About Odisha(Orissa)

About Odisha(Orissa)

About Odisha(Orissa) Also Known as Orissa, Utkala .Odisha is a place like no other, a glowing green jewel of a state. On the east, 300 miles (482 km) of gentle coastline are open to the Bay of Bengal, while the high hills and mountains of the Eastern Ghats seal the western borders. In between, lie 96,000 square miles (156,000 sq kms) of peaceful, rural beauty. Orissa is home to three mighty rivers and to the largest fresh/salt water lake in Asia, to dozens of the most sacred places of pilgrimage in India, and to hundreds of thousands of small, traditional villages, in which almost all of her 26 million people live. Only four cities have more than one hundred thousand inhabitants, and Orissa’s urban and rural populations alike share a strong sense of the holiness of their beautiful land and of their enduring links with the past.

Odisha State

A state of India , About Odisha located on the east coast of India, by the Bay of Bengal. It is the modern name of the ancient nation of Kalinga, which was invaded by the Maurya Emperor Ashoka in 261 BC. The modern state of Odisha was established on 1 April 1936 at Kanika Palace, Cuttack, as a province in India, and consists predominantly of Odia speakers.

1 April is therefore celebrated as Utkal Divas (Odisha Day). Odisha is the ninth largest state by area in India, and the eleventh largest by population. Odia is the official and most widely spoken language with 93.33% Odia speakers according to linguistic survey. Odisha has a relatively unindented coastline (about 480 km long) and lacks good ports, except for the deepwater facility at Paradip.

Location of Odisha

The narrow, level coastal strip, including the Mahanadi River delta About Odisha supports the bulk of the population. The interior of the state is mountainous and sparsely populated. Deomali at 1672 m is the highest point of the state. Odisha is subject to intense cyclones. The most intense one, in October 1999, Tropical Cyclone caused severe damage and some 10256 deaths. Odisha is home to the Hirakud Dam, near Sambalpur the longest earthen dam in the world.

Spread over a sprawling area of 1.55 lakh sq kms, it lies in the tropical zones along the eastern seaboard of India. One can find an unmatched blend of rural tranquility with boisterous modern adroitness here. The scenic beauty of the place so much overpowers your spirit that the poet inside you is awakened. .

Temples of Odisha

Odisha has several popular tourist destinations. Puri, Konark & Bhubaneswar are known as Golden triangle of eastern India. Puri, with the Jagannath temple near the sea (famous for Rath Yatra or the Car Festival), and Konark, with the Sun Temple, are visited by thousands of tourists every year. The Jagannath Temple of Puri, the Konark Sun Temple, the Lingaraj Temple, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, Dhauligiri of Bhubaneshwar, Ashoka’s famous Rock Edict at Jaugada near Berhampur city and the Barabati Fort of Cuttack are important in the archaeological history of India.

Bhubaneswar,the city of temples with important places to visit like, Bindusagar, Vaital temple, Mukteshwar temple, Kedareswar temple, Parasurameswara temple, Lingaraja temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Raja Rani temple and Brahmeswar temple etc. In addition, one can visit the Planetarium and the Tribal museum near Baramunda Bus Station west of New town, and the Handicraft Museum and Botanical garden. Caves of Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri (8 Km from Bhubaneshwar), Udaygiri, and Khandgiri, the White Pagoda and Rock edicts at Dhauli, Taptapani near Cuttack are some of the interesting places to visit.

One can go to Puri (62 kms), to see the impressive Lord Jagannath temple and witness the Rath Yatra. Chilka Lake, Simlipal National Park (36km from Bhubaneswar), Barheipani Water Falls (106 km), Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary, Hirakund, Dumduma Waterfall etc. are also worth seeing.

A visit to Konark (62 km from Bhubaneshwar) to see the famous Sun temple is a must, especially the Chariot of the sun shown here. Pipli (21 km from Bhubaneshwar) is famous for applique handicraft. Nandankanan, (23 km from Bhubaneshwar) is a Lion Safari Park & a park where animals are kept in a zoo resembling a natural jungle. Gopalpur- on-sea (196 km) is a beautiful beach resort and last but not the least, the Hirakud Dam.

Ancient History of Odisha

The mention of Orissa dates back to 260 BC, the reign of Emperor Ashoka. While spreading the boundaries of his kingdom, the emperor reached the gates of the then Kalinga and invoked its king to fight or flee. In the absence of her father, the princess of the state took reins and fought bravely with the emperor. The war was a true massacre and the bloodshed that took place moved the emperor so much that his killing instinct was capsized. A warrior was thence transformed into a great apostle of Buddhism. Buddhism followed by Jainism held sway until after the reassertion of Hinduism in the state in 7th century AD.

In 1803, the British under the British East India Company annexed the Maratha province of Odisha after the Second Anglo-Maratha War. The northern and western districts of Odisha were incorporated into Bengal Presidency. Following famine and floods in 1866, large scale irrigation projects were undertaken in the last half of the 19th century. The coastal section was separated from Bengal and made into the Province of Bihar and Odisha in 1912, in response to local agitation for a separate state for the Odia-speaking people. In 1936, Bihar and Odisha were split into separate provinces.

THE VARIOUS RULERS OF KALINGA

In the 3rd century BC (268 BC), Ashoka the great Mauryan ruler of the same dynasty, sent a powerful army to annex Kalinga into his empire. The battle of Kalinga was fierce and bloody. It led to much destruction and carnage. Kalinga was subdued by Ashoka at Dhaulagiri near Bhubaneswar, but so was his heart, because after seeing the aftermath of the war, he felt great remorse. Seeing the ephemeral nature of everything earthly and the uselessness of running after it, he converted to Buddhism and spent the rest of his life spreading the light of Buddhist teachings far and wide. (The battleground is marked by a rock edict and a pillar at Dhuli, 5 km from Bhubaneswar). His philosophy of life now was peace and therefore in addition to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism also co-existed during the Mauryan Dynasty.

After the death of Ashoka, Kalinga regained independence. In the second century BC, it became a powerful country under the Kharvelas. The Kharvela king was a fervent Jain, who extended his empire. Description of his capital and kingdom remain recorded for posterity in the Udayagiri caves near Bhubaneswar, through inscriptions and carvings. Many of the Jain caves were built under his and his Queen’s patronage.

With the death of Kharvela, Orissa passed into obscurity. In the fourth century AD, Samudragupta invaded Orissa, which lay in his path of conquest, and overcame resistance offered by five of its kings. In 610 AD, King Sasanka, an able ruler, ruled Orissa. After Sasanka’s death, Orissa came under the sway of Harsha.

Orissa had its own independent dynasty of rulers in the 7th century AD. This period was also an epoch making period of temple construction activities in Bhubaneswar under the Kesaris (7th-12 century). In 795 AD, Mahasiva Gupta Yayati II came to the throne, and with him began the most brilliant chapter in the history of Orissa.

He was responsible for uniting Utkal, Kostala, Kangoda and Kalinga in the imperial tradition of Khasvela. The streak of the golden period in the history of Orissa continued under the kings of the Ganga dynasty (12th-15th century). The kings of this dynasty who were affluent due to trade etc., made and supported ambitious programs of developing temple architecture. They were responsible for the Jagannath Puri temple and the Sun temple at Konark, which was built under the patronage of king Nara Singha Dev.

From the 14th century, Orissa was ruled successfully by five Muslim kings till 1592, when Akbar annexed it to the Mughal empire. This period saw the destruction of temples in Bhubaneshwar and Puri.

The Marathas followed the Mughals in 1751, till the British took over in 1803.

In 1936 Orissa was made into a separate province by the state’s merger order (Governor’s provinces) of 1949. Princely states in and around Orissa surrendered their sovereignty to the Government of India and merged with the state of Orissa on 19th August 1949 (after India’s independence in 1947 .

KALINGA

Orissa, the land of the Oriyas, was known as “Kalinga” in ancient times. Very early in Kalingan history, the Kalingas acquired a reputation for being a fiercely independant people. Ashoka’s military campaign against Kalinga was one of the bloodiest in Mauryan history on account of the fearless and heroic resistance offered by the Kalingas to the mighty armies of the expanding Mauryan empire. Perhaps on account of their unexpected bravery, emperor Ashoka was compelled to issue two edicts specifically calling for a just and benign administration in Kalinga.

Unsurprisingly, Mauryan rule over Kalinga did not last long. By the 1st C. BC, Kalinga’s Jain identified ruler Kharavela had become the pre-eminent monarch of much of the sub-continent and Mauryan Magadha had become a province of the Kalingan empire. The earliest surviving monuments of Orissa (in Udaigiri near Bhubaneshwar) date from his reign, and surviving inscriptions mention that Prince Kharavela was trained not only in the military arts, but also in literature, mathematics, and the social sciences. He was also reputed to be a great patron of the arts and was credited with encouraging dance and theater in his capital.

Although the bravery of the Kalingas became legendary, and finds mention in the Sahitya Darpan, it is important to note that a hereditary warrior caste like the Kshatriyas did not take hold in the region. Soldiers were drawn from the peasantry as needed and rank in the military depended as much on fighting skills and bravery as on hereditary factors. In this (and other) respects, Oriya history resembles more the history of the nations of South East Asia, and may have been one of the features of Oriya society that allowed it to successfully fend off 300 years of raids initiated by numerous Islamic rulers untill the 16th century.

THE VARIOUS RULERS OF KALINGA

In the 3rd century BC (268 BC), Ashoka the great Mauryan ruler of the same dynasty, sent a powerful army to annex Kalinga into his empire. The battle of Kalinga was fierce and bloody. It led to much destruction and carnage. Kalinga was subdued by Ashoka at Dhaulagiri near Bhubaneswar, but so was his heart, because after seeing the aftermath of the war, he felt great remorse. Seeing the ephemeral nature of everything earthly and the uselessness of running after it, he converted to Buddhism and spent the rest of his life spreading the light of Buddhist teachings far and wide. (The battleground is marked by a rock edict and a pillar at Dhuli, 5 km from Bhubaneswar). His philosophy of life now was peace and therefore in addition to Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism also co-existed during the Mauryan Dynasty.

After the death of Ashoka, Kalinga regained independence. In the second century BC, it became a powerful country under the Kharvelas. The Kharvela king was a fervent Jain, who extended his empire. Description of his capital and kingdom remain recorded for posterity in the Udayagiri caves near Bhubaneswar, through inscriptions and carvings. Many of the Jain caves were built under his and his Queen’s patronage.

With the death of Kharvela, Orissa passed into obscurity. In the fourth century AD, Samudragupta invaded Orissa, which lay in his path of conquest, and overcame resistance offered by five of its kings. In 610 AD, King Sasanka, an able ruler, ruled Orissa. After Sasanka’s death, Orissa came under the sway of Harsha.

Orissa had its own independent dynasty of rulers in the 7th century AD. This period was also an epoch making period of temple construction activities in Bhubaneswar under the Kesaris (7th-12 century). In 795 AD, Mahasiva Gupta Yayati II came to the throne, and with him began the most brilliant chapter in the history of Orissa.

He was responsible for uniting Utkal, Kostala, Kangoda and Kalinga in the imperial tradition of Khasvela. The streak of the golden period in the history of Orissa continued under the kings of the Ganga dynasty (12th-15th century). The kings of this dynasty who were affluent due to trade etc., made and supported ambitious programs of developing temple architecture. They were responsible for the Jagannath Puri temple and the Sun temple at Konark, which was built under the patronage of king Nara Singha Dev.

From the 14th century, Orissa was ruled successfully by five Muslim kings till 1592, when Akbar annexed it to the Mughal empire. This period saw the destruction of temples in Bhubaneshwar and Puri.

The Marathas followed the Mughals in 1751, till the British took over in 1803.

In 1936 Orissa was made into a separate province by the state’s merger order (Governor’s provinces) of 1949. Princely states in and around Orissa surrendered their sovereignty to the Government of India and merged with the state of Orissa on 19th August 1949 (after India’s independence in 1947).

Maharaja Krushna Chnadra Gajapati, Pandit Nilakantha Das, Bhubanananda Das and many other came true. The district of Ganjam was transferred from Madras Presidency to the new province of Odisha on 1 April 1936. From that time onwards people of Odisha celebrate the day 1 April as Utkal Divas or Odisha Day. Following Indian independence, the area of Odisha was almost doubled and the population was increased by a third by the addition of 24 former princely states. In 1950, Odisha became a constituent state in the Union of India. Since prehistoric days the land of Odisha has been inhabited by various people. The earliest settlers of Odisha were primitive hill tribes.

Although prehistoric communities cannot be identified, it is well known that Odisha had been inhabited by tribes like Saora or Sabar from the Mahabharata days. Saora in the hills and the Sahara and Sabar of the plains continue to be an important tribe distributed almost all over Odisha. Most of the tribal people have been influenced by Hindus and have adopted Hindu manners, customs and rituals. Bonda Parajas of Koraput district are the best example of these tribes. Several pre-historic sites have been excavated in Odisha since the arrival of Britishers. Kaliakata of Angul, Kuchai & Kuliana of Mayurbhanj, Vikramkhol near Jharsuguda, Gudahandi and Yogimath of Kalahandi, Ushakothi of Sambalpur, Similikhol near Bargarh etc.

Tribal of Odisha State

In Orissa one out of every four persons is an Adivasi or Tribal. These tribals are heavily concentrated in the hilly tracts of Western Orissa. In the coastal regions they constitute a small percentage. They live there in a certain degree of seclusion and prestine form. They must have settled there in obscure past long before the coming of the Aryans.

The aboriginals still lead a simple, traditional and colourful life, hunting and agriculture, amidst deep woods, valleys, lush forests, and primitive situations in spite of the inroads of so-called modern civilization and developmental programmes. Over 62 distinct tribal groups live in Orissa, each one with its own culture and traditions different from the other. The main Adivasi groups include Kondh, Bondas, Santals, Juangs, Parajas, Oraon, Godabas and Koyas.

The dormitory life among the Bonda youngs is quite fascinating. In the evening unmarried boys and girls enjoy music, dance, frolic and fun together and spend the night in dormitories until their mutual intimacy develops into a marriage. The simple, gay, abundant and colourful tribal life can be a great source of entertainment and education to the visitors. Their life is most characterized by dance, music, rituals, hunting, gaiety and wild ways.

Various Resources of Odisha

Orissa has vast mineral, marine and forest resources for setting up large, medium and small scale industries. Today Orissa can boast of a leviathan Steel Plant at Rourkela, Sand Complex at Chhatrapur, Heavy Water Project at Talcher, Aluminium Smelter at Talcher and a fertilizer Plant at Paradeep. In spite of this rapid industrialization, Orissa remains mainly an agricultural state and over 76 percent of its people are dependent on agriculture. Rice, pulses, oil seeds, jute, sugarcane, turmeric and coconut are its main crops.

Over 76% of the people are dependent on agriculture. Out of the gross cropped area of 87.46 lakh hectares are 87.79 lakh hectares are irrigated. Rice, pulses, oil-seeds, jute, mesta, sugarcane, coconut and turmeric are important crops. The state contributes one-tenth of the rice production in India.

ODISHA: CULTURE


Orissa is also noted for its classical dance Odissi and many folk forms like Chhau, Chaiti Ghoda, Patua Jatra and tribal forms. Orissa is also famous for its traditional handicrafts which include glass beads, stone carvings, silver filigree, horn-work, wood carvings, lacquer and bamboo wares, toys, sea-shell work, banana fibre works, tassar fabrics, lustrous handloom silks and curtains.

ODISHA CENSUS

As of 1991, the time that the last recorded census was taken, there were approximately 31, 660, 000 people living in the state of Orissa. Fewer than 14% of all citizens of Orissa live in cities. This number illustrates the great number of people who live in the country and work on farms. The ratio of males to females is about 1: 9.7. About one half of all the people living in Orissa can read, a high number for a relatively rural state. The most common language spoken in Orissa is Oriya. The average individual income, annually, is 3,963 Rupees.

ODISHA INDUSTRIES

Owing to its vast mineral resources, metallurgy developed quite naturally in ancient Orissa and may have been an additional factor in catapulting the region to considerable importance during the Iron Age. Iron tools were used in agricultural production, digging irrigation canals, stone quarrying, cave excavation and later monumental architecture. Rice cultivation got a particular fillip and during the iron age irrigation works from Orissa spread to the regions of ancient Andhra and Tamil Nadu around 300 BC Orissa also became a major steel producing center and steel beams were extensively used in the monumental temples of Bhubaneswar and Puri.

The Central Sector Projects are: Steel Plant at Rourkela, SAND Complex at Chhatrapur, Heavy Water Project at Talcher, Coach Repairing Workshop at Mancheswar, Aluminum Complex at Koraput, Captive Power Plant at Angul, Aluminum Smelter at Angul and Fertilizer Plant at Paradeep. Major thermal and hydel power stations are Talcher, Hirakud, and Chiplima. Major rhermal and hydel power stations are Talcher, Hirakud and Chiplima. Other power projects are Upper Indravati, Upper Kolab, Rengali and Ib.

Industry also plays a key role in the economy. Products manufactured in Orissa include textiles, paper, leather goods, cement, soap, glass, aluminum, and flour. Some of the natural resources that are mined are iron, coal, and zinc. Orissa has trade relations with other states of India, the United States, Japan, Britain, and Germany.

There are many products that are shipped in and out of Orissa annually. The main exports are expensive gems, fish, fancy jewelry, baskets, and clothing. Orissa is known worldwide for its fine cloths and the painstaking effort with which they are made. Orissa also imports many things. The chief imports are machinery, steel, and fuel.

ODISHA: PLACES OF INTEREST

Bhubaneswar,the city of temples with important places to visit like, Bindusagar, Vaital temple, Mukteshwar temple, Kedareswar temple, Parasurameswara temple, Lingaraja temple, Ananta Vasudeva Temple, Raja Rani temple and Brahmeswar temple etc. In addition, one can visit the Planetarium and the Tribal museum near Baramunda Bus Station west of New town, and the Handicraft Museum and Botanical garden. Caves of Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri (8 Km from Bhubaneshwar), Udaygiri, and Khandgiri, the White Pagoda and Rock edicts at Dhauli, Taptapani near Cuttack are some of the interesting places to visit.

One can go to Puri (62 kms), to see the impressive Lord Jagannath temple and witness the Rath Yatra. Chilka Lake, Simlipal National Park (36km from Bhubaneswar), Barheipani Water Falls (106 km), Ushakothi Wildlife Sanctuary, Hirakund, Dumduma Waterfall etc. are also worth seeing.

A visit to Konark (62 km from Bhubaneshwar) to see the famous Sun temple is a must, especially the Chariot of the sun shown here. Pipli (21 km from Bhubaneshwar) is famous for applique handicraft. Nandankanan, (23 km from Bhubaneshwar) is a Lion Safari Park & a park where animals are kept in a zoo resembling a natural jungle. Gopalpur- on-sea (196 km) is a beautiful beach resort and last but not the least, the Hirakud Dam. Know More..

MONASTERIES OF ODISHA


Monasteries can also be found in Orissa, famous amongst them being the Buddhist caves & monasteries at Ratnagiri, Lalitgiri and Udayagiri near Bhubaneswar. Seven kilometers from Bhubaneswar, one comes across the Jain caves at Ratnagiri. 90 km from Bhubaneswar, two monasteries have been excavated.

The Orissa state Museum in Gautam Nagar opposite Hotel Kalinga-Ashok Bubneshwar. The collections in this museum includes palm leaf manuscripts, stone inscriptions and tools, copper plates, coins, excavated artifacts, folk musical instruments, tribal portraits, and an interesting display of Orissa’s tribal anthropology.

CLOTHING OF ODISHA

Light cottons in summer and light woolens in winter. If one plans to visit any hilly area in Orissa, then good woolen clothing is recommended in winters.

ODISHA: CRAFTS AND TRADE

Being a coastal region, maritime trade played an important role in the development of Oriya civilization. Cultural, commercial and political contacts with South East Asia, particularly Southern Burma, Malaysia and Indonesia were especially extensive and maritime enterprises play an interesting part in Oriya folk-tales and poetry. Historical records suggest that around the 7th C. AD, the Kongoda dynasty from central Orissa may have migrated to Malaysia and Indonesia. There is also evidence of exchange of embassies with China. Records of Oriya traders being active in the ports of South East Asia are fairly numerous and in his descriptions of Malacca, Portuguese merchant Tome Pires indicates that traders from Orissa were active in the busy port as late as the 16th C.

(There is evidence to suggest that trade contact between Eastern India and Thailand may date as far back as the 3rd or 4th century BC. Himanshu Ray in his book, The Winds of Change – Buddhism and the Maritime Links of Early South Asia, suggests that at least eight oceanic routes linked the Eastern Coast of India with the Malayan peninsula, and after the Iron Age, metals (such as iron, copper and tin), cotton textiles and foodstuffs comprised the trade. She also suggests that the trade involved both Indian and Malayo-Polynesian ships. Archeological evidence from Sisupalgarh (near Bhubaneswar) in Orissa suggests that there may also have been direct or indirect trade contacts between ancient Orissa and Rome dating to the 1st-2nd C AD (or possibly earlier). The chronicles of Huen Tsang refer to Orissa’s overseas contacts in the 7th C, and by the 10th C, records of Orissa’s trade with the East begin to proliferate.)

Adequate agricultural production combined with a flourishing maritime trade contributed to a flowering of Orissan arts and crafts especially textiles. Numerous communities of weavers and dyers became active throughout the state perfecting techniques like weaving of fine Muslins, Ikat, Sambalpuri and Bomkai silks and cottons, appliqué and embroidery. Orissa was also known for it’s brass and bell metal work, lacquered boxes and toys, intricate ivory, wood and stone carvings, patta painting and palm leaf engraving, basket weaving and numerous other colorful crafts. Often, decorative techniques relied on folk idioms as in the painted, circular playing cards known as Ganjifas.

Later, Cuttack became the center for lace-like exquisite silver filigree work, (known as Tarakashi) when Orissa was brought under Mughal rule.

ODISHA: PHILOSOPHY, LANGUAGE AND IDEALOGY

Both Buddhism and Jainism played an important role in the cultural and philosophical developments of early Oriya civilization. Most Buddhist and Jain texts were written in Pali-Prakrit and the Prakrita Sarvasva, a celebrated Prakrit grammar text was authored by Markandeya Das, an Oriya. Kharavela’s Hatigumpha inscription is in Pali, leading to the speculation that Pali may have been the original language of the Oriya people.

By the 7th C. AD, Brahminism had also become influential, especially in the courts and Hiuen Tsang (the well-known Chinese chronicler) observed how Buddhist Viharas and Brahminic temples flourished side by side. And although royal inscriptions of this time were in Sanskrit, the most commonly spoken language was not, and according to Hiuen Tsang appeared to be quite distinct from the language of Central India, and may have been a precursor of modern day Oriya.

But even as the Bhauma Kings of the 6th-8th C issued edicts in Sanskrit, they patronized numerous Buddhist institutions and the art, architecture and poetry of the period reflected the popularity of Buddhism in the region.

Later, Orissa’s Buddhism came to be modulated by strong Tantric influences, while a more traditional Vedic and Brahminical version of Hinduism was brought to Orissa by Brahmins from Kannauj. Shaivism from the South was institutionalized in Puri. In addition, the majority of Orissa’s adivasis continued to practice some form of animism and totem-worship. Unifying all these different traditions was the Shiva-Shakti cult which evolved from an amalgamation of Shaivism (worship of Shiva), Shaktism (worship of the Mother Goddess) and the Vajrayana, or Tantric form of Mahayana Buddism.

What made possible this fusion was that apart from the formal distinctions that separated these different religious and philosophical trends, in practical matters, there was a growing similiarity between them. Whereas early Buddhism and the Nyaya school within Hinduism had laid considerable stress on rationalism and scientific investigation of nature, later Buddhism and the Shaivite schools both emphasized philosphical variants of concepts first developed in the Upanishads, along with mysticism and devotion. Tantrism had also developed along a dual track – on the one hand it had laid emphasis on gaining practical knowledge and a clear understanding of nature – on the other, it too came steeped in mysticism and magic.

At the same time, the Buddhist ethos had created an environment where compromise was preferred to confrontation. This allowed tribal deities and gods and goddesses associated with numerous fertility cults to be integrated into the Hindu pantheon. Tantric constructs also met with some degree of approval.

Since Tantrism emphasized the erotic as a means to spiritual salvation, the culture of austerity and sexual abstinence that had pervaded early Buddhism was replaced with an unapologetic embrace of all that was erotic.

Unlike some other parts of India, Oriya society had not yet been deeply differentiated by caste, and egalitarian values remained well-ingrained amongst the peasant masses. Hence, any idealogy that championed a hierarchical division of society would have been unacceptable. The Shiva Shakti cult was a compromise in that while it did not exclude social inequality, it did not preclude social mobility either. In fact, the cult became popular precisely because it articulated the possibility of upward mobility through the acquisition of knowledge, skill or energetic personal effort.

ODISHA: YOGINI CULTS

Tantric influences were of particular import for the survival of the Yogini cults in Orissa. The Yogini cults concentrated on worship of the shakti (female life force), with a belief in the efficacy of magic ritual. In ancient texts, Yoginis are depicted as consorts of Yogis, and like their male companions practiced yoga to gain mastery over science and acquire magical powers. Some tantric schools associated with the Yogini cults such as the Kaula Marga prescribed Maithuna (sexual intercourse) with outcast women or women of low caste as the most consummate soul-lifting experience. Although Yogini cults were not unique to Orissa, two out of four surviving Yogini temples are to be found in Hirapur and Ranipur-Jharial.

The Hirapur temple is ascribed to the Bhauma and Somavansi rulers of Orissa (mid 8th – mid 10th C. AD) who were known for their eclectic liberalism and noted for their patronage of philosophy, art, architecture and literature.

ODISHA: LITERATURE

While the literature of the court and the intelligentsia was primarily written in Sanskrit, and included a variety of commentaries and theoretical treatises on religion, politics, art and literature as well as reworks of the epics, popular literature in Oriya initially focused on folk tales, ballades, creation myths, devotional songs, love poetry and erotica.

But in the 15th century, the Gangas who were patrons of many of Orissa’s monumental temples were defeated by Kapilendra Deva, who rose from the ranks to found the Surya dynasty. It was in his reign that Sarala Das wrote a popular Oriya version of the Mahabharatha. Sarala Das arose from a peasant family and took his name from the goddess Sarala who was worshipped in his village in the district of Cuttack. He described himself as an unschooled ‘Shudra’ and became popularly known as Shudra-muni. Although the broad themes his Mahabharatha match other traditional versions, there is much that was original and written with a popular sensibility. His version knitted in local folk tales and ballads, and incorporated the ethical and moral values then embraced by the artisan class and peasantry.

The Chandi Purana, also written by Sarala Das referred to Yoginis as forms of the Devi or the Supreme Goddess illustrating the continued popular appeal of the Yogini cults in Orissa’s coastal belt.

Thus what emerged in Orissa from the 9th century on was a heady cocktail of mystical and practical currents that allowed for a certain degree of social mobility and provided space for ordinary peasants to make contributions to popular literature and poetry.

This stimulated the popularity of reading and since there were no taboos against learning Oriya, literacy spread in the villages and such popular literature developed a wide mass following. A network of village libraries housed popular texts in neatly transcribed versions. Illuminated manuscripts and illustrated epics also became popular. By some accounts, literacy in many villages reached 40% or more before the onslaught of colonial rule.

DECLINE OF ODIA CIVILIZATION

The first signs of decline in Oriya society came as the administrators of the Ganga and Surya kings began to usurp undue privileges and acquire a greater number of hereditary rights. At the same time, religious affairs began to be dominated by the Puri Brahmins who were instrumental in promoting ever increasing ritual and unprecedented ceremonial pomp during religious festivals. Tribal deities were slowly edged out as Brahminical gods acquired supremacy. Social mobility declined and the first concrete appearances of a formalized caste system began to appear. The Patnaiks, Mahapatras, Nayakas and others who had played a major role in the royal administration, along with the Brahmins comprised the upper-caste elite as social stratification crystallized.

The silting up of Orissa’s major rivers in the 16th C. led to a severe decline in maritime trade and may have further aggravated socially regressive trends. Orissa also suffered decisive defeats at the hands of Raja Man Singh (Akbar’s military general) and the Marathas, leaving it dismembered and particularly vulnerable against the British who colonized it soon after the victory in Bengal.

ODISHA DURING COLONIAL RULE

Like much of India, colonial rule had a devastating impact on the economic and social life of the Oriya people. Numerous categories of crafts workers, especially weavers and dyers were bankrupted and reduced to abject poverty. The peasantry suffered under the burden of backbreaking taxes and forced unpaid labor. But the Oriyas did not accept subjugation without putting up heroic resistance. Just three years after British occupation, Jayakrishna Rajguru – hereditary priest of the Gajapatis (or the Rajas of Khurda) organized a revolt that ended in tragic defeat and his public hanging at the hands of the British. In 1818 there was another revolt when the entire state rose up under the leadership of Bakshi Jagabandhu Vidyadhara of Khurda. For six months the people of Southern Orissa were practically freed from British rule but in the end the rebellion was ruthlessly quelled and the aftermath was to be disastrous.

The nobility was systematically decimated, the Paikas – the national militia were disarmed and disinherited, and the peasantry already reduced to virtual slavery. All administrative posts not directly handled by the British were assigned to Bengalis who were perceived to be more loyal to British rule. From local police constables to assistant school teachers – Bengalis were hired but Oriyas excluded. Bengali chauvinists in Calcutta defended such a regime, some even going to the extent of demanding that all Oriyas be taught in Bengali since Oriya was nothing but a minor dialect of Bengali.

Even as urban Bengal received a few concessions like the founding of universities and cultural societies – Orissa was reduced to a minor outpost of the colonial empire – a cultural wasteland. Orissa’s future was now inextricably linked to the growth of the national struggle in Bengal and the rest of the country, and any hint of growth in the national movement naturally drew enthusiastic support from nationalist-minded Oriyas.

Although independence brought about dramatic improvements in the lives of all sections of the population, two centuries of damage wrought by colonial rule could not be easily undone after independence. As evident from recent census results, high levels of poverty and illiteracy continue to dog the state.

For Orissa to regain it’s ancient vitality, it will require not only greater sympathy from other Indians but a conscious programme of affirmative action from the centre that promotes mass education and employment opportunities so that Orissa can fully join the Indian mainstream as a vibrant and equal member of the Indian union.

Note: References to ancient Orissa may well include parts of Jharkhand, Southern Bengal, Chhatisgarh and Northern Andhra – which at various times were politically integrated into the different kingdoms of ancient and medieval Odisha.

ABOUT ODISHA FAQ

What is the Speciality of Odisha?

Odisha is famous for its heritage sites and enthralling views. From beaches to pilgrimage sites, Odisha offers a lot of sightseeing opportunities to travellers from across the globe. Moreover, Puri Beach Festival and the Jagannath Rath Yatra attracts tons of tourists to Odisha yearly

What is the lifestyle of Odisha?

Odisha is also a state with one of the lowest crime rates. Finding joy in the simple pleasures of life, its people are down-to-earth with minimal needs. The state may be slow in terms of development and poor in terms of economy, but a bowl of pakhala (water-soaked rice) is all it takes to put a smile on an Odia’s face

What is Odisha culture?

In its long history, Odisha has had a continuous tradition of dharmic religions especially Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. … However, while Odisha is predominantly Hindu it is not monolithic. There is a rich cultural heritage in the state owing to the Hindu faith. For example, Odisha is home to several Hindu saints.

What is known as Orissa?

Odisha, formerly called Orissa, state of India. … In late 2011 the state’s name was officially changed from Orissa to Odisha. Area 60,119 square miles (155,707 square km). Pop.

Why is Odisha famous?

Odisha, is known for its rich history and culture. Located on the on the eastern coast of India along the Bay of Bengal it is perhaps most famous for its temples and national parks. … This culturally rich state was once part of the historical kingdom of Kalinga.

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