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Updated by RashmiRanjan Sahu on Nov 13, 2016
Headline for Festivals of Odisha
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Festivals of Odisha

Orissa has its own set of 13 festivals that are celebrated throughout the year. The festivals of Orissa are designed in such a manner that it has relevance with science, spiritualism, history, mythology etc. Apart from the traditional festivals that are celebrated by people in Orissa, there are these festivals that the tribal inhabitants of the state celebrate with much fervor. The tribal festivals of Orissa are noted for their energy, spirit and color.

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Naga Chaturthi

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.

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Sudasha Brata

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).

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Panchuka Purnima

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.

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Lakshmi Puja

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.

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Guru Purnima

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.

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Durga Puja

Durga Puja

Durga Puja (September-October) symbolizes the commemoration of good over evil. Durga Puja in Orissa is celebrated with much fervor and pomp. The millennium city of Cuttack distinguishes itself for having the largest number of Puja Mandaps in the country only after Kolkata. Life comes to a stand-still in the city of Cuttack as crowds pour over the Puja Mandaps to enjoy the festivities. The entire city gets flooded with crowd and lights. Commercial activities take a huge leap during this festival and the entire city rejoices in the festive air. On the day succeeding 'Vijaya Dasami', the last day of Dussera, the images are taken in a spectacular procession for immersion in the river Kathajodi.

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Dhanu Sankranti

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.

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Apara Paksha

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.

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