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Culture of Odisha

jagannath-templeOdisha 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.

The 'Golden Triangle' of Bhubaneswar,Puri and Konark 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.

Through centuries Odisha has retained its cultural identity within the mainstream of pan-Indian cultural. A land of rich and divers artistic achievements, Odisha's art and culture are the products of long historical process in which the spiritual, philosophical and the human dimensions have merged to yield the finest effects of a cultured and civilized life. The cultural heritage of Odisha is reflected in its vibrant art forms. Culture imparts flavor and animation to the social and religious activities of the people. It flows as an undercurrent of inspiration below the surface of daily life and act as a powerful link in the chain of human fellowship and universal concord.

Dance

odissi-danceOdissi dance and music are classical forms. Odissi has a tradition of 2,000 years, and finds mention in the Natyashastra of Bharatamuni, possibly written circa 200 BCE. However, the dance form nearly went extinct during the British period, only to be revived after India's independence by a few proponents, such as Guru Deba Prasad Das, Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Raghunath Dutta and Kelucharan Mohapatra. Odissi classical dance is about the divine love of Krishna and his consort Radha, mostly drawn from compositions by the notable Oriya poet Jayadeva, who lived in the 12th century CE.

Chhau dance (or Chau dance) is a form of tribal martial dance attributed to origins in Mayurbhanj princely state of Odisha and seen in the Indian states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha. There are three subtypes of the dance, based on the original places where the subtypes were developed. Seraikella Chau was developed in Seraikella, the administrative head of the Seraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand, Purulia Chau in Purulia district of West Bengal and Mayurbhanj Chau in Mayurbhanj district of Odisha.

Mahari Dance is one of the important dance forms of Odisha. Mahari dance, originated in the temples of Odisha. History of Odisha provides evidence of the Devadasi cult in Odisha. Devadasis were dancing girls who were dedicated to the temples of Odisha. The Devadasis in Odisha were known as Maharis and the dance performed by them came to be known as Mahari Dance.

It was during the reign of Chodagangadeva, Maharis were employed in the temples of Puri. After Chodagangadeva's death, Ananabhimadeva built Natyamandapa in the Jagannath temple for the dance performances inside the temple. Moreover, in those days, the Mahari dancers belonged to different categories namely, the Nachunis (dancers), the Bahara Gauni, the Bhitara Gauni and the Gaudasanis.


The Mahari Dancers of Odisha are supposed to follow certain restrictions, such as:

  • They cannot enjoy.
  • They should dance on the ceremonies connected to Lord Jagannath.
  • They should adhere to the specifications made by the Shastras.
  • They must always wear clean clothes.
  • The dancer cannot be physically handicapped.
  • At the time of the performances, the dancers are not supposed to look at the audience.
  • The Maharis are married to the Lord at the age of nine.
  • Before their performances, the Mahari dancers pay their obeisance to the Lord.
  • In Odisha, one can also come across another type of Mahari dancers, who are known as Samarpada Niyoga. The duty of the Samarpada Niyoga is to dance during the ceremonial procession of the deities. These dancers perform during the Ratha Yatra, Jhulana Yatra, Dola Yatra, etc.

The Western Odisha has also great variety of dance forms unique to Odisha culture. The children's verses are known as "Chhiollai", "Humobauli" and "Dauligit"; the adolescent poems are "Sajani", "Chhata", "Daika", "Bhekani"; the youth compositions are "Rasarkeli", "Jaiphul", "Maila Jada", "Bayamana", "Gunchikuta" and "Dalkhai"; the work-man's poetry comprises "Karma" and "Jhumer" pertaining to Lord Vishwakarma and the "Karamashani" Goddess. The professional entertainers perform Dand, Danggada, Mudgada, Ghumra, Sadhana, Sabar-Sabarein, Disdigo, Nachina-Bajnia, Samparda and Sanchar. They are performed during all occasions with varieties of rhythm and rhyme.

Pala is a unique form of balladry in Odisha, which artistically combines elements of theatre, classical Odissi music, highly refined Oriya and Sanskrit poetry, wit, and humour. The literal meaning of Pala is turn. It is more sophisticated than the other Oriya ballad tradition, Daskathia. Pala can be presented in three different ways. First one is known as Baithaki Pala or `seated`, in which the performers sit on the ground throughout. The other one is Thia Pala or `standing`, which is considerably more popular and aesthetically more satisfying. The third one is called the Badi Pala, which is a kind of Thia Pala, in which two groups vie for excellence. This is the most entertaining, as there is an element of competition.

Gotipua dance is another form of dance in Odisha. In Oriya colloquial language Gotipua means single boy. The dance performance done by a single boy is known as Gotipua dance. When decadence and declination came in to Devadasi or Mahari tradition due to various reasons this Gotipua dance tradition evolved as sequel as these performance were practiced to please God. It is totally unknown that when exactly this danced form came in to practice. Still some historians say that this dance tradition appears to have originated during the region of Prataprudradev (1497 CE to 1540 CE) and gained popularity in the subsequent Muslim rule. Ray Remananda the famous Vaishnavite Minister of King Pratapruda and ardent follower of Sri Chaitanya is the originator of this boy dancing tradition, as the Vasishnavas were not approving of the females in to dance practices so it possible that the dance tradition must have come after Sri Chaitanya came to Odisha. The Gotipua Dance Tradition is now seen in the village Raghurajpur situated 10 km away from Puri town, situated on the banks of river Bhargabi. It is otherwise known as the Crafts Village as various Odishan handicrafts' craftsmen reside in this village contributing their expertise in Pattachitra painting and other handicrafts.

Literature

Odia (Oriya) language, Indian literature and List of Oriya Writers.

The history of Odia literature has been mapped by historians along the following stages, Old Oriya (900-1300 CE), Early Middle Oriya (1300-1500 CE), Middle Oriya (1500-1700 CE), Late Middle Oriya (1700-1850 CE) and Modern Oriya (from 1850 CE till the present). But this rude categorization could not skillfully draw the real picture on account of development and growth of Odia literature. Here, we split the total periods in different stages such as: Age of Charya Literature, Age of Sarala Das, Age of Panchasakha, Age of Upendra Bhanja, Age of Radhanath, Age of Satyabadi, Age of Marxism or Pragati yuga, Age of Romanticism or Sabuja Yuga, Post Independent Age.

The beginnings of Oriya poetry coincide with the development of Charya Sahitya, the literature thus started by Mahayana Buddhist poets.This literature was written in a specific metaphor named "Sandhya Bhasha" and the poets like Luipa, Kanhupa are from the territory of Orissa.The language of Charya was considered as Prakrita.

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 152,000 verses compared to 100,000 in the Sanskrit version. Among many of his poems and epics, he is best remembered for his Sarala Mahabharata. Chandi 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 him 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 Odia literature. Upendra Bhanja was conferred with the title Kabi Samrat of Odia 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.

The first Oriya printing typeset was cast in 1836 by the Christian missionaries which heralded a great revolution in Odia literature, instead of palm leaf inscription. The books were being printed and the periodicals and journals were published. The first Oriya Magazine of Bodha Dayini was published from Balasore in 1861. The main object of this magazine was to promote Odia literature and to draw attention to the lapses in government policy. The first Oriya paper, The Utkal Deepika made its appearance in 1866 under the editorship of late Gouri Sankar Ray with the help of late Bichitrananda. The publication of these papers during the last part of the 19th century encouraged the modern literature and acted as a media to provide a wide readers range for the writers, The educated intellectuals came in contact with the English Literature and got influenced. Radhanath Ray (1849-1908) is the prime figure, who tried to write his poems with the influence of Western Literature. He wrote Chandrabhaga, Nandikeshwari, Usha, Mahajatra, Darbar and Chilika were the long poems or Kavyas. Fakir Mohan Senapati (1843-1918), the prime figure of modern Oriya Fiction Prose is the product of that generation. He was considered the Vyasakabi or founder poet of Odia language. Fakir Mohan Senapati is well known for his novel Chha Maana Atha Guntha. It is the first Indian novel to deal with the exploitations of landless peasants by the Feudal Lords. It was written much before the October revolution of Russia or much before the emerging of marxist ideas in India.

With rise of freedom movement, a literary thought emerged with the influence of Gandhiji, and idealistic trend of Nationalism formed as a new trend in Odia literature. Much respected personality of Odishan culture and history, Utkalmani Gopabandhu Dash (1877-1928) had founded a school at a village Satyabadi near Sakshigopal of Odisha and an idealistic literary movement influenced the writers of this age. Godabarisha Mohapatra, Kuntala-Kumari Sabat are the other renowned names of this age.

With the emergence of soviet Russia in 1935, Communist party was formed in Odisha and a periodicals named Adhunika was published by the party. Bhagawati Charan Panigrahi and Sachidananda Routray were the founder member and writer/poets of the party. Bhagawati turned to a fiction writer and though Sachidananda Routray (who is more known as "Sachi Routra" or Sachi Babu) has written some of the short stories but was actually remembered for his poems. Influenced by the romantic thoughts of Rabindranath Tagore, during the thirties when the progressive marxian movements were in full flow in Odia literature, Kalindi Charan Panigrahi, the brother of Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi, the founder of Marxian Trend in Odisha, formed a group during 1920 called Sabuja Samiti. Mayadhar Mansingh was a renowned poet of that time though he was considered as a romantic poet, but he kept the distance away from the influence of Rabindranath Tagore successfully. As the successor of Sachi babu, two poets Guruprasad Mohanty (popularly known as Guru Prasad) (19242004) and Bhanuji Rao came with T. S. Eliot and published their co-authored poetry book Nutan Kabita. Later, Ramakanta Rath modified the ideas. Sitakanta Mohapatra, Soubhagya Kumar Mishra, Rajendra Kishore Panda, Brajanath Rath, Jayanta Mahapatra, Kamalakant Lenka, J. P. Das, Brahmotri Mohanty, Mamata Dash, Amaresh Patnaik, Hrushikesh Mallick, Sunil Kumar Prusty, Sucheta Mishra, Aparna Mohanty, Pritidhara Samal, Basudev Sunani, Gajanan Mishra, Bharat Majhi are some poets of this contemporary age. In the Post-Independence era Oriya fiction assumed a new direction. The trend which Fakir Mohan had started actually developed more after 1950s. Gopinath Mohanty (1914-1991), Surendra Mohanty and Manoj Das (b. 1934) are considered as three jewels of this time. The other significant fiction writers are Chandrasekhar Rath, Shantanu Acharya, Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, Rabi Patnaik, Jagadish Mohanty, Kanheilal Das, Satya Mishra, Ramchandra Behera, Padmaja Pal, Yashodhara Mishra and Sarojini Sahoo are few writers whose writings have created a new age in the field of fiction. After 1970, the women wing of Oriya writers emerged as a prime voice of feminism. Jayanti Ratha, Susmita Bagchi, Paramita Satpathy, Hiranmayee Mishra, Chirashree Indrasingh, Supriya Panda, Gayatri Saraf, Mamata Chowdhry are few fiction writer in this period. But, among all the women writers Sarojini Sahoo played a significant role for her feministic and sexuality approach in fiction. For feminism she is considered as the Simone de Beauvoirof India, though theoretically she denies the Hegelian theory of "Others" developed by Simone in her The Second Sex. Unlike to Simone, Sarojini claims the women are "Others" from masculine perspective but as a human being, she demands for similar right as Plato recommended.

In the field of drama, the traditional Oriya theatre is the folk opera, or Jatra, which flourishes in the rural areas of Odisha. Modern theatre is no longer commercially viable. But in the 1960, experimental theatre made a mark through the works of Manoranjan Das, who pioneered the new theatre movement with his brand of experimentalism. Bijay Mishra, Biswajit Das, Kartik Rath, Ramesh Chandra Panigrahi, Ratnakar Chaini, Ranjit Patnaik continued the tradition.

As a whole, we can say, nowadays Odia literature is a strong wing of Indian Literature to represent in world forum.

Odissi music and Music of Odisha (Orissa)

Sixteenth century witnessed the compilation of literature on music. The four important treatises written during that time are Sangitamava Chandrika, Natya Manorama, Sangita Kalalata and Gita Prakasha. Odissi music is a combination of four distinctive kinds of music, namely, Chitrapada, Dhruvapada, Panchal and Chitrakala. When music uses artwork, it is known as Chitikala. A unique feature of Oriya music is the Padi, which consists of singing of words in fast beat.

Being a part of the rich culture of Odisha (Orissa), its music is also as much charming and colorful. Odissi music is more two thousand five hundred years old and comprises a number of categories. Of these, the five broad ones are Tribal Music, Folk music, Light Music, Light-Classical Music and Classical Music. Anyone who is trying to understand the culture of Odisha must take into account its music, which essentially forms a part of its legacy.

In the ancient times, there were saint-poets who wrote the lyrics of poems and songs that were sung to rouse the religious feelings of people. It was by the eleventh century that the music of Odisha, in the form of Triswari, Chatuhswari, and Panchaswari, underwent transformation and was converted into the classical style.

Folk music like Yogi Gita, Kendara Gita, Dhuduki Badya, Prahallad Natak, Palla, Sankirtan, Mogal Tamasa, Gitinatya, Kandhei Nacha, Kela Nacha, Ghoda Nacha, Danda Nacha and Daskathia are popular in Odisha.

Almost every tribal group has their own distinct song and dance style.

Structural Art

Other cultural attractions include the Jagannatha Temple in Puri, known for its annual Rath Yatra or Car Festival, the unique and beautiful applique artwork of Pipili, silver filigree ornamental works from Cuttack, the Patta Chitras (palm leaf paintings), famous stone utensils of Nilgiri (Balasore) and various tribal influenced cultures. The Sun Temple at Konark is famous for its architectural splendour while the Sambalpuri textiles equals it in its artistic grandeur. The Saree of Odisha is much in demand throughout the entire world. The different colors and varieties of sarees in Odisha make them very popular among the women of the state. The handloom sarees available in Odisha can be of four major types; these are Ikat, Bandha, Bomkai and Pasapalli. Odisha sarees are also available in other colors like cream, maroon, brown and rust. The tie-and-dye technique used by the weavers of Odisha to create motifs on these sarees is unique to this region. This technique also gives the sarees of Odisha an identity of their own.

Sand Art

Sand sculpture is practiced on the beaches at Puri. Fine-grained sand is mixed with water and shaped by the fingers. Odishan legend says that

"Poet Balaram Das, the author of Dandi Ramayan, was a great devotee of Lord Jagannath. Once during Ratha Yatra (Car Festival), he tried to climb the chariot of Lord Jagannath to offer his prayer. Since he wasn't allowed by the priests of the chariot to climb it and also insulted by them. With a great frustration and humiliation he came to the beach (Mahodadhi) and carved the statues of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subhadra on the Golden sand.

Religion

In its long history, Odisha (Orissa) has had a continuous tradition of dharmic religions especially Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Ashoka's conquest of Kalinga (India) made Buddhism a principal religion in the state which led to establishment of numerous Stupas and buddhist learning centres. During Kharavela's reign Jainism found prominence. However, by middle of 9th century CE there was a revival of Hinduism as attested by numerous temples such as Mukteshwara, Lingaraja, Jagannath and Konark, which were erected starting from the late 7th century CE. Part of the revival in Hinduism was due to Adi Shankaracharya who proclaimed Puri to be one of the four holiest places or Char Dham for Hinduism. Odisha has therefore a syncretic mixture of the three dharmic religions as attested by the fact that the Jagannath Temple in Puri is considered to be holy by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains.

Presently, the majority of people in the state of Odisha are Hindus. As per the census of 2001, Odisha is the third largest Hindu populated state (as a percentage of population) in the country as illustrated in the 2001 census table and in this table. However, while Odisha is predominantly Hindu it is not monolithic. The state also has a Christian and Muslim minority. There is a rich cultural heritage in the state owing to Hindu faith. For example, Odisha is home to several Hindu saints. Sant Bhima Bhoi was a leader of the Mahima sect movement, Sarala Dasa, was the translator of the epic Mahabharata in Oriya, Chaitanya Dasa was a Buddhistic-Vaishnava and writer of the Nirguna Mahatmya, Jayadeva was the author of the Gita Govinda and is recognized by the Sikhs as one of their most important bhagats. Swami Laxmananda Saraswati is a modern-day Hindu saint of Adivasi heritage.

Major Holidays

Oriya celebrate most Hindu festivals and several regional holidays. Their biggest regional holiday is the Chariot Procession (Ratha Yatra) of Jagannath in Puri. It takes place in June or July, and attracts visitors from all over India. Images of Jagannath and two lesser deities are taken from the Jagannath temple to a country house about 2 miles (3 kilometers) away. The images are placed in cars or chariots and pulled by pilgrims. The word "juggernaut" comes from "Jagannath" and refers to the god's massive chariot.

Oriya Cinema - Ollywood (Odia Film Industry)

The Oriya film production in the initial years was very slow. After first Oriya film Sita Bibaha, only two films were produced till 1951. A joint consortium of landlords and businessmen who collected fund after 1948 produced those two movies. The 1951 production Roles to Eight was the first Oriya film having an English name. It was released after 15 years of the first Oriya film Sita Bibaha. It was the fourth Oriya film produced by Ratikanta Padhi.The eleventh Oriya film Sri Lokenath was the first Oriya film, which got National Award in 1960 directed by Prafulla Sengupta.

The name of Prashanta Nanda would always come while dealing with Oriya Film Industry. He was present in Oriya films since 1939, but he became super active only after 1976. Nanda served Oriya Film Industry as an actor, director, screenplay writer, and lyricist and even as a playback singer. Such a versatile genius is quite rare in Indian cinema history. Uttam Mohanty, whose debut film Abhiman won accolades, is now the ruling hero of the Oriya Film Industry. His wife Aparajita Mohanty is a very successful leading lady of Oriya films.

Clothes - Costumes of Women in Odisha

Women wear different types of saris to show their special look. Famous saris include Kataki Sari, Bomkai Sari and Sambalpuri Sari. These are adorned by females in Orissa during festivals, marriage, and other special events. Shalwar Kameez is also worn by the girls and women. They like to beautify themselves with a lot of jewelleries and ornaments. Both in urban and rural areas, you can find women in beautiful clothing.

Costumes of Men in Odisha

Similar to females, men also like to wear their traditional outfits. They attire Dhoti, kurta with a Gamucha. The main member of the family is the eldest man who follows their religious costume strictly so that others also stay in touch with their culture and wear their traditional costumes.

Though the western culture has influenced a lot in Orissa that can be seen in the clothing of youngsters, the traditional outfits still live in the heart of native inhabitants. They ensure that at least in their festivals like Durga Puja, they wear the cultural outfits.

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