Baripada Odisha

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The district headquarter of Mayurbhanj, Baripada is the main commercial town of the northeastern Odisha. The terrain is thickly forested with hills, streams and the neatly thatched villages inhabited by large tribal population, especially Santal Tribe. There are a few time worn civic buildings erected by the local Maharajas during the days of Briitish. The area for centuries has been ruled by Bhanja Kings and their old palace is now a college on the main road. There are historic sites at Khiching and Haripur where these rulers have left their marks and some prehistoric sites at Kuchai and Kuliana in the district. The colourful tribal festivals and their handicrafts like cast metal toys and sect images and the tassar silk of this district attract the visitors. Baripada is also the gateway to Similipal National Park, about 50 km drive away. Bhubaneswar Baripada is about 295 km.

The town's main attraction is the annual Ratha Yatra in June/July associated with its Jagannath Temple, a small scale version of one that is at Puri. Its unique feature is that the Chariot of Subhadra-Lord's sister is pulled only by women. Another colourful and vibrant annual show is the Chaitra Parba in April and it is a treat to watch tribal attired in fabulous dresses performing the vigorous Chhow dance. This dance was performed by the warriors in the past before they ventured into the battle grouns. Baripada has a small museum, exhibiting some fine sculptures, pottery, coins and other paraphernalia belonging to former Maharajas.

Haripur: 16 km southeast of Baripada, Haripur was founded in 1400 as the capital by Maharaja Harihar of the Bhanja dynasty. It has the evocative ruins of some palaces and temples. The magnificent Rasikaraya Temple, and outstandisng example of a brick-built monument is particularly noteworthy. Equally impresssive are the ruins of the inner apartment of the queen, the Ranihamsapur and of Durbar Hall sith its beautiful carved stone columns and arches.

Kumbhirgadi: Situated on the banks of Subarnarekha, the lingam of Baba Bhusandeswar is being worshipped for years in a remote village of Kumbhirgadi. Carved out of black granite, the lingam is about 3.8 m in height and 3.5 m in diameter, Asia's largest, now housed in a temple constructed in 1984

Legend has it that to grant the wish of the demon King Ravana, Lord Shiva gave an atmalinga to him but warned that no one can remove the lingam from where it is placed once. When Ravana was carrying the lingam to Lanka from Kailash Mountain, he felt thirsty and asked a young shepherd to hold it till he returned. Unable to hold it, the boy put it down. On returning, in spite of all his strength, Ravana could not uproot the lingam and with every effort, its size kept on increasing. He returned to Lanka and since then it is enshrined here and being worshipped as Bhusandeswar.

Performing Arts Odisha

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Odisha has a rich tradition of folk plays-dance, drama and music in which the spiritual, philosophical and the humane dimensions have merged to reflect a life style.

Leelas: A religious folk play, it is a popular form of devotional entertainment. The Ram Leela portrays the various incidents from the epic Ramayana. The dramatic rendering of dialogues by the performing artistes in dazzling costumes and heavy make--up backed by a group of chorus singers and orchestral music starts from the Ram Navami day and continues for 9 nights. The Ras Leela is a lyrical-musical enactment of the immortal love of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha. It revolves around different moods of love, such as anger, playfulness, expectation etc. between the two.
Other popular form is Bharat Leela or Dwari Leela which draws its plot from the story of love and subsequent marriage of Arjuna- one of the five Pandavas with Subhadra. A typical play of Ganjam district, the Prahlad Natak, a play composed by Gopinath parichha is presented as a compendium of songs in praise of Lord Nrusingha and suppression of pride of demon king Hiranya Kashuap by a young devout Prahlad.

Yatra: It corresponds to folk theatre where mythological, historical and social subjects are enacted. In fact, Jatra blossomed at the end of the 19th century as a development over Suanga. Performed in an open air theatre, Jatra succeeds to enliven the mass with a show of music, dance, acting, singing and the dramatic expression of emotions like love, anxiety, anger, valour and pathos. Recently social themes and popular legends have also been included, with rustic characters in dazzling costumes rendering dialogues in local dialects. The theatrical mannerism and the high sounding dialogues of performers and the accompanying thundering music usually a harmonium, clarinet, cymbals, tabla, dholki, bugle and mrudanga, all liven up the atmospere.

Pala: The Pala is a musical narrative by a gayaka and others called palias, all dressed up in royal attire. The gayaka makes his appearance holding a chamara which he wields with extreme flourish and a pair of cymbals in his right hand. He narrates episodes from puranic texts, punctuated with explanations. The singer is adept at combining drama, song and dance and though not highly educated but through with knowledge of the theme and fluent in elucidation. The tale is occasionally iterspersed with loud sounds of cymbals and vigorous beating of mridanga. The performers dance in very small and simple rhythmic steps dance along with the singer. The performance begins by invoking the blessing of a deity, Satyanarayan in the form of Satyapeer and the whole atmosphere gets filled with an air of sanctity.

Daskathia: A folk art performed by two men, owes its name to the musical instrument by the same name.Daskathia is made of two wooden pieces, which when beaten with hands produce rhythmic sound. The singer like the Pala singer generally uses themes of religious intent from mythology, whereas his partner intermittently gives a rhythmic refrain of the words. The rhythmic narration is of ten interspersed with special sequences dramatized in dialogue form. Wit, humour and songs take the centre stage in this performance of a shorter duration than the Pala.

Fairs & Festivals Odisha

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Odisha observes a large number of festivals mostly associated with harvesting seasons, religion and temples. Odisha is a confluence of the Aryan, Dravidian and aboriginal cultures, thus celebrations bring forth a grand collage of different rituals and traditions. There is no better evidence for this relition-spiritual yearning in its popular form than a fair or festival virtually every month in different parts of Odisha. The car festivals, yatras, melas, pujas and bratas or oshas involve mass participation, spread throughout the year. Innumerable folk traditions and spirits are manifested by way of observing vratas or oshas by Hindus in Odisha. The observance is believed to resist the materialistic aspects of human life, augment belief in religion, human life, augment belief in religion, bring welfare, prosperity and long life to the near and dear ones, recovery from ailments, beget a good match, and may be a bumper harvest. most of these observations are marked by a spirit of sanctity, worship and painting of walls and floors with rice paste.

Makara Mela: Also popularly known as Makar Sankranti, the Sun God is worshipped with great fervour and enthusiasm all over. It coincides with the end of harvest season and when the sun enters the orbit of Capricorn. The Chilika Lake is the focus of attention where pilgrims congregate to leave food offerings Goddess Kalijai.

Magha saptami:  This occasion falls on the 7th day of the Magha when thousand of the Magha when thousands of pilgrims swamp to take a holy dip in the Chandrabhaga near Konark. Prayers are held to the rising sun. Khandagiri, near Bhubaneswar is also the venue of a week long grand fair.

Dola: Essentially a festival of colours, also known as Holi, it is a 5 day long celebrations especially in the rural areas of Odisha. It starts on Phalguna Poornima day, marding the beginning of the spring season. The idols of Krishna and Radha in decorated vimana are carried on shoulders from house to house to the chants of devotional hymns. The festivities culminate a day after poornima when people throw colour water and abir and gulal on each other. Cattles are bathed, anointed with vermilion, garlanded and fed sumptuously on this occasion.
Fairs & Festivals OdishaAshokastami: Celebrated on the 8th day of the month of Chaitra, it is the car festival of Lord Lingaraj at Bhubaneswar. The deity is taken out in a chariot from the main temple to Rameswar Temple at the Bindu Sagar and returns after a 4 days stay.

Durga Puja: The annual 9 day festival keeps the tradition of worshipping Goddess Durga alive with vigour and devotion. Huge pandals are set-up housing the idol of Goddess Durga. The day after Dussehra or Dashmi marks the end of the puja festivities. The deities being carried in splendid processions with attractive backdrops, the huge flags of different hues and the frenzied  processionists dancing to the beat of drums and music are a treat to watch. After bidding adieu to Durga on Dshmi the city gets ready to welcome Lakshmi and colourful pandals are constructed to attract both devotees and revellers.
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