Makar Sankranti:It is celebrated on the occasion of uttarayan (northward journey) of the Sun-god. A special semi-liquid preparation called
Makara Chaula is offered to the god as prasad and distributed among one and all. (Makara Chaula
is prepared by combining semi-pasted rice, milk, scrubbed coconut, banana, chopped cucumber, cottage cheese,
sugar, ginger and black pepper - all stirred together).
Sri Panchami:This day students seek the blessings of Devi
Saraswati - the goddess of arts and learning. Puja is performed before the image of the goddess and students observe
fast till they make a floral offering (pushpanjali) to her.
Maha Shiva Ratri: It is the day of Lord Shiva's appearance in the universe. To celebrate the occasion devotees of Lord Shiva perform
puja in temples during the day. There is a custom of remaining awake throughout the night by chanting or listening
to the hymns in praise of Lord Shiva.
Phagu Dasami: This is the celebration of romantic union between Radha and Krishna. Beginning this day images of both Radha
and Krishna are placed on a swing and are worshipped by smearing them with abir (coloured powder). This ritual continues
till Dola Purnima.
Dola Purnima: This is the concluding day of six-day long worship of Radha and Krishna, which starts on Phagu Dasami. It is celebrated
on the full moon day in the Odia month of Phaalguna. The colour festival of Holi is celebrated usually on the day following
Rama Navami: As in the rest of India,
Rama Navami is also celebrated throughout Odisha as the birth day of Lord Rama. It is also the celebration of his wedding
with goddess Sita. Pujas are offered by visiting the temples of Lord Rama.
Chaitra Purnima: A month-long puja of
goddess Mangala begins this day (usually on all Tuesdays of the month). Fishermen worship their fishing net, boat and
the waters seeking blessings of the almighty for prosperity.
Akshaya Trutiya: It is the day when farmers auspiciously begin sowing paddy seeds in their fields. This is also known as 'muthi
anukula’. The process of construction of the grand chariot of Lord Jagannath for
the occasion of Rath Yatra also begins this day by following the prescribed rituals.
Sudasha Brata: Sudash Brata is observed
whenever there is a combination of (1) Shukla Paksha (2) Thursdayand
(3) Dasami. Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped during the day by offering ten 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). To know more about the ritual, you may download the traditional Sudasha Brata
Katha in Oriya by clicking on the link available at the bottom of this page
Maha Vishuba Sankranti: It is also known
as Mesha Sankranti. It is on this day that Sun enters the sign Libra. The Odia community celebrates New year
on the occasion. A sweet concoction known as pana is prepared and distributed among one and all. (Pana
is prepared by mixing different types of fruits, water, milk, pulp of bela, curd and sugar). Poetry reading
sesions and literary functions are also organised this day.
Savitri Brata: It
is observed by all married women for the well-being of their husbands. Women performing the puja have to observe fast
(eating only fruits and soaked raw mung dal during the day, after performing puja). During the puja they read
out or listen toSavirti Brata Kathawhich
is a poetic rendition of how Maha Sati Savitri saved her husband from the clutches of Yamaraj by dint
of her virtues and devotion. (You may download the Savitri Brata Katha in Oriya or English by clicking
on the links available at the bottom of this page.) It is a custom for women to receive money on the occasion from
their parents / brothers towards expenses for the puja.
Shitala Sasthi: This is the
celebration of Lord Shiva’s wedding with goddess Parvati. In villages the wedding celebrations are arranged in a grand
manner. The Marriage procession (barat) of Lord Shiva is organized and delicacies are distributed among people in celebration
of the celestial wedding.
this three-day period of Raja, women get their right to rest and enjoyment. They are not supposed to work during
these days. It is believed that Mother Earth undergoes her period of menstruation during these three days. Swings
are tied under branches of large trees so that women and girls could enjoy swinging while the husbands and other
male-members in the family take care of cooking. It is a custom to relish Poda Pitha (see Oriya Foodspage for recipe) during the festival. Women are strictly forbidden to perform pujaof any kind either at home or in the temples during this period.
Rath Yatra: Lord Jagannath along with his brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadracomes out of the precincts of his temple in Puri for a visit to his aunt’s place
at Gundicha Mandir which is about five kms 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 of 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
through out the world, where ever there are temples of Lord Jagannath.
Bahuda Yatra: It is the day of return journey of Lord Jagannath from the Gundicha Mandir. It is celebrated with the same pomp and
gaiety as that of Ratha Yatra.
Chitalagi Amabasya: Also known as Chitau Amabasya.
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 (See recipe on our 'Oriya Foods' page.)
Gamha Purnima (Rakhi): The
practice of tying rakhis on the wrists of brothers this day is only a recent phenomenonin the Odia community as imitated from the north Indian communities. Originally in Orissa this day marks
the worship of Lord Balabhadra. Bullocks and cows are also worshipped by smearing sindur marks on their head.
The youngsters gather in the streets and demonstrate a traditional high jumping skill called Gamha Dian.
Ganesh Chaturthi: 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.
Nuakhai: It is celebrated as a way of thanks giving to Mother Earth. Celebrated
especially in western orissa on a predetermined day in the Oriya month of Bhadrab 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 east.
Apara Paksha: It marks the beginning of a
period of 15 days to perform shraddha for paying tributes to one’sdeparted
ancestors. It is performed wishing peaceful stay of the departed ones in heaven.
Dasahara: As in other states
Dasaharaalso 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 the goddess is immersed in river. In Orissa
this day at around mid-day all types 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 Soma Nath is read out. (Somanath Brata Katha
in Oriya may be downloaded by clicking on the link available at the bottom of this page). The offerings before the god include
Manda Pitha ( a delicacy made of wheat flour with 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.
Kumara Purnima: It is particularly a festival of kumaris . However it has now evolved into being a festival of kumars
as well. The young ones enjoy this festival wearing new dresses. In the evening they worship the full moon in the sky. In
the southern parts of Orissa the young and old alike celebrate this festival. Playing of some indoor game on this day is considered
mandatory. It is said that one who does not play this day would be born as a toad in the next birth.
Dipavali: 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 ancesters 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 Orissa. How ever this ritual has now been widely adapted
from the north Indian states.
Panchuka: It is a practice among pious Oriyas to give up non-vegetarian food such as fish, meat and egg during the entire month
of Kartik. How ever 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 of crane does not touch fish during these five days.
Kartik Purnima: It is an occasion to commemorate the glorious prosperity of Orissa in the olden days when the
sadhabas (maritime traders) practised maritime trade in far off countries. They were traditionally sailing off
into the sea every year on the day of Kartik Purnima while their spouses used to see them off by conducting aarti.
As a token remembrance of the past glory, this day Oriya women sail off small toy-like boats in the rivers and perform
puja early in the morning.
Prathamastami: It is an occasion to perform puja for the well-being of the first child in the family. A delicacy called Haladi
Patra Enduri Pitha (idlis filled with sweet stuffing and wrapped in green leaves of turmeric plant before being
steamed)is the specialty of the day.
Manabasa Gurubar: On every Thursdayin the Oriya month of Margasirgoddess Lakshmi is worshiped with utmost devotion by Oriya women. They
wake up very early in the morning and clean the house with broom-sticks, for it is believed that goddess Lakshmi would never
visit the house if the house remains dirty and untidy. The entrance as well as the door step of the house is decorated with artistic
Orissan alpana (called chita or jhoti). A pot made of bamboo canes used in the olden days for measuring
paddy (known as mana) is filled upto the brink with freshly harvested paddy. It is believed that goddess Lakshmi visits
every house-hold during the puja. It is a custom to recite the Laxmi Purana, written by ancient poet Balaram
Das, while performing the puja. (You may download the Lakshmi Purana in Oriya and English; and
also listen to the audio of it by clicking on the links available at the bottom of this page.)
Dhanu Sankranti: This
festival is celebrated by preparing a special delicacy made of sweetened riceflakes called Dhanu 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 splendour.