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Orissan festivals


The chances of coinciding with a festival while in Orissa are good, since the state celebrates many of its own as well as all the usual Hindu festivals.

Makar Mela

(mid-Jan). Pilgrims descend on a tiny island in Chilika Lake to leave votive offerings in a cave for the goddess Kali.

Adivasis Mela

(Jan 26–Feb 1). Bhubaneswar’s “tribal” fair is a disappointing cross between New York’s Coney Island and an agricultural show, though it does feature good live music and dance.

Magha Saptami

(Jan & Feb). During the full-moon phase of Magha, a small pool at Chandrabhaga beach, near Konark, is swamped by thousands of worshippers in honour of Surya, the sun god and curer of skin ailments.


(early April). In various regions, on the first day of Vaisakha, saffron-clad penitents carrying peacock feathers enter trances and walk on hot coals.

Chaitra Parba

(mid-April). Santals (the largest of Orissa’s many adivasi groups) perform Chhou dances at Baripada in Mayurbhunj district, northern Orissa.


(April & May). Bhubaneswar’s own Car Festival (a procession of temple chariots), when the Lingaraj deity takes a dip in the Bindu Sagar tank.


(May & June). Commemorating the marriage of Shiva and Parvati, celebrated in Sambalpur and Bhubaneswar.

Rath Yatra

(June & July). The biggest and grandest of Orissa’s festivals. Giant images of Lord Jagannath, his brother Balabhadra and his sister Subhadra make the sacred journey from the Jagannath temple to Gundicha Mandir in Puri.

Bali Yatra

(Nov & Dec). Commemorates the voyages made by Orissan traders to Indonesia. Held at full moon on the banks of the River Mahanadi in Cuttack.

Konark Festival

(early Dec). A festival of classical dance featuring Orissan and other regional dance forms in the Sun Temple at Konark.

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