There is no denying to the fact that Orissa beholds a rich cultural, historic and religious legacy. The land that was under the reign of different Kings is truly a land of diversity that can be best witnessed in its fairs and festivals. While some of the fairs and festivals of Orissa boasts about the rich historical and religious background of the state, the other showcases the traditions and rituals of the land. Some of the famous Orissa Festivals are accounted below:
The Rath Yatra or Car Festival is celebrated each year during the months of June–July. This festival marks the journey of Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra, and Devi Subhadra to their aunt’s house for a nine day stay.
The word Chandan means Sandalwood and Yatra means Voyage. This festival is a 42 days long celebration that is classed as into two parts namely Bahara Chandana and Bhitara Chandana. Also known as Gandhalepana Yatra, this festival is associated with the Jagannath temple and thus is a major event of the state.
Durga Puja marks the victory of good over evil. It is celebrated with great pomp and cheer in Cuttack, Berhampur,Bhubaneswar, Raurkela,Sambalpur, Baleswar and Jeypore. This festival attracts numerous Odia and Bengalis living in Orissa.
Kalinga Mahotsav is a two long martial dance festival of Odisha, organized at the Vishwa Shanti Stupa or Peace Pagoda. Celebrated in memory of the blood-curdling Kalinga war, the festival aims at promoting peace and urges people o follow the path of peace.
Held at the back-drop of the Konark Sun Temple, the Konark Dance Festival is a major highlight in the state of Orissa. The festival aims at promoting the varied dances of the entire nation and invites performers from different parts of the country.
The Puri Beach Festival is hosted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Odisha in-association with the Indian Ministry of Tourism, the Development Commissioner of Handicrafts and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center of Calcutta. The beach Festival holds different sand art competitions, dance performances and musical performance by renowned artists and this attract numerous travelers.
The Rajarani Music Festival aims at promoting the glorious Indian Classical music. The festival is held at the backstage of the famous Rajarani Temple in Bhubaneswar.
The Snana Purnima is an auspicious festival which is celebrated on the full moon day (Purnima) of the month of Jyestha (June-July). On this day the deities of the Jagannath Temple are bathed by 108 pitchers of water at Snana Mandapa, then dressed up and offered daily food in front of devotees. The water is brought from the well near Sitala Temple that is situated in the premises of the Jagannath temple. This day is believed to be the birthday of Lord Jagannath.
Raja Festival or Mithuna Sankranti marks beginning of the Rainy season. It welcomes the agricultural year all over the state. The festival is a three day long celebration that comprises different joyous and playful activities that are enjoyed by the girls. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm in the districts of Cuttack, Puri and Balasore. The three days are known as "Pahili Raja" (Prior Raja), "Raja" and "Basi Raja" respectively.
The word Bahuda means return, thus this festival celebrates the return Journey of the deities of Jagannath Temple from the Gundicha Ghar temple. This festival is the last day of the Rath Yatra and thus is also a grand event in Odisha.
Bali Yatra means Journey to Bali. This festival is celebrated in the city of Cuttack at Gadagadia Ghata of the Mahanadi River. This festival embarks the day when Oriya mariners used to sail for trade and cultural expansion to Indonesia (Bali, Java, Sumatra & Borneo) and Sri Lanka in Boitas (large vessels).
Mahashivratri is a vital festival of Odisha that celebrates the marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. ON this day numerous Devotees visit the Lingaraj Temple in Bhubaneswar and offer fruits and milk to Shiva. Married women pray for the well being of their husbands and sons on this auspicious day.
Dhanu Yatra is a famous festival which is celebrated with sheer joy in Western Odisha. It embarks the day when Lord Krishna and Balaram visited Mathura to take part in the 'Bow' ceremony organized by Kansa. This festival showcases the entire episode at an open air theatre.
Nuakhai or Nuankhai is an agricultural festival mainly celebrated by the tribal people. The people welcome the new harvested crop of rice on this festival. As a result, the festival holds immense significance for the farmers of Odisha.