make resolutions to perform better from this auspicious day. One of the important festivals of Orissa, Vishwakarma Puja is marked with usual gaiety. All the industrial places, shops that engage small or heavy machineries and owners vehicles aptly summon the Lord Vishwakarma, thanking Him for His grace and seeking his blessing in smooth running of their machineries. Pandals come up in busy streets and Prasads are distributed to the devotees.

Uda Parab

Uda Parab is observed in the district of Mayurbhanj and Keonjhar. The participating devotees in this festival of orissa are called Bhakta. In a village field, a long staff is fixed horizontally on a perpendicular pole. The Bhaktas, after having taken their ceremonial baths and confirmed to other rituals, move in a dancing procession to this place. They are accompanied by a cheering crowd and loud beating of drums. A huge congregation at the field awaits their arrival. Then, one by one, they are tied to the horizontal staff with a long cloth at the shoulders. Ankle-bells are fitted on their feet. They simply hold on the staff with one hand and move hanging. With the help of a rope fixed to the perpendicular staff they are kept rotating in a circle by a person below. Profusely garlanded, the Bhakta flying at a height throws flowers from his garlands and mangoes to the on looking audience below, who collect them with great enthusiasm as precious possession. After this ceremony the Bhaktas go to the nearby temple and offer offerings and prayers to Shiva, Hingula, Mangala. Uda Parab is celebrated with much gaiety and pomp.

Sudasha Brata

Sudasa Brata, is a unique festival of Orissa among the women who take a vow for the well being of their family. It is observed whenever there is a combination of (1) Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon), (2) Thursday and (3) Dasami. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during the day by offering 10 Manda Pithas in puja (see Oriya Foods page for recipe of Manda Pitha). A sacred thread (consisting of ten layers of thread) is prepared in the prescribed manner and tied by women on their arms until the arrival next occasion of Sudasha Brata (when the thread is replaced again).

Raja Festival

The most important festival of Orissa, Raja is generally associated with the farmers and is celebrated during the onset of monsoons.Also known as Mithuna Sankranti, Raja falls on the first day of the month of Asadha (June-July) from which the rainy season starts, thus moistening the summer parched soil and making it ready for productivity.Though celebrated all over the state it is more enthusiastically observed in the coastal districts of Orissa. The first day is called Pahili Raja (Prior Raja), second is Raja (Proper Raja) and third is Basi Raja (Past Raja).In some places however there is a custom of celebrating the fourth Raja also known as the “Basumata Puja”.Conceiving mother earth to be a woman on menstruation, which is a sign of fertility, she is given rest for all these three days. As such all agricultural activities remain suspended during these three days of celebration. Significantly, it is a festival of the unmarried girls;the potential mothers. Girls are forbidden from all kinds of manual work during these three days of Raja-festival. They don’t carry water, cut vegetables, and sweep the houses. Neither do they sew clothes, grind grains, comb hair, walk in bare foot etc. During all these three days, they are seen in the best of dresses and decorations spending time visiting their friends or moving up and down on improvised swings. Special songs meant to be sung during these days only, can be heard everywhere. Though anonymous and composed extempore, much of these songs, through seer beauty of diction and sentiment, have earned permanence and have gone to make the very substratum of Orissa’s folk-poetry. Almost every Orissa village transforms into a great melee of colors as traditionally everybody is required to adorn new robes.Another common sight during these times are those of swings which naturally come up in every nook and corner of the villages.The entire surrounding of the villages turn into a cauldron of ricocheting songs that go up with the oscillating swing.The festival is also associated with the Oriya delicacy of "Pitha" (dough cakes)which is prepared in almost all household.

Panchuka Purnima

Panchuka Purnima is a sacred festival of Orissa and is celebrated in the month of Kartik. It is a practice among Oriyas to give up non-vegetarian food such as fish, meat and egg during the entire month of Kartik. However, those who are not in a position to abstain from non-vegetarian foods during the entire month, have the option to give it up for five days beginning from Panchuka. There is a popular proverb in Oriya which says that even the fish-hunting bird crane does not touch fish during these five days.

Nuakhai

One of the major agricultural festivals of Orissa, Nuakhai, is practiced among the tribal as well as non-tribal. Also known as Nabanna,it is however celebrated with more enthusiasm in Sambalpur region of Orissa. Nuakhai is observed to welcome the new rice-paddy of the season. It is celebrated as a way of thanks giving to Mother Earth in the month of Bhadrab. Hindu philosophy and pantheism believes Anna (food) to be Brahma. And since Anna is attributed to Goddesses Laxmi, on the day of Nuakhai, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped as well. The new rice paddy is offered to the Istha Devi of the family and the Village Devi and only then it is used for day today consumption of the people. It is the common belief of the people in Sambalpur that observation of Nua-khai frees them from sorrows unhappiness, diseases and loss of crop. Nua-Khai is a festival and celebration of happiness, different types of local sweets and foods are cooked. All the family members assemble together. After offering the new rice to the deity, they all sit together and take the new rice, along with Manda-Pitha Khiri-Puri etc. The blessings of the Ishta Devi and elders are then sought. In the evening it is habitual and obligatory to have meat, as it is believed that one who does not eat meat on the Nua-Khai day, shall be born as a heron in his future birth. What ever be the myth associated, Nuakhai is a celebration of the mass. People may stay in far of lands, for there livelihood, but in the Nua-Khai they come home to celebrate this festival with other members of the family. The Kolha tribe in Keonjhar celebrate Nuakhai in a different manner. On this day they cook new rice in a new pot, prepare fowl curry, brew rice beer and offer it all to their Dharam Banga or Sun God on one leaf and to their ancestors on another. Interestingly the entire process is carried on by men . Nuakhai Bhetghats are organized at various places to mark the occasion.

Naga Chaturthi

Naga Chaturthi Osha is a fasting observed by women in Orissa and is held on the 14th day of the bright fortnight of Kartik (September-October). This fast is mainly observed by women to protect the family members from snake bite. Lord Pingala, the serpent god, is worshipped in the form of a snake image. The image is made of gold, silver or of rice paste close to an ant-hill. The snake deity’s blessings are sought for the welfare of their families and children. Naga Chaturthi is one of the major festivals of Orissa. According to the myth, a merchant's wife had betrayed the trust of her 'Sangata' and also the serpent Mother Goddess (Naga Mata). All her six sons died of snake bite. The seventh son was married to a princess, who had faithfully observed this fast and she had been blessed by the Naga Mata to be 'Aisulakshani' or the virtuous wife whose husband would not die before she died. Therefore though her husband was accursed and was bitten to death, he was restored to life along with six elder brothers.

Magha Saptami

Magha Shukla Saptami, or Magha Saptami, is an auspicious day dedicated to Lord Surya, the sun god in Hinduism. It is one of the important festivals of orissa. It is observed on the seventh day of the Shukla Paksha (waxing phase of moon) of Magh Month (January – February). The most important ritual on the day is taking a holy dip (bathing ritual) on sunrise. The famous and colorful festival at Chandrabhaga that results in grand congregation of pilgrims from different parts of the world is celebrated during this period. The pilgrims take a holy dip at the Chandrabhaga Tirtha near the sea and welcome the rising Sun with prayers. A grand fair is held at Khandagiri near Bhubaneswar on the same day, which continues for a week. Magha Saptami is also observed at many other places in Orissa. Millions of devotees gather here before dawn, transforming sunrise into a religious event. It is believed that a dip in the river on this day cures all illness and the spiritual benefit is compared to that off the holy Ganga. To enthusiasts outside Orissa, this festival is also known as Chandrabhaga fair.

Lakshmi Puja

Observed with much pomp and grandeur in Dhenkanal town, Lakshmi Puja commences from the full moon day of Aswin and continues for a week. This autumn festival is one of the most popular and important festivals of Orissa. The goddess of wealth is worshipped for one day and in some places it is celebrated even for 7 to10 days. The festival is religiously celebrated by the business community in Orissa .Richly decorated and beautifully made idols Gaja Lakshmi are installed on the Puja mandaps and the festival instills a spirit of holiness and sanctity in the whole community so much so that people of other faiths participate in it with abundant warmth and sincerity. This festival of orissa is also known as Kumar Purnima. Girls and boys wear new clothes and enjoy a good time with family and friends. Girls observe fasting for the day. In the evening when the moon rises they again perform special Puja. They sing and dance the whole night. They also play a kind of game known as 'Puchi.

Hingula Jatra

Hingula Jatra is associated with the worship of ‘Shakti’ or Shiva on the day of Visubha Sankranti. It is believed to have germinated from the mass religious culture of the people under the spell of Tantrism in the remote past. Legend There is a well-linked belief among the local people that on this day of "Visuba Sankranti" Goddess 'Hingula' appears and removes all evil force. She is worshipped in the village street on her imaginary stride to the village. Offering to her include spitted new cloth, 'Pana' (sweet-water), butter lamp and raw mangoes. The Celebration Hingula Jatra:Festival of Orissa This festival of Orissa is celebrated with much austreity in the villages. Those who observe fasting, especially women are called 'Osati'. Prior to the day of worship the fasting worshippers (mostly men) move from village to village with the sacred-pitcher symbolizing the Goddess. This religious procession is accompanied by singing and dancing by devotees. These worshippers are called 'Patuas'. The man who dances with the holy-pitcher on his head wears a black skirt, a red blouse and a long piece of black cloth tightly covering the head and having equal length on both sides to flow. While dancing, the Patua holds the ends of the cloth and moves them artistically with stretched arms in perfect harmony to the rhythmic pattern. Sometimes he dances on the stilts and performs difficult 'Yogasanas' balancing on the head, the staff that holds the holy-pitcher (Ghata). A big brass bell played with a cane-stick provides various peculiar rhythms. Sometimes country drums are also played. Various Types of Patuas The Chief of the Patuas is called 'Bada-Patua' or 'Katha Patua'. All the Patuas observe fasting on this day. In the afternoon they assemble near a tank or river where all the rituals take place. The priest performing the rites is always a non-Brahmin known as 'Jadua' or 'Dehuri'. Men, women and children of the villages congregate in mass to glimpse this event. The surrounding reverberates with auspicious 'Hulahuli' (a shrill sound made by wagging the tongue inside the mouth) and 'Hari Bol' cheers of men. Then, sharp iron hooks are pierced through the skins on the back of the Patuas. During this ceremony the morale of the Patuas is boosted through holy cheers of the onlookers and they themselves loudly continue singing in praise of "Hingula" or "Mangala". Jhamu Yatra In some areas "Jhamu Yatra" is organised. Persons observing 'Brata' or vow in honor of the deity walk on thorns and on the bed of live charcoal amidst holy cheers and loud drumming. Those who walk on fire are known as 'Nian Patua' ('Nian' for fire) and those on thorns are called 'Kanta Patua' ('Kanta' for thorn). Some worshippers stand on edged swords and are carried on open palanquins. They are called 'Khanda Patua' ('Khanda' for sword). Some of them show some feats in deep water. They are called 'Pani Patuas' ('Pani' for water). Especially all these festivals are celebrated on a Shiva or Shakti Shrine. Therefore, scholars are of opinion that these rituals, of inflicting injury to the persons by the devotees are related to the Tantra culture. By doing these they try to draw the kind attention of the God or Goddess whom they seek to propitiate.

Guru Purnima

Guru Purnima or Asadh Purnima is celebrated on the full moon day of the Asadh month. The day is celebrated in the honor of the teachers who take pains in educating us. Students and aspirants get up early in the morning at Brahma Muhurta and pay their obeisance to their teachers. This day is also celebrated in commemoration of the birth date of the great saint Ved Vyas who had, apart from editing the four Vedas and 108 Puranas composed the great epic of Mahabharat.

Garbhana Sankranti

Garbhana Sankranti is a festival, unique to Orissa, and is celebrated on the first day of the solar month of Kartika, on the same day as Mahashtami. This day is like a day of milestone achievement for farmers. Rice plants are now with ears of corn in their womb. This is compared to pregnancy of a woman and hence the name 'Garbhana' (meaning pregnant). These pregnant rice plants represent Lakshmi the Goddess of Wealth and fertility and are worshipped with offerings in the paddy fields. It is believed that a huge quantity of corn would be harvested as a result of this display of respect to the paddy crops. The practice is also believed to lessen the effect of famine or flood on the agricultural field and the crops are protected from pests and insects. Dhana (Wheat grains) and Kara Branches (a medicinal plant with anti insecticidal properties) are offered in worship and taken to the agricultural field for plantation. Different kind of dishes are prepared to satisfy the Goddess Laxmi. All the members of the family take meals to their heart's content believing that they will thus always be supplied with dainty dishes. Also known as Tula Sankranti,this is an important festival of orissa.

Dhanu Jatra

hanu Jatra is a distinctive festival celebrated in the small town of Bargarh to commemorate the visit of Lord Krishna to Mathura. It is a distinguishing form of annual festivity, in which the small isolated Bargah town of Orissa, turns into a massive open-air theatre. The life and activities of Lord Sri Krishna starting from the killing of Demon Putana to the subduing of Kaliya snake is performed over a period of eleven days. Unlike stage shows, this play moves through different parts of the village. The venue changes along with the change in scenes. The wedding procession of Devaki and Vasudev, for example, is done in one village while the scene in Gopapur where Krishna was growing with the villagers is done in another village. Thus the town of Bargarh becomes Mathura, the river Jira becomes Yamuna and the village Amrapalli on the other bank of the river becomes Gopa. Different acts of the Puranic descriptions are performed at their right places and the spectators move from place to place to see the performance of actors in different episodes. The Dhanu Jatra iis a special festival of Orissa and is celebrated by preparing a special delicacy made of sweetened rice flakes called Dhanu Muan which is offered to Lord Jagannath. Formerly Dhanu Jatra occurred in mime, as background singers in chorus delivered episodes from the medieval Oriya epic, Mathura Mangala i.e. ‘Panegyric of Mathura’. Now prose dialogue has been introduced. All performers are amateurs belonging to both villages. Villagers gather in thousands to witness the performance. The mode of presentation provides scope for mass participation as well.

Dhanu Sankranti

Dhanu Sankranti is celebrated on the first day of lunar Pousha month. The month of Pousha is considered the month of plenty. After collecting the harvest there is a festival of general rejoicing with special sweets of 'Muan', which is offered to Lord Jagannath in puja. A grand street play is held on this day in the Bargarh town of Orissa enacting the various episodes of Lord Krishna's life. The entire township stretching over five kilometers serves as an open-air theatre and a large number of people participate in it with pomp and splendor. The festival is one of the important festivals of Orissa.

Chitou Amavasya

Lord Jagannath is the presiding deity of Orissa and many festivals ascribed to Him are also devotionally followed in Oriya households. Chitalagi or Chitaou Amavasya is one such festival of orissa which falls on the new-moon day of the Sravana (August). On this day, in the temple of Jagannath, the deity bears a golden mark (Chita) on the forehead. A special variety of rice-cake known as ‘Chitou Pitha’ is given to the deity as food-offering. This variety is also prepared in every household of the Oriyas of the coastal districts. In rural areas this is more or less observed as an agricultural festival. On this occasion the farmers worship the paddy-fields. After a purificatory bath in the morning, they go to their respective paddy-fields with cake, flowers, milk etc and pray the fields to yield a good crop. It is in the primitive tradition to appease evil powers through worship whether they are animals, serpents, insects or plants. People worship and pray them to avoid their wrath. Pilas (snails) breed enormously in the paddy-fields and tanks during the rainy season. Farmers while working bare-footed in the fields often get their feet cut by the sharp edge of their shells. Therefore, during the festival the pilas is appeased as a female form of evil power known as 'Gandeisuni' (Genda is pila). The farmer girls go to the fields and while offering cakes pray. "Oh; Gandeisuni, be appeased and do not cut the legs of my father or brother". In Sambalpur, this festival is known as 'Harali kans'. People of the areas believe it to be a day of the witch, Tandei who moves in the dark to suck the blood of the children. To save children from her wrath mothers draw peculiar designs below the naval zone of the children before the night falls. As they believe that would scare away witch, a common variety of rice-cake Chakuli Pitha is offered to the witch to be appeased and thereafter the cake is taken by all.

Chaitra Parba

The Chaitra Parba or Chhau Festival is the major festival of the tribal people of Koraput. It commences from 10th/11th April every year and continues for three days concluding on 'Mahavishuva Sankranti Day' at Baripada. It is also observed by the Bhuiyan trihbal of Mayurbhanj, Sudargarh and Keonjhar. The festival of Chaitra Parba is known as Bija Pandu among the Koya tribals. The Koya villages are situated on patches of clearings in the midst of dense forests. In each village there happens to be a Bijigudi or house of God. The tribes worship, 'Gudimata', the Mother Earth and also the earth whom they call Bhumu. During the festival they worship the Gods with liquor and sacrifice an animal or bird. The Bijapandu is the sacred seed from which the festival takes it name. During the festival the men go out hunting and fishing in groups and return home before dark. During the days the women keep on singing and dancing, waiting for their men to come. In the evenings they unite, feast, drink and dance together. The Koyas have special variety of dance for the festival. Men wear huge headgears of bison-horns which are richly decorated with peacock feathers and cowries. The drums are cylindrical and unusually long. Women wear brass-caps and hold sticks fitted with tinkling bells which they strike during the dance in between the beats. They dance in circles singing songs of love. Horse dances called Chaiti Ghoda Nach is organized. Wooden horses mounted by man dance to the tune of Dhola and Mahuri accompanied by songs composed by local poets. The dancing party consists of two dancers, one male and one female, a drummer and a piper. People from across the world visit Orissa en masse just to enjoy this festival and see the tribal festivities in full glory.

Baseli Puja

Baseli Puja is also known as Chaiti Ghoda. In the month of Chaitra there is an exclusive festival for the bona fide fishermen community of Orissa who are popularly known as "Keuta" ('Kaivarta'). This festival is held for a full month beginning from Chaitra Praba (Full moon of Chaitra in March) and ending with Baisakh Purnima (Full moon in April). During this festival of orissa, Baseli, the horse-headed deity of the community is propitiated. She is considered to be the tutelary deity of the community. She is considered as a form of Mother Goddess who was earlier formless. Later she took various forms according to the conception and needs of the various communities living all over the country. Inexplicably connected with the festival is the Dummy-Horse dance of the community. On the auspicious day of Chaitra Purnami, the Kaibartas worship a Bamboo with vermillion, candle-paste, butter-lamp etc. Then the bamboo is split ceremonially into pieces out of which only twelve are taken out for preparation of the frame of the dummy-horse. The frame is dyed red with red clay and then covered with a 'Pata' (indigenous silk cloth). Then a painted horse-head made out of wood is fixed to the frame. A garland of 'Mandara' (Hibiscus) flowers is placed on the neck during worship. This particular garland is always intended for mother goddess. This dummy-horse is worshipped till the eighth day of the dark fortnight after which it is taken out for dance. A man enters the cavity and hangs the frame on the shoulders and then dances to the rhythm of 'Dhol' (country drum). 'Mahuri' is the only wind instrument played during the dance. Songs are sung intermittently in votive dedication to the deity. Sometimes the dancer gets possessed and falls in to trance. Then somebody else replaces him. Two other characters "Chadhua-Chadhuani" or "Rauta-Rautani" also sing and dance. The male character dances with a long staff in his hand symbolizing the profession of fishermen's rowing of boats. The female character is played by a man. Both of them sing songs of love and daily household chores. Then a song combat ensues which lasts for the whole night. During this portion of the dance the dummy horse is ceremonially placed in the centre and the performance is held in front of it, people sitting all around. The dummy-horse dance is mainly prevalent in the coastal districts of Cuttack and Puri. In Puri the dummy-horses are profusely decorated with flowers and the 'Tahia' (Archaic head-gear of flowers) presents a magnificent show during dance. When the festival ends the horse-head is taken out ceremonially from the frame and is preserved in a temple. Next year during the festival it is again brought out and repainted for the ceremony.

Apara Paksha

Apara Ekadasi fasting is observed during the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in the month of Jyeshtha (May – June).It marks the beginning of a period of 15 days to perform shraddha for paying tributes to one’s departed ancestors. It is performed wishing peaceful stay of the departed ones in heaven. Apara Paksha Ekadasi is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and is observed on the 11th day of waning and waxing phase of moon in a traditional Hindu calendar. It is believed that observing Apara Ekadasi redeems sin and leads to Moksha (Liberation). All the usual rules associated with Ekadasi fasting is observed on this day. Those who observe partial fast avoid rice on this day. Apara Ekadasi fastings are one of the major festivals of orissa.