Art & Culture

Angul District in a nutshell

As per geographical map, Angul is situated in the center of the State and also regarded as the heart of Odisha. It gives highest revenue to the state exchequer. It is also one of the most advanced district of  our State. The district is well connected with Sytate capital & other districts headquarters. The largest coal mine  MCL (Mahanadi Coalfields Limited), National Aluminium Company (NALCO), National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), Heavy Water Plant etc. are situated in the district. Apart from this industrial scenario, Angul is also famous for Satkosia gorge, beautiful natural dense forest, hills, rivers (Mahanadi, Brhamani) etc. The land is fertile due to flowing of river Mahanadi & Bramhani   and its tributaries. Rengali Reservoir on the river Brahmani also helped irrigation facility not only in Angul but also other districts like Dhenkanal, Cuttack, Jajpur and Keonjhar. Due to rapid industrialization, the cosmopolitan culture is visible in many parts of the district but the traditional art, culture, literature, life style have also made Angul District proud. Its cultural heritage is also unique in the State.

Village Communities

Like many other region of the State of Odisha, a village administration was in place in olden days. The village was headed by a Pradhan, who usually was from inside the village and acted as village chief. Some people worked as washer men, smith, watchmen, barber for the whole village community. The pradhan allotted land for cultivation and accepted a part of the produce in return. With the intervention of the British Govt. gradually outsiders replaced the insiders as pradhans but their role was limit to collection of revenue. He became a Govt. servant and not a community leader.

Old village community institution like Bhagabat ghar, kothaghar etc. meant for community gathering, and accommodating outsiders are still in place in many villages. The maintenance of these places are met by the village community. The village community system has again generated a lot of interest now. Successive governments are trying to adopt many of the system followed in the past by the village community.

Religion

As mentioned in the population details majority of the inhabitants of the district are Hindus. The Hinduism here has a touch of the worship method of the adivasis. The example of shapeless Gramdevati smeared with vermilion in different villages is a pointer towards this.

A specific feature of the religious observance of people in Angul is the worship of miniature tanks, Pillars. Some of the inhabitants also follow Nath & Saiva as their deities. Another important religious practice in the district is Mahima Dharma. Apart from that people belonging to other religions are also staying in the district.

The important festival of the district are Durge puja, GajaLaxmi Puja, Basantika Durga Puja,  Dipavali, Shiva ratri & Holi etc. The other festival include  Raja, Nuakhai, Gamha Purnima, Pus Punei are celebrated with traditional fervor and gaiety.

Language

The language of the people is Odia. It has many variants with slight alterations. Some of the tribal use their own language.

Food

The people of the district predominantly use rice as their staple diet. The daily meals consists of boiled rice, dal and vegetables. Chuda (flattened rice), Mudhi (pop rice), Pakhal (watered rice) also are popular food in the district. The tribals consume millet, pulses, beans, sweet potatoes etc.

Dress

Now a days mostly people are using European garments like trousers and shirts .These garments have found their ways even to the remotest village. Elder males of middle class in many cases wear Dhoti and Shirt or Kurta . Poor and even middle class people males wear only Dhoti And use Gamuchha (napkins) on their upper part of the body.

Women irrespective of caste and social condition wear Saree. Most of them wear Blouse with Saree. The mode of wearing saree varies slightly with the class.The tribals wear small cloths around their waist. The Mahima Sanyasis wear different types of clothing according to their sect, the most prominent being the Saffron colored cloth.

    The ornaments worn by women in the district are as follows.

  1. Head – Gojikathi, Chauri mundi, Banka Deuria, Kia patra, Saru Kanthi, Champa kadhi, Suki Hara, Adhuli Hara, Tanka Hara etc.
  2. Ear- Phasia, Baliguna, Jaulinoli.
  3. Nose- Dandi, Notha, Phuli, Naka Chana.
  4. Hands- Gazara, Bataphala, Bida, Tikha, Pane, Taeta.
  5. Leg- Goda Mudi, Bala, Pauza, Jhuntia, Mala.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS

Angul is not only a land of magnificent hill ranges, old monuments, virgin and long river beds, downy flakes melodious jungle streams, healing hot springs, luxuriant forests, picturesque landscape, industrial houses but also a land of exciting and exuberant fasts and festivals. All the seasons of the year are marked with a variety of colourful celebrations. The fasts of folk-life and modernity of an industrial society. The traditions and customs, rites and rituals, dances and delicacies of the district are just precipitous, In these occasions people are seen in best of their attire, costumes and pageantry.

The fasts and festivals of the district are mostly of two types i.e. Sarbajanina or community based and Gharoi or family based. The Gharoi or family festivals are those, which are mostly observed at the level of families as per the traditions of their Kula, Gotra and Varna. A group of families consisting of same kinship or lineage also observe them in common. The Gurubara Manabasa, Sudasa Brata, Sabitri Brata, etc. are some such fasts.

The Sarbajanina festivals are celebrated with pump and ceremony by the people in general at the community level. Some major fasts and festivals of the district are described below.

Hingula Yatra

Hingula Yatra is celebrated with pump and ceremony in Talcher sub-division of the district at the temple of Hingula Thakurani near Gopalprasad. It is regarded as the most significant festival of the district, which draws people from different corners of the state. This is celebrated on Bishnu Damanaka Chaturdasi tithi as per oriya Pajika.

Akshaya Trutiya

This festival is considered as the most ceremonial and auspicious day for sowing of paddy for the current agricultural season. Oblation is offered to Goddess Laxmi. It is also the beginning day of the construction work of Ratha of Lord Jagannath for the ensuing Car Festival.

Chandan Yatra

This starts from Akhaya trutiya and ends on Chandan Purnima. A smaller replica of Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra are taken to the sacred tank for boating. This is aimed for providing comfort and coolness to the Lords from summer. This is celebrated in the Jagannath temples of the district located at Angul, Talamul, Bagedia, Papsara, Khamar and Boinda.

Ratha Yatra

World famous Car festival of Lord Jagannath at Puri is celebrated as one of the most significant festival of the state. Accordingly, Ratha Yatra is also celebrated with full ceremonial approach at Talcher, Angul, Pallahara and Athamallik with all traditional rites and rituals.

Ganesh Puja

The festival is celebrated on the 4th Day of the bright fortnight of lunar month of Bhadrab. Besides different schools, colleges, business houses Ganesh Puja is celebrated with full gaiety and traditional rituals at Talcher. The festival continues to be celebrated for a period of around 11 days, which attracts people from the whole district. Different prominent cultural troops and musical parties from the neighbouring states participate on this occasion. Talcher Ganesh Puja occupies a prominent position in the state for its colourful and ceremonial observance.

Nuakhai

This is the festival of offering the first rice harvested from the agricultural fields to the God/Goddess before human consumption. It is observed on Bhadraba Sukla Panchami Tithi. Specially in Athamallik sub division, this festival is celebrated with care and courage.

Viswakarma puja

This is the puja of Lord viswakarma, the main architect of the universe who had fabricated the universe as per the direction of Brahma, the lord of creation. Mostly this puja is observed in Factories, industrial houses, workshops and other related fabrication houses, Engineering establishments. The important celebration of Biswakarma Puja of the district includes, TTPS (Thermal), NALCO, F.C.I., Rengali and M.C.L. areas.

Durga Puja

Being the most colourful festival of the state, Durga Puja is celebrated with rites and rituals throughout the district. The Mahanadi Coal Field areas observe Durga Puja in a big-way with more than 20 numbers of Puja Mandapas. Besides at Angul on the day of Dusahara the famous ‘Ravanpodi’ Utsav is also observed to mark the victory
of truth over the evil power.

LaxmiPuja / Kumarotsav

Gaja Laxmi puja starts from the day of Kumar Purnima and continues till the next 10 days at Angul. Beautiful images of Goddess Laxmi are prepared in clay and worshiped on brightly decorated puja pendals. This is the most popular and colourful function of the district observed with much pump and ceremony. Besides Angul town, Laxmi puja is also celebrated at Banarpal, Koshala, Athmallik and Pallahara.

Kumarostsav is the day of great pleasure, ecstasy and enjoyment for maiden girls falls on the full moon day of Aswina Purnima. The Moon God is worshiped by the maiden girls on this occasion for a bright future married life.

Kartika Purnima

This is observed on the last day of the lunar month of Kartika. This is specially regarded as the most sacred purnima of the Hindus. Rasa Ustav is also observed to pay honour to Lord Krushna and Radha. To mark the great tradition and cultural heritage of Odisha’s trading community, Boita Bandan is celebrated symbolically through out the
district by floating decorative toy boats in the nearby rivers and ponds.

Sripanchami (Saraswati Puja)

This is observed on the fifth day of the bright fortnight of the lunar month of Magha. Devi Saraswati is worshiped by the students as the Goddess of wisdom and knowledge. Besides, clubs, cultural houses and other institutions also celebrate the puja in the district.

Binkei Yatra

This festival is held on the 10th day after the Dolapurnima in the lunar month of Chaitra. This observation is made in the honour of Mother Goddess Binkei who is the saviour of virtuous and killer of vicious people. A great fair is also arranged for three days with a large no. of shops of variety items. People from far off villages gather for offering prayer to the Goddess and marketing for their household items

MUSIC & DANCE

Dances are many dimensional, such as, martial, ritualistic, ecstatic and funeral etc. Such dances are always accompanied by music which makes them enjoyable. It is generally said that dance and music are complementary to one another.In the tribal communities there are many types of dances. They are pigeon dance, boar dance, elephant
dance, snake dance, bear dance, etc. Now-a-days, dance has degenerated to a great extent. The Changu, a big tambourine, the Ghagudu, a kind of drum and flute are the musical instruments found in their community. In festive occasions as well as in marriage ceremonies, they drink and dance merrily even at times throughout the night. There are many folk songs which are sung at the time of dance.

Danda Nritya

Danda Nritya is the premier and most ancient folk-dance of the district of Angul. This is practiced in all the four sub-divisions of the district. It is a composite synthesis of dance, drama, song and music blended with mythical tales and striking realities of worldly life. This folk-dance is a kind of penance and offering to the almighty for eliciting the blessings of salvation.

This dance commences in between last week of March and 1st of April and ends with Mahabisuva Sankranti i.e mid of April in each year. The devotees who undertake this dance are called Bhuktas. The leader of the group is called the Patabhukta. They lead a hard and sacred life with much austerity during these days and remain away from home. They undertake bodily penance and practice Yogatantra to get the divine grace. The ritual trances of the Nritya proceed as follows. The Dandautha is done before 14 to 21 days of Bisuva Sankranti with a series of rituals and worship at the mid-night. The next day morning witness the Danda-Yatra in which the symbolic representative of God (Shiva) and Goddesses (Paravati) are taken in procession through out the village with the royal decorations,
music, dance and sankriatns. At the time of processions, the decorative items like Chhatri, Chhatra, Alata, Chamara and musical instruments like Veri, Turi, Ghanta, Sankha, Dhola are used. The deities that are taken in procession are known as Siva-Parvati and Parava (Mahakali). The Danda Players decorate themselves with sacred thread and yellow clothes and perform the different phases which includes Dhuli danda, Pani danda, Ratri-Ujagar danda as per its traditional rituals.

In this way Danda Nritya becomes a fine synchronization of community enjoyment with devotion, dedication, and consecration. In this form of folk-dance religion, lyric, music, entertainment and striking realities of life are blended together in a unique manner so as to make it a composite whole of Folk-drama. It is a type of mortification undertaken voluntarily by which absolution, confession and satisfaction is conveyed. The whole dance is a kind of penance offered in the honour of Sakti-upasana. Through Sakti-upasana is found in almost all parts of Odisha, Danda Nirtya with its lyric, art, theme and philosophy has been identified as unique over the centuries.

Ravan Chhaya

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The tradition of shadow puppet theatre in India is very old and thrives only in the States of Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnatak, Tamilnadu, Kerala and Maharastra. Each State has its peculiar design, style, colour-scheme and manipulation technique.

The shadow-puppet theatre of Odisha, is known as Ravan Chhaya. It is titled thus because, the Chhaya or shadow is considered inauspicious and is therefore related to the character of Ravan who is equated with evil. Among all the styles of India it is the simplest with no colour, and almost no dance or fight sequences. With simple movements, the full unjointed figures depict versions of the Bichitra Ramayana. Accompanied by Khanjani (a tambourine variety of instrument) and cymbals, the musicians sing standing in front of the screen. Though most of the puppet figures are made out of deer skin, those of demoniac characters are made from stag skin. Each puppet is fixed with a thin rod of bamboo for manipulation from behind the white curtain. The light is provided by a large earthen lamp fed with castor oil.

The tradition performers of Ravan Chhaya were from the community of Bhats who received the patronage of the local Rajahs of Pallahara in shape of land grants. When all other Bhats discontinued their profession, some Gurus have made it alive now. The repertory group now performs with two sets of puppets, the first which are designed and cut according to the old traditional style and the second with the puppets designed and cut on the model of traditional pata painting of Puri. So, ‘Ravan Chhaya’ is the unique shadow puppet of Angul & Odisha.