Sunday, June 14, 2009

Bhubaneswar Wall Paintings - Festivals of Orissa

They say Indians celebrate 13 festivals in 12 months, which is also true for the Oriyas. There are however some festivals unique to Orissa, or festivals that are celebrated in a different form that their more popular form of celebration. There are many depictions of Oriya festivals in the wall paintings of Bhubaneswar. I have posted some of them here. You can read more on them at Wikipedia.

Dola Yatra

In Dola Yatra which is held sometime in the month of March, deities (particularly Krishna and his various avatars) are carried by devotees on a palanquin to a special altar where they are worshiped. Sometimes the deities are carried from home to home where people can take their blessings before being placed on the altar. There is also special use of colored power (abhira) in the worship. This is a form of the Holi festival popular in Northern India.

Dhanu Yatra
Dhanu Yatra is celebrated in December - January in commemoration of lord Krishna's visit to his birth place Mathura. During this festival plays are organized depicting the life of Krishna. A particular village near the town of Bargarh in Orissa transforms itself into a live theater where every resident becomes an actor and the whole village becomes the stage. The people dress and talk like those in earlier times. Episodes of Krishna's life are enacted impromptu by people in the village.

Ratha Yatra
Ratha Yatra is the time when Lord Jagannath, who is visited by millions and worshiped throughout the year in his temple, comes out of his temple to visit everybody. More than 5 million people attend it in one city - Puri every year, probably making it the second biggest festival - second only to the Kumbh Mela. This is the time when anybody and everybody, irrespective of religion, caste and creed can see and touch the lord. The deities travel up to their mother's sister (Mausi Maa) named Gundicha, to another temple called the Gundicha temple. The lord stays there for few days before returning back to the temple in what is called the Bahuda Yatra.

Ashokastami Yatra
This is Lord Lingaraja's Ratha Yatra. This is the festival when Lord Lingaraja, the deity of Lingaraj temple in Bhubaneswar, comes out of his temple and rides on his chariot till the Mausi Maa temple. At the Mausi Maa temple, the lord stays for four days before returning back to the Lingaraj Temple.

Mana Osa
Celebrated by the women of the house, this festival falls in the month of November. This is primarily worshiping of goddess Lakshmi, done to aspire for prosperity. Walls and floors are decorated with beautiful patterns made with paste of ground grains of rice. Baskets of rice are also worshiped.

Raja Festival
The Raja festival is celebrated in the month of June, around the time when south west monsoon rains arrive in Orissa. This is primarily the festival for women, when women wear pretty clothes, decorate themselves and play on the swing. The festival lasts 3 days. Instead of the women doing cooking at home, sometimes the men of the house do the cooking during the festival. This is a festival for women.

Back to the list of wall paintings in Bhubaneswar.

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