Orissa has a rich culture with many unique festivals. With the advent of communication and mixing of population, Oriyas have gradually started celebrating festivals originated from other regions, but the unique oriya festivals are not entirely forgotten. In this post we'll go through a few such unique aspects of Oriya culture depicted in the wall paintings of Bhubaneswar.
In ancient times Orissa (then known as Kalinga) was a major sea faring nation. Kalinga had regular contacts with South and South East Asia where in merchants from Kalinga (then called Sadhavas) used to trade spices and other local products with those countries. The sailors used to set sail in the Asadha month (of Oriya calenar, rainy season) and come back by the Baisakha month (summer season). Women from the families of the traveling sailors used to perform rituals for the safe journey of the boats, which was called as Boita Bandana (Worship of the Boats).
In recent times, in rememberance of those days, a festival called Danga Bhasha (floating the boats) is celebrated. People make toy boats from the dry bark of banana plant with wood and paper and float them in rivers and ponds with a lighted lamp inside it. It is remiscent of watching the merchant boats sail away from the ports. In coastal Orissa, particularly Cuttack, a festival called Bali Yatra is also celebrated along the river banks. Tales of 'Taapoi' are also recited.
Bhagabata Purana (or Srimad Bhagabata) is one of the eighteen puranas (old tales) of Hindu culture, dealing mostly with tales about lord Krishna. Reciting puranas is a fine art, and the people who took this on as a profession came to be known as Bhagabats. In villages there is usually one family that take Bhagabat recital as their profession. They are often non brahmins and hold their recital in a designated place in the village called the Bhagabata Tungi. The Bhagabata Tungi is also an invaluable source of informal education and philosophical discussions in the village.
Nagara Kirtana is a ritual where a group of people singing religious songs along with traditional musical instruments go through the village streets in a procession. This is also an illustration of 'Bhakti Yoga' where devotees forget everything else singing songs about God.
Back to the list of wall paintings in Bhubaneswar.