Odisha (Orissa) Tribal Festivals

Odisha (Orissa) Tribal Festivals:

Odisha (Orissa) Tribal Festivals

Among all the states of India, Odisha has the largest number of tribes, as many as 62. in terms of percentage they constitute an impressive 24 percent of the total population of the state. These tribes mainly inhabit the Tribes of Odisha and Eastern Ghats hill range, which runs in the north-south direction. More than half of their population is concerned in three districts of Koraput (undivided), Sundergarh and Mayurbhanj. Being very religious minded, these tribes celebrate a number of tribal festivals in Odisha. The rituals and festivities that are a part of these tribal celebrations provide a window to the age-old customs and traditions of tribes in Odisha.

Some of the most popular tribal festivals celebrated in the state are as follows.

Bali Jatra

The Koraput tribal communities of Odisha celebrate Bali Jatra festival on the same day as that of Karama Festival. The festival begins on the 11thday of the Bhadrab month and continues till the full moon. Putting on fancy dresses, merrymaking, drinking, dancing, and singing are all part of the Bali Jatra festival in Odisha.

Karama Festival

Also spelled 'Karam' the Karama Festival is celebrated by Ho, Kisan, Kol, Bhumij, Oraon, Bhuiyan and Binjhals tribes of Odisha. Not only by tribal communities of Odisha, but the Karama Festival is also a part of the life of aboriginal people in the states of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The festival takes place in Bhadrab month during rainy season. Communities go to jungle along with drummers, cut the branches of Karma tree, bring it back to village and then a ritual follows which also include killing of a fowl and offering its blood to the branch.

Sume Gerilak

This is much-awaited tribal festival celebrated by the Bondas of Koraput. Sume Geralik Festival begins on a Sunday and carries on for 10 days. The tribal people start with worshipping godlings and demons. Later, the priest performs the sacrificing ritual of animals and birds. Singing and dancing expedition is the fun part of this tribal festival. One unique ritual is the striking of boys (each other standing face to face) with pliant tree branches till the last limit. Next, they embrace each other as the priest delivers a message of friendship and love. All of this happens amidst loud beating of drums.

Bija Pandu

Koya tribal communities celebrated the Bija Pandu Festival. These tribal people inhabit the Koya village, located amid dense forests. The festival begins with worshiping of Godling and sacrificing of animals and birds. As a part of the festival celebration, people go out hunting and fishing to return before dark, while women wait for them at home. A special dance is also performed by tribal men and women, decorated with traditional costumes.

Kendu Festival

An important festival of the Kondh tribe (Phulbani), Kendu festival was known for 'human sacrifice' or 'Meria' in their language. The ritual was, however, banned during the British Rule. The 'human sacrificing' was replaced with 'buffalo sacrificing'.

Chaita Parva

Not only by the tribal people of Koraput, but Chaita Parva is also celebrated by the Bhuiyan tribe of Mayurbhanj, Sudargarh, and Keonjhar. Festivities continue for a whole month. Men go out hunting, bring back animals and meat is distributed among all villages. Animal sacrificing is done. People sing, drink and dance wholeheartedly.

Maghe Parab

This is an important harvest festival. Maghe Parab festival is the most significant festival of tribes including Ho, Oraon, Kisan, and Kol. The tribal festival is celebrated to pay tribute to the village deity. As part of the ritual, a black fowl is sacrificed and 'mahua' liquor is offered to the deity. People wear new dresses, drink, sing and dance together.


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