India, the land of diverse cultures, is known for its year-round celebrations of various festivals. Each culture is defined by the unique festivities they observe, and India truly stands as a land of vibrant celebrations.
Festivals in India bring people from all communities together, showcasing the rich customs and cultural traditions that make each place special. If you’re planning to visit any city in India, timing your travel during its festive season is very important, as it allows you to witness the grandeur of cultural celebrations while savoring authentic local delicacies.
The state of Odisha, being home to many indigenous tribes, boasts of numerous festivals celebrated throughout the year. Every tribe has its own distinct festivals, contributing to the rich tapestry of festivities across the region. One can experience the warmth and joy of these celebrations, which are characterised by great pomp and show.
Festivals of Cuttack
Cuttack, often referred to as the city of brotherhood, epitomises secularism with its diverse range of celebrated festivals. Let’s explore some of the most famous festivals of Cuttack.
Ganesh Puja: Ganesh Puja marks the beginning of the festive season in India, and Cuttack emerges as a prime location to witness this grand celebration. More than 2,000 clubs and puja committees enthusiastically participate in the festivities. The city comes alive with creatively decorated makeshift tents showcasing Lord Ganesh statues in various sizes and attires, representing different places from around the world.
Durga Puja or Dussehra: Among the most renowned festivals in Cuttack, Durga Puja is celebrated with fervor. Around 150 puja committees start their preparations two months in advance to ensure a spectacular event. The mesmerising adornment of Maa Durga with golden and silver ornaments steals the show and reflects the city’s grand sense of celebration.
Kali Puja: Following Durga Puja, the people of Cuttack eagerly prepare for the festival of Goddess Kali Puja, which coincides with Diwali celebrations. The festival is celebrated with great enthusiasm, with over 65 mandaps erected across the silver city of Odisha to worship the Goddess Kali, often depicted with a skull garland and a protruding tongue.
Baliyatra: Also known as Karthik Purnima, Baliyatra holds great historical significance and commemorates Odisha’s maritime heritage. The fair commences on the full moon day of Kartika masam and extends for seven days. Set over 37 acres of land near the Mahanadi river bed and Kila Maidan, close to the Barabati Fort, this fair attracts millions of visitors who come to relish the festivities.
Festivals of Bhubaneswar
Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, also hosts a plethora of diverse festivals that reflect the region’s rich cultural heritage. Let’s explore some of the prominent festivals celebrated in Bhubaneswar:
Makar Sankranti: Although Makar Sankranti is observed in certain states of India, it finds enthusiastic celebration in Bhubaneswar, Odisha. The festival pays homage to the Sun god for a bountiful harvest. During this time, the city also hosts the Makar mela, a fair that adds to the festive spirit.
Rajarani Festival: Celebrated in January, the Rajarani Festival is a significant music festival in Bhubaneswar. It serves as a platform to showcase and promote Indian classical and traditional music. Renowned vocalists, instrumentalists, dancers, and other artistes from across India grace the festival with their performances.
Mahashivratri: One of the prominent festivals celebrated in Bhubaneswar, Mahashivratri is observed in either February or March. Devotees, especially women, partake in fasting and offer prayers to Lord Shiva for his divine blessings.
Mukteshwar Dance Festival: Odissi, one of the oldest classical dance forms in India, holds a unique place in Odisha’s performing arts. Believed to have originated in the ancient Hindu temples of Odisha, Odissi revolves around expressive movements and ritual hand gestures. To pay tribute to this great dance form, the Mukteswar Dance Festival is celebrated annually from January 14 to 16. Distinguished Odissi dancers from various parts of the state participate, attracting classical dance enthusiasts from around the world to Bhubaneswar.
Cuttack and Bhubaneswar, the cities of Odisha, truly showcase India’s diversity and cultural richness through their vibrant festivals. The celebratory spirit, adorned with artistic expressions, grand decorations, and devout offerings, creates an enchanting atmosphere that leaves visitors captivated. As you plan your travel, consider timing your visit to these cities during their festive seasons to experience the grandeur of their cultural traditions while immersing yourself in the joyous celebrations. It is an opportunity to witness India’s soul, where unity in diversity is celebrated with exuberance and harmony.