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Of all the re­gional cul­tures, Odisha or an­cient Kalinga played a very con­spic­u­ous and vi­tal role in the cul­tural matrix of In­dian civ­i­liza­tion. Si­t­u­ated on the east­ern coast of In­dia,it im­bibed the quintessence of cul­tural tra­di­tions of both North­ern In­dia and South­ern In­dia, yet it suc­ceeded in de­vel­op­ing a dis­tinct iden­tity of its own in the realms of cre­ative arts. The Odisha cul­ture has a three tiered struc­ture with in­ter­faces and in­ter­po­la­tion, the tribal/eth­nic, the folk/peas­ant and the ur­ban/clas­si­cal, which ex­isted side by side, en­rich­ing and en­larg­ing the cul­tural di­men­sions. The cul­tural her­itage of Odisha is one of the old­est, em­brac­ing a pe­riod of about three thou­sand years.

Odisha has a dis­tinct tra­di­tion of paint­ing, ar­chi­tec­ture, sculp­ture hand­i­crafts, mu­sic and dance.

Va­ri­eties of en­ter­tain­ment in the shape of mu­sic, dance, drama and lit­er­a­ture recorded in palm-leaf manuscripts and in stone carv­ings in tem­ples re­flect a high de­gree of ex­cel­lence. Ini­tially there was folk art but th­ese were later re­fined into clas­si­cal mu­sic, dance, drama and lit­er­a­ture and gained a new lease of life since In­de­pen­dence. No as­pect of life was un­touched by this ex­cep­tion­ally high de­gree of artis­tic sen­si­bil­ity. Odissi dance orig­i­nated 2000 years ago in its tem­ples and finds men­tion in the Natyashas­tra of Bharata­muni, pos­si­bly writ­ten circa 200 BCE. Odissi dance deals largely with the love theme of Radha and Kr­ishna, mostly drawn from com­po­si­tions by the no­table Oriya poet Jayadeva. This dance was kept alive by the tem­ple de­vada­sis. Com­mend­able ef­forts were made in re­cent times by many en­thu­si­asts to pro­mote Odissi among who stands the name of late Kavichan­dra Kalicha­ran Pat­naik. The gu­rus who raised the dance form to the level of in­ter­na­tional em­i­nence are Guru Raghu­nath Dutta, padmab­hu­san Kelu Cha­ran Ma­ha­p­a­tra, win­ner of Kal­i­das Sam­man, Pad­mashree Pankaj Cha­ran Das and Deba Prasad Das. Renowned artists of Odissi Dance in­clude Priyam­bada He­j­madi, Pad­mashree San­jukta Pan­i­grahi, Mi­nati Mishra, Kumkum Mo­hanty, Oopalie Opara­jita, Sangeeta Das, etc.

Ch­hau dance (or Chau dance) is a form of tribal mar­tial dance at­trib­uted to ori­gins in Mayurb­hanj princely state of Odisha.

Ma­hari Dancers, known as Sa­marpada Niyoga, dance dur­ing the cer­e­mo­nial pro­ces­sion of the deities such as Ratha Ya­tra, Jhu­lana Ya­tra, Dola Ya­tra. etc.

Western Odisha has also great va­ri­ety of dance forms. Pro­fes­sional en­ter­tain­ers per­form Dand, Dang­gada, Mudgada, Ghumra, Sad­hana, Sabar–sabarein, Dis­digo, Nachina–ba­j­nia, Sam­parda and San­char. Pala is a unique form of bal­ladry in Odisha, which ar­tis­ti­cally com­bines el­e­ments of theatre, clas­si­cal Odissi mu­sic, highly re­fined Oriya and San­skrit po­etry, wit, and hu­mour. The Gotipua dance was per­formed by young boys dressed as girls. Ra­mananda, the Gov­er­nor of Ra­jamahun­dri and the fa­mous Vaish­navite Min­is­ter of King Prat­apruda was an ar­dent fol­lower of Sri Chai­tanya and the orig­i­na­tor of this boy danc­ing tra­di­tion, as the Va­sish­navas did not ap­prove of fe­males in dance. His dance drama, Ja­gan­nath Val­labha Nataka, per­formed in the Gotipua style, can be seen in Raghu­ra­jpur, 10 km from Puri, near the River Bhar­gabi.


Raghu­ra­jpur is also known as the Crafts Vil­lage, as var­i­ous Odis­han crafts­men re­side in this vil­lage, con­tribut­ing their ex­per­tise in Pat­ta­chi­tra paint­ing and other hand­i­crafts. The Odisha School of paint­ing has three streams – tribal, folk and the clas­si­cal. There is a con­stant in­ter­change

Sankir­tan Sa­maroha or­ga­nized by Odisha Dance and Mu­sic Academy

Patta Chi­tra

Rath Ya­tra from Puri’s Ja­gan­nath Tem­ple

Sun Tem­ple, Konark

Cut­tack sari

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