Odisha (formerly Orissa) is one of the 29 states of India, located in the eastern coast. It is surrounded by the states of West Bengal to the north-east, Jharkhand to the north, Chhattisgarh to the west and north-west, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana to the south and south-west. Odia (formerly known as Oriya) is the official and most widely spoken language, spoken by 33.2 million according to the 2001 Census.The modern state of Odisha was established on 1 April 1936, as a province in British India, and consisted predominantly of Odia-speaking regions.April 1 is celebrated as Odisha Day.
Odisha has a chequered history of successive rules of different dynasties and assimilation and synthesization of the best of Buddhist, Jain, and Hindu cultures and also Mahima Cult. Odisha in the past has been known as Odra, Utkala, Kalinga, Tosala, or Tosali and Kosala. The name “odisha” derived its name from tribal community inhabited the place in ancient times called “odra” who worshipped the sun god.
The mention of Odisha (Orissa) dates back to 260 BC, the reign of Emperor Ashoka. While spreading the boundaries of his kingdom, the emperor reached the gates of the then Kalinga and invoked its king to fight or flee. In the absence of her father, the princess of the state took reins and fought bravely with the emperor. The war was a true massacre and the bloodshed that took place moved the emperor so much that his killing instinct was capsized. A warrior was thence transformed into a great apostle of Buddhism. Buddhism followed by Jainism held sway until after the reassertion of Hinduism in the state in 7th century AD.The Orissan culture and architecture flourished immensely under the rein of Keshari and Ganga Kings at Odisha (Orissa). A number of masterpieces of that golden era still stand today as mute evidence to a glorious past.
Odisha has a unique culture and Odias call it Jagannath Sanskruti as most of them revolve around Lord Jagannath.The old customs and traditions bind the Odias together in a cultural cocoon where each and every festival is celebrated with equal enthusiasm and gaiety. It is like a bridge between the northern and southern halves of the country. Odia (formerly known as Oriya) is the most spoken language of Odisha.
Jagannatha Temple in Puri, known for its annual or Car Festival is a unique cultural attraction while the Sun Temple at Konark is also famous for its architectural splendor.
Odisha’s wedding ceremony is a simple affair free from any complexities and lavishness and is considered as a blissful affair with simple rituals followed.The marriage has three major rituals Nirbandha (fixing the marriage), Bahaghara (the main wedding ritual), and Chaturthi (consummation). A wedding in Odisha is not considered complete until Chaturthi. One of the unique things about the Oriya wedding is that the mother of the bridegroom does not attend the wedding ceremony.
The official language of Orissa is Odia (Oriya), which is spoken by the majority of the population and is one of the oldest languages of India. Other languages spoken are Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Telugu.
Women in Odisha wear the Oriya Saree, which is often draped with a 5-yard cotton ikat cloth. Traditionally, the women of Odisha dress in sarees of blue, red, and magenta and other deep colors, with ikat patterning.
Odisha is recognized for its handlooms, especially the Odisha sarees. In Odisha, there are many different motifs and designs woven in cotton and silk to create the distinctive sarees of Odisha like Bomkai, Sambalpuri which are also famous in the international markets.
Orissa is a land of temples. The concentration of the largest number of temples all over the state has made it a centre of unique attraction for the scholars and tourists.The Orissan Temple Architecture holds an appeal that is magnetic and almost stupefying in its extravagance and mobility. Exquisitely carved base-reliefs with their numerous halls and the heavily sculptured towers are landmarks of this magnificent architecture. The splendid ruins of Konark, the highly sanctified environs of Jagannath and Lingaraj temples are the symbols of Orissa’s cultural heritage that remain an eye-opener even today.
The artistic skill of the Oriya artists is quite unsurpassable in the world. The murals, cloth and palm leaf paintings of Orissa are as old as its magnificent architecture and sculpture. The Chitrakars or artists were patronised by feudal landlords and kings, leaving them free to scale new heights in creativity in all fields of visual arts.The three main categories of Oriya painting, the Bhitichitra or the murals, the Patachitra or the cloth painting and the Pothichitra or the palm leaf engraving have remained more or less the same in style, down the ages.
The musical accompaniment of Odissi dance is essentially the same as the music of Odissa itself. There are a number of musical instruments used to accompany the Odissi dance. One of the most important is the pakhawaj, also known as the madal. This is the same pakhawaj that is used elsewhere in the north except for a few small changes. One difference is that the right head is a bit smaller than the usual north Indian pakhawaj. This necessitates a technique which in many ways is more like that of the tabla, or mridangam. Other instruments which are commonly used are the bansuri (bamboo flute), the manjira (metal cymbals), the sitar and the tanpura.A land of rich and diverse artistic achievements, Odisha’s art and culture are the products of a long historical process in which the spiritual, philosophical and the humane dimensions have merged to yield the finest effects of cultured civilised life.
Rock art in Odisha dates back to the prehistoric period according to the earliest reports found at Viramkhol in Jharsuguda district. With the reign of Ashoka the great, Buddhist sculptural art gradually changed the degree of Odisha’s artistic flair. Even today, the caves of Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udaygiri have not faltered to showcase the wonderful legacy of sculptural brilliance that some of our finest carvers left behind.
With clean, fine-grained sand and water as its raw materials, this is an indigenous form of art that found its origin recently if a comparison is drawn to the other forms of art. It is practised on the beaches of Puri with subjects ranging from Hindu deities to international occasions. With the help of tourism, this art-form has developed exponentially and found worldwide recognition.
Locally known as ‘Tarakasi’, this art form is about 500 years old. It hails from Cuttack, a.k.a the Silver City of Odisha (now you know why). The process consists of drawing silver through a series of consecutively smaller holes to produce fine strands of wire. Usually, Tarakasi jewellery is used to embellish Durga idols during Durga Puja in Cuttack and by Odissi dancers.
Odisha has a rich heritage of music, which is a delight for all music lovers. Among all Odissi music is a piece of classical music which is very popular internationally. It has all elements such as Tala and Raga. Jayadeva was the first poet to compose musical lyrics.
Odia filmography’s first production was a talkie. The first Odia talkie Sita Bibaha was made by Mohan Sundar Deb Goswami in 1936. The pace of Odia film production in the initial years was very slow. After Sita Bibaha, only two films were produced until 1951.
Odia Film Industry, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, were highly indebted to Bengali films. Several Bengali directors help their Odia counterparts to help make films. Eminent director Mrinal Sen even directed an Odia film ‘Matira Manisha’ which won National Award for best actor Prashanta Nanda.
Odisha 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 an extension of the cuisine of Odisha and West Bengal. It had been enjoyed in Odisha for centuries and neighbouring Bengal, like the well-known rice pudding, kheeri (kheer), that is relished all over India.In fact, some well-known recipes, usually credited to Bengal, are of Odishan origin. This is because during the Bengal renaissance, Brahmin cooks from Odisha, especially from Puri, were routinely employed in richer Bengali households. They were famed for their culinary skills and commonly referred to as Ude Thakurs (Odia Brahmin-cooks). As a result, many Odia delicacies got incorporated into the Bengali kitchen.Chena Poda is another famous sweet delicacy in Odisha with the origin from Nayagarh District, Odisha.Pakhala, a dish made of rice, water, and yoghurt, that is fermented overnight, is very popular in summer, particularly in the rural areas. Odias are very fond of sweets and no Odia repast is considered complete without some dessert at the end. A typical meal in Odisha 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. Odia 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.
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 Odia.
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: Balarama Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Achyutananada Dasa, Ananta Dasa and Jasobanta Das. The Panchasakhas are very much Vaishnavas by thought. In 1509, Chaitanya, an Odia 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.
There are many more things about our odisha.I am proud to be an odia.