Festivities and celebrations lay in the core of the heart of every Odia. There's in every case some festival or the other consistently every month of the year in an Odia calendar. Some of which are even popular worldwide for how largely it is observed and also for the legendary folk tales that are associated with it.
The following are 10 such upcoming Odia festivals (according to dates in 2021) that the world recognizes for its glorified celebration.
1. Ratha Jatra (12 July 2021)
Lord Jagannath along with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra comes out of the precincts of his temple in Puri for a visit to his aunty's place at Gundicha Mandir which is about five kilometres away. The three deities undertake their journey in three huge chariots pulled by thousands of devotees. It is said that it is an occasion for Lord Jagannath to give an opportunity to his darshan to the people whose entry is forbidden into his temple. (Non-Hindus are not allowed to enter the temple). Though this festival had its beginning in Puri, now-a-days it is also being observed throughout the world, wherever there are temples of Lord Jagannath.
2. Bahuda Jatra (20 July 2021)
It is the day of the return journey of Lord Jagannath from the Gundicha Mandir. It is celebrated with the same pomp and gaiety as that of Ratha Yatra.
3. Chitalagi Amavasya (8 August 2021)
Also known as Chitau Amavasya. Lord Jagannath is embellished with a golden mark on the forehead called Chitta this day. In homes, a special pitha known as Chitau Pitha is prepared and offered to Lord Jagannath in Puja.
4. Gamha Purnima (22 August 2021)
The practice of tying rakhis on the wrists of brothers this day is only a recent phenomenon in the Odia community as imitated from the north Indian communities. Originally in Odisha, this day marks the worship of Lord Balabhadra. Bullocks and cows are also worshipped by smearing their heads with sindoor (vermillion). The youngsters gather in the streets and demonstrate a traditional high jumping skill called Gamha Dian.
5. Ganesh Chaturthi (10 September 2021)
Ganesh Chaturhi is observed by the Oriya community for invoking the blessings of Lord Ganesha as is the custom among other communities in India. Students observe fasting in the day till they make a floral offering (pushpanjali) before the image of Lord Ganesha seeking his blessings for acquiring wisdom.
6. Nuakhai (11 September 2021)
It is celebrated as a way of thanking Mother Earth. Celebrated especially in Western Odisha on a predetermined day in the Oriya month of Bhadraba it features partaking of the first grains of paddy after harvesting the kharif crop. All in the family and community join together to partake of the holy offering in leaf cups sitting on the ground facing towards the east.
7. Apara Paksha (20 September - 6 October 2021)
It marks the beginning of a period of 15 days to perform shraddha for paying tributes to ones departed ancestors. It is performed to wish a peaceful stay for the departed ones in heaven.
8. Dasahara (15 October 2021)
As in other states in India, Dasahara also marks the end of four-day long Durga puja celebrations in Orissa. On this day the valedictory puja of Devi Durga is done, and the earthen image of the goddess is immersed in the river. In Odisha, this day at around midday all types of vehicles such as cars, buses, trucks, bicycles, and bullock-carts are worshipped by invoking the presence of Devi Durga into them. In the evening, women perform a special puja called Somanath Brata. It is a form of worshipping Lord Shiva. A treatise narrating the tale is Somanath is readout. The offerings before the idol include Manda Pitha ( a delicacy made of wheat flour with a stuffing of scrubbed coconut, sugar, and spices), ten types of fruits, and ten types of flowers. After completion of the Puja in the evening, women break their day-long fast.
9. Kumara Purnima (20 October 2021)
It is particularly a festival of kumaris (unmarried girls). However, it has now evolved into being a festival of kumaras (unmarried boys) as well. The young ones enjoy this festival by wearing new dresses. In the evening they worship the full moon in the sky. In the southern parts of Odisha, the young and old celebrate this festival alike. Playing some indoor games on this day is considered mandatory. It is said that one who does not play this day would be born as a toad in their next birth.
10. Deepavali (4 November 2021)
Also known in the northern states of India as Diwali, this festival is mainly celebrated as a remembrance of Pitru Purusha, or ancestors. Lighted sticks or diyas are shown towards the sky in the evening seeking the blessings of ancestors and praying for their well-being. Bursting of fire-crackers and decorating houses with candles and diyas this day is not a custom original to Odisha. However, this ritual has now been widely adapted from the north Indian states.
And the list goes on.
We hope you enjoyed reading about the festivals and customs of Odisha. But there are more to this list, which we will be posting as a Part 2.