Saturday, February 4, 2023
Odisha (Orissa)

Fairs and Festivals

Garbhama Samkranti

This festival is celebrated on the first day of the solar month of Karthika. This is the time when the paddy plants or the ears of corn are forming. This is compared to pregnancy and hence the name 'Garbhma'.

These pregnant rice plants represent Lakshmi the Goddess of wealth and fertility and are worshipped with offerings in the paddy fields. They believe that through supernatural intervention a huge quantity of corn will thus harvested. All the family members eat to their heart's content.

Kumar Purnima

This festival is celebrated on the full moon day of the lunar month of Ashwina bring untold pleasure to the unmarried boys and girls. The worship of moon God is held at home as Janha Mamu (Moon, the maternal uncle.) brings them various delicacies and new clothes.


In the sacred month of Karthika many people forego their favourite non-vegetarian dishes till Karthika Purnima as part of sacred ritual. The day after the full moon is the great day of release from this religious taboo and all indulge in non-vegetarian dishes to their heart's content.


This festival is celebrated for the well being of the first born in the family, whether boy or girl. The celebration falls on the eighth  day of the dark fortnight of the lunar month of Margashira. Oblations are offered to God Ganapathi to protect the child against all hurdles in life. The child is given a new dress, feasted and blessed by the parents and other elders and friends.

Dhamu Samkranti

This festival is celebrated on the first day of Solar pousha month. The month of pousha is considered the month of plenty. After collecting the harvest there is a festival of general rejoicing with special sweets of 'Maun'.

Shamba Dashami

The festival is celebrated on the tenth day in the bright fortnight in pousha lunar month. The myth has it that Lord Krishna's son, Shamba, was cursed by a sage and he could get rid of his leprosy. The dreaded disease only by worshipping the Sun God  at Arka tirtha, which is located on the Konark beach in Odisha (Orissa). Women fast and worship Sun at dawn, midday and dusk and offer a variety of rice cakes and other delicacies. A mixed vegetable soup, known as 'Ghadghada' with leaves, tubers, local beans and pulse is a typical delicacy.

Chaiti Ghoda Nata

It is the most important  festival of the fishermen of Odisha (Orissa). Goddess basuli with a horse shaped head is worshipped from the full moon day of lunar Baishakha. According to the myth in Kaibarta Purana, the supreme god slept on the leaf of a banyan tree which was buffeted in the sea. He created a man out of the dirt of his ear to hold the rudder firmly and thus keep his leaf-bed steady. When he was dozing, the man was swallowed up by a gigantic fish. Again the leaf bed swerved and god angrily captured the fish and brought the man out. The man and his descendants became the inveterate enemies of fish. They were ordained by god to earn their livelihood by catching fish. A part of the leaf was transformed into a horse. Under god's orders Vishwakarma built a boat and the man and his horse has become the presiding deity of the descendants of the first Kaibarta or fisherman and boatman. The divine horse breathed its last on the eighth day of Baishakha and God consoled the first Kaibarta that this horse was goddess of Basuli and her worship would bring him salvation.

The representation of goddess Basuli is made of well-decorated horse-head made of wood attached to a trunk built of bamboo pieces and is coloured brown and decorated with garlands of red flowers. A man enters through a hole in the trunk and holds his head giving the appearance from a distance as he is riding a horse. Holding the reins he dances and the horse dances backward and forward to the beating of a drum. He sings songs composed by the folk poets.


The karma is a famous autumn festival which starts from the eleventh day of the bright fortnight of the month of Bhadrab and continues for some days in the month of Ashwina. The festival is celebrated in most of Odisha (Orissa)'s villages in Sambalpur and Phulabani districts.

The story behind this celebration goes: six sons of a rich merchant set sail in a ship for trade, leaving the youngest brother at home. When they returned they saw to their amazement that their wives danced  in the 'Karma' festival, while the youngest brother was playing on the drum. Being enraged, they drove away their wives. At this, 'Karma' (the god of fortune) got angry and all their wealth vanished. They repented for their folly of driving out the goddess of wealth along with their wives. With the counsel of their wives they went in search of the God of fortune  and met a milkman on the way. The latter requested them to ascertain from the God why the number of his cows was fast decreasing. After some time they saw a strange man bearing on his head a piece of broken earthen pot with fire burning in it, and another man carrying a husking peddle on the shoulder. The next man they met was shivering in the suffering of these persons from the God and the means of getting free from them. The God after due worship was kind to them and on return they found that their house was filled with gold and jewels.