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Fairs & Festivals of Orissa....full of feelings and fun.

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Orissa is a confluence of the Aryan, Dravidian and Adivasi cultures . And it is a state where three religions flourished and is thronged by pilgrims throughout the year.Being a land of ancient and sacred temples there are a large number of fairs and festivals celebrated in this state. There are festivals relating to each religion, tribes and traditions. Durga puja, Ratha yatra , makara mela and many more are comes under this categories. Besides these many seasonal exhibitions and fairs as well as special festivals such as the Konark Dance festival, Puri Beach festival, Rajarani Music Festival etc. There is no better evidence for this religio-spiritual yearning in its popular form than the string of festivals that is spread over the year.

Durga Puja or Dushhera.

Durga Puja festival is celebrated in between September to October every year. It symbolises the commemoration of good over evil. The three major Pujas of the state are the Chandimedh of Cuttack, Shahid Nagar's Durga Puja and Nayapalli's Durga Puja. But particularly thousand year old cuttack city is famous for this festival . Here life comes to a stand-still in the city as crowds pour over the Puja Mandaps to enjoy the festivities. 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.

Car festival or Ratha Yatra.

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The most famous Orissan festival is of course the Ratha Yatra or Car Festival . It is celebrated in between June and July of every year, which attracts pilgrims and visitors from all over the world. The 'Rath-Yatra' of Puri is celebrated with great pomp and show and has great significance . The three dieties, lord Jagannath, lord Balabhadra and devi Subhadra, are taken out in a chariot procession to their summer temple for a week. On the full moon day of the month of Jyestha known as snana Purnima, the idols of Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are brought out and bathed on a pendal known as the snahnamandap . Then they are believed to become indisposed and are confined to a solitary abode for a fortnight where they undergo treatment, are offered special ayurvedic medicine boli and some special liquid diet called sarapana. After a rest of fifteen days on the second day of the lunar month huge chariots are pulled by thousands of people, irrespective of religion, caste or creed to proclaim their universality and accessibility, to humanity at large. The chariots are cleaned by the Gajapati Maharaja of purl with a golden broom to proclaim that he is the first of the Lord's servants and on this particular day he performs the duty of a scavenger to demonstrate socialism in action and the dignity of labour. The deities then rest at Gundichaghar where they stall for eight days at the end of which the return car festival i.e. Bahuda Yatra takes place .

Chandan Yatra .

This festival is generally famous in Puri district of Orissa. But in other parts of Orissa this is also observed in related to Lord Jagannath . This Takes place in the month of Vaisaksha and continues for long 42 days. But generally speaking it is a Festival of first 21 days only. The festival Chndan Yatra started from Akshyaya Trutiya and lasts for twenty-one days .The first period of 21 days is known as "Bahar Chandan"or outer Chandan. During this period,the representative images of Rama,Krushna, Madanmohan,Sridevi and Bhudevi are taken in a procession to Narendra tank.The images of Siva from 5 Siva Temples known as "Pancha Pandavas" also accompany them to the Narendra tank. At Narendra tank the images play in well decorated boats and are worshipped. The second period of 21 days known as "Bhitar Chandana" is celebrated inside the Temple. This Chandan Yatra marks the conclusion of the cycle of religious festivals observed in the famous shrine of Lord Jagannth at Puri followed by other shrines of Orissa.

Dola Purnima and Holi.

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This is known as Dola purnima and also as Holi. This is the most famous spring festival of India. Usually celebrated in March it has special properties in its celebration in Orissa . The images of lord Krishna are worshipped form Dashami i.e. 10th day of the bright fortnight to the full moon day. The images are taken in decorated vimans, small wooden temples, carried on the shoulders of bearers from house to house where offerings are made to them. After the tour of the village the vimanas from different villages are assembled in an open field and the time is spent in bhajana and kirtan. Jatras and palas are also held in the area. The day after the full moon day people throw coloured water on one another and smear each other's faces with coloured powder . In local language it is called abira.The festival is specially important for cattle owing to their association with the cow . They are bathed, anointed with vermillion, garlanded and fed sumptuously. The festival is connected with the destruction of the demon Holikasura or the she-demon Holika by making a bonfire, for which the festival is called Holi. Such Melanas or Fairs continue till the month of Chaitra in different places of the district of Orissa.

Puri Beach Festival.

Conducted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Orissa, the Puri beach festival is a celebration in Orissa, with all its beauty, charm and fun-loving spirit. The Puri Beach Festival is an out fun lovers fiesta. With events ranging from fashion shows to rock shows, this Beach festival attracts visitors . Held at the beautiful beach of Puri, it offers a unique opportunity for visitors to inter-act and enjoy .

Bali Yatra.

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This is the festival celebrated to commemorate the glorious past of commercial voyages of Orissan traders. Particularly to the islands of Bali,java and Sumatra , Orissan Traders had their own identity for a grater business exchange. To mark this occasion every year a big fair called "bali Yatra" is held in the bank of river Mahanadi and infront of the Barabati fort at Cuttack . This is held on the full moon day of Kartika and lasts about 7 to 8 days. This fair is also called as second kumbha mela, because here a buyer can everything from needle to car , even residential plots. Good sign is that now a days this festival has turned in to effective educational ground for the common masses to get education about different social do's and dont's. Bali Yatra fair held on the banks of Mahanadi River in the fort area of Cuttack city as well at the seashore at Paradeep. To celebrate the glory of the ancient times, the people in Cuttack as well as in the rest of Orissa float small boats made of cork, colored paper and banana tree barks in the river and water tanks. The ritual of launching tiny paper boats lit by lamps placed within its hollow is known as Boita Bandana. Images of Karthikeswar are worshipped and immersed in the waters of river Mahanadi, near the Shiva Temple, to mark the end of the month of Karthik.

Mukteswar temple(10th century).

It is considered as the gem of Orissan architecture in sand stone. Belonging to the 10th century AD; its special features a crucial turning point in the tempo of the Orissan temple architecture . The magnificent arched gateway, the Torana, in the front of the Mukteswar is a unique piece of stonework. The graceful feminine figures in languorous poses are as captivating as the figures of monkeys and royal peacocks on it. For more than 10th centuries this temple has gracefully remained as a standing invitation to hold back the visitors .

Dhanu Yatra .

This is also another festival related to the leela's of lord Krishna. Dhanu Yatra relating to the episode of Lord Krishna's visit to Mathura witness the ceremony of 'Bow'. This is colourfully observed at western Orissa , particularly at Bargarh. The town of Baragarh becomes Mathura ,the river Jira becomes Yamuna , and village Amapalli on other bank of river becomes Gopa. A mango grove there serves as "Vrindaban" and a pond, as lake "Kalindi". A gorgeously decorated stage is erected in the heart of Bargarh to serve as the Durbar of Kansa. An elephant is engaged for the royal transport. The origins of the Dhanu yatra at Bargarh are unclear, but it has been organized since 1948 annually. Different acts of Puranic descriptions are performed in this festival. Observed for 11 days preceding Pausha Poornima - the full moon day of Pausha in December-January, this is the spectacular Dhanuyatra of Bargarh in the western part of Orissa, about 350 km from Bhubaneswar. Dhanuyatra is the theatrical presentation of Krishna Leela of Devaki with Vashudev till the death of Kansa as described in the scriptures. The entire episode is reenacted. Generally observed in typically rituals this festival has its own identity world wide.

Konark Dance Festival.

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It is nodoubt that the Sun temple at Konark is the crowning glory of the temple architecture of Orissa. As a tribute to this majestic monument; eminent classical dancers of India get together during the Konark Festival every year from 1st week of December to present live performances of their art. At the sun set , the open-air auditorium against the backdrop of the floodlit temple reverberates with the beats of Raga and Tala to fill the air. The classical extravaganza is a journey through ecstasy. Resistlessly it can be said that this is really really an open air auditorium calssical extravaganza.

Snana Purnima.

Popularly known as the Deba Snana Purnima, this Festival takes places in the month of Jestha. This is the first occasion in the course of a year when the deities Jagannath,Balabhadra and Subhadra along with Sudarsan and Madanmohan are brought out from the Temple and taken in procession to Snana Bedi located in the North East corner of the temple. The deities are bathed there . Here,Jagannath and Balabhadra are dressed like Lord Ganesh with the head of an elephant.

Makara mela .

Makar mela is celebrated in makar Sankranti with gusto in mid-January when the Sun enters the orbit of capricon. The sun god is worshipped with great fervour and enthusiasm by one and all. The festival can be best enjoyed at Kalijai i.e.an island in Chilika lake ( see chilika page) Atri, Ghatgaon, Keonjhar, Jashipur and Jagatsinghpur.

TaraTarini Mela.

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The ‘Taratarini Mela’ is one of Orissa’s biggest fairs, takes place on each Tuesday at Taratarini Pitha which is about 30 km from Berhampur town . Of the month of ‘Chaitra’ i.e. from around mid-March to mid-April a grand congregation takes place on the 3rd Tuesday here which a a typical feelings for all the devotees thronged here all over the stae.

Lakshmi Puja .

Goddess Lakshmi is worshipped in this occasion with joy and celebration. Particularly in Orissa's Dhenkanal town and some part of kendrapara town this festival is very very famous . Observed with much pomp and ceremony in both the places, it commences from the fullmoon day of aswin and continues for a period of one week.

Nrusingha Chaturdashi or Baysakha Mela.

This festival is celebration on the birthday of lord Nrusingha in NrusinghNath, on the holy day of Baysakh Chaturdashi. This abatar is in the form of a cat to protect the life beings from the Mushika Datya. A rat Vampire, who is hidden inside the Gandhmardan Mountain and Lord Nrusingha is sitting in the entry point of that rat hole is in the idol form which attracts lakhs of devotees.

Saraswati Puja and Ganesh puja .

Saraswati, who is the patron goddess of learning and arts in Hinduism is worshipped all over India especially in Orissa. LOrd ganesh , who is also a patron of all good starts, widely worshipped almost all part of Orissa particaularly on ganesh chaturdashi.

Ashokastami.

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Ashokasthmi is celebrated in the month of March and April every year. It is a mini Rathyatra of Lord Shiva at the Lingaraj temple.

Raja sankaranti.

Raja Sankrati is celebrated in some part of orissa particularly in the month of June . It is celebrated mainly by women. Mainly women welcoming the first showers celebrate it. Mostly it is a 3-day festival and some part of Orissa it is also celebrated for five days.

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