Oriya culture

Oriya culture

Culture of Orissa state in India



Odissi or Orissi dance and music is classified as a classical music of India. Odissi has a long, unbroken tradition of 2,000 years, and finds mention in the Natyashastra of Bharatamuni, possibly written circa 200 BC. 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 Mayadhar Raut, Guru Pankaj Charan Das, Guru Mahadev Rout, Guru Raghu Dutta, and Guru Kelu Charan Mahapatra. 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 twelfth century AD. Chhau dance (or Chau dance) is form of tribal martial dance attributed to origins in Mayurbhanj princly state of Orissa.and seen in the Indian states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Orissa. 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 Orissa. Mahari Dance is one of the important dance forms of Orissa. Mahari dance of Orissa, originated in the temples of Orissa. History of Orissa provides evidence of the 'Devadasi' cult in Orissa. Devadasis were dancing girls who were dedicated to the temples of Orissa. The Devadasis in Orissa 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 Orissa 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 Sastras.
  • They must always wear clean cloths.
  • 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 Orissa, 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 Orissa has also great verity of dance forms unique to Orissa culture.The children's verses are known as "Chhiollai", "Humobauli" and "Dauligit", the adolescent poems are "Sajani", "Chhata", "Daika", "Bhekani" : the eternal youth composes "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–Sabaren, Disdigo, Nachina–Bajnia, Samparda and Sanchar. They are for all occasions, for all time with varieties of rhythm and rhyme. Pala is a unique form of balladry in Orissa, 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 is presented in three ways. The names can be mentioned as baithaki or `seated`, in which the performers sit on the ground throughout. The other one is thia or `standing`. This is more popular and aesthetically more satisfying, in which they stand. Badi is a kind of thia 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 Orissa.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 A.D. to 1540 A.D.) and gained popularity in the subsequent Muslim Rule. Ray Remananda the famous Vaishnavite Minister of King Pratapruda and ardent follower of Sri Chitanya is the originator of this boy dancing tradition, As Vasishnavs 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 Orissa. 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 Orissan handicrafts’ craftsmen reside in this village contributing their expertise in Pattachitra Painting and other handicrafts.


The history of Oriya Literature has been mapped by historians along the following stages, Old Oriya (900-1300 AD), Early Middle Oriya (1300-1500 AD), Middle Oriya (1500-1700 AD), Late Middle Oriya (1700 AD-1850 AD) and Modern Oriya (from 1850 AD till the present). But this rude categorization could not skillfully draw the real picture on account of development and growth of Oriya 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.[1] 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 Orissa 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 152000 verses compared to 100000 in the Sanskrit version. Among many of his poems and epics, he is best remembered for his Mahabharata. Chandi Purana and the Vilanka Ramayana are also two of his famous creations.Arjuna Das , a contemporary to Sarala Dasa , 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 to 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 Orissa 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 Geetagovinda. 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 Oriya Literature.Upendra Bhanja was conferred with the title Kabi Samrat of Oriya 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 made a great revolutions in Oriya 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 Oriya 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 wee 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 Oriya 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 Lord. 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 though was emerged with the influence of Gandhiji and idealistic trend of Nationalism formed as a new trend in Oriya Literature.Much respected personality of Orissan culture and history, Utkalmani Gopabandhu Dash (1877–1928) has founded a school at a village Satyabadi near Sakshigopal of Orissa and an idealstic literary movement influenced the writers of this age . Godabarisha Mohapatra, Kuntala-Kumari Sabat the other renowned name of this age.

With the emergence of soviet Russia in 1935, Communist party was formed in Orissa 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.Bhagwati 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 m Marxian movements was in full flow in Oriya Literature, Kalindi Charan panigrahi, the brother of Bhagabati Charan Panigrahi,the founder of Marxian Trend in Orissa , formed a group circa 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 successfully. As the successor of Sachi babu, two poets Guruprasad Mohanty(popularly known as Guru Prasad ) (1924–2004) 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 kihore 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 has started actually developed more after 50’s of last century. Gopinath Mohanty (1914–1991),Surendra Mohanty and Manoj Das (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 Orissa. 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 PanigrahRatnakar Chaini, Ranjit Patnaik continued the tradition. As a whole, we can say, now days Oriya literature is a strong wing of Indian Literature to represent in world forum.


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 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 Orissa 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 Orissa, 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 orissa.

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 Orissa is much in demand throughout the entire world. The different colors and varieties of sarees in Orissa make them very popular among the women of the state. The handloom sarees available in Orissa can be of four major types; these are Ikat, Bandha, Bomkai and Pasapalli. Orissa sarees are also available in other colors like cream, maroon, brown and rust. The tie-and-dye technique used by the weavers of Orissa to create motifs on these sarees is unique to this region. This technique also gives the sarees of Orissa an identity of their own.

Sand Art

In Orissa, a unique type of art form is developed at Puri. But it spreads all over the world. To carve a sand sculpture, the raw material is the only clean and fine-grained sand mixed with water. With the help of this type of sand and with the blessings of God and by the magic of fingures, an artist can carve a beautiful and attractive sculpture on the beach Although not historically proved, there is an interesting story in the Orissan myths regarding the origin of sand sculpture like follows :- " 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.


Gita Govinda manuscript

In its long history, 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 (dhams) for hinduism. Orissa 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 Orissa are Hindus. As per the census of 2001, Orissa is the third largest Hindu populated state (as a percentage of population) in the countrythis table<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism_in_India>. There is a rich cultural heritage in the state owing to Hindu faith. For example, Orissa 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.

However, while Orissa is predominantly Hindu it is not monolithic. The state also has a Christian and Muslim minority. During the past ten years, there has been widely reported religious violence in Orissa especially between hardline Hindu groups and Christian missionaries.

Oriya Cinema

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.[2]

The name of Prasantha 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 accolade, is now the ruling hero of the Oriya Film Industry. His wife Aparajita Mohanty is a very successful leading lady of Oriya films.

Oriya cuisine

Salepur Rasagola.Rasagola, famous throughout India originated from Orissa

Orissa has culinary tradition spanning centuries if not millennia. The kitchen of the famous Jagannath temple in Puri is reputed to be the largest in the world, with a thousand chefs, working around 752 wood-burning clay hearths called chulas, to feed over 10,000 people each day.

Rasagolla, one of the most popular desserts in India, is in fact an Oriya invention. It had been enjoyed in Orissa for centuries before being passed on to neighboring Bengal. The well-known rice pudding, kheeri (kheer) that is relished all over India, also originated in Puri .two thousand years ago.

In fact, some well-known recipes, usually credited to Bengal, are of Orissan origin. This is because during the Bengal renaissance, Brahmin cooks from Orissa, especially from Puri, were routinely employed in richer Bengali households. They were famed for their culinary skills and commonly referred to as Ude Thakurs (Oriya Brahmin-cooks). As a result, many Oriya delicacies got incorporated into the Bengali kitchen. Pakhala, a dish made of rice, water, and yoghurt, that is fermented overnight, is very popular in summer, particularly in the rural areas. Oriyas are very fond of sweets and no Oriya repast is considered complete without some dessert at the end. A typical meal in Orissa consists of a main course and dessert. Typically breads are served as the main course for breakfast, whereas rice is eaten with lentils (dals) during lunch and dinner. The main course also includes one or more curries, vegetables and pickles. Given the fondness for sweet foods, the dessert course may include generous portions of more than a single item. Oriya desserts are made from a variety of ingredients, with milk, chhenna (a form of ricotta cheese), coconut, rice, and wheat flour being the most common.


[[File:Fakir Mohan.gif|thumb|right|115px|Fakir Mohan Senapati]

The history of Oriya Literature is long.


The official language of the state, spoken by the majority of the people is Oriya. Oriya belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family, and is closely related to Bengali and Assamese. A few tribal languages belonging to the Dravidian and Munda language families are still spoken by the Adivasis of the state. The state has a very opulent cultural heritage, one of the richest in India. The capital city of Bhubaneswar is known for the exquisite temples that dot its landscape. The famous classical dance form, Odissi originated in Orissa. Contemporary Orissa has a proud cultural heritage that arose due to the intermingling of three great religious traditions - Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. Orissa is also known as Odisha.


Oriya people prefer to ware Dhoti , Kurtha & Gamucha .Women's are seen wearing Sambalpuri Saree , Bomkai Saree and Kataki Saree.

Santh Jaydeva was the writer of the Gita Govinda and is renowned by the Sikhs as one of their most important bhagats.

Swami Laxmananda Saraswati is a modern-day Hindu saint of Adivasi heritage. Another well-known modern-day saints is Bhakti Vaibhava Puri Maharaj.

See also


  1. ^ Mukherjee, Prabhat. The History of medieval Vaishnavism in Orissa. Chapter : The Sidhacharyas in OrissaPage:55.
  2. ^ http://orissacinema.com/history.html[dead link]

External links

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