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ORISSA is not only an ideal choice for momuments, beaches, waterfalls and scenic beauties but also for here colourful fairs and festivals

The festivals are as numerous as the days in a year, each with a difference having an individuality of its own culminating in the grand Car Festival of Puri.

Through this chapter, we present some of the major Fairs & Festivals of Orissa and you are welcomes to enjoy them.

MAKARMELA (January) : Makar Sankranti is celebrated with gusto in mid-January when the Sun enters the orbit of capricon. Sun God is worshipped with great fervour and enthusiasm by one and all. The festival can be best enjoyed at Kalijai (an island in Chilika), Atri, Ghatgaon, Keonjhar, Jashipur and Jagatsinghpur.

MEGHA MELA ( January – February) : The most popular and colourful festival of Konark, an occasion for a grand congregating of Indian pilgrims and enthusiasts from abroad, falls on the 7th day of the bright half of ‘Magha’. The Indian pilgrims talk only dips in the Chandrabhaga Tirtha near the sea and wecome the rising Sun with prayers.

Also a grand fair is held at Khandagiri near Bhubaneswar on the same day which continues for about a week.

MAHA SHIVARATRI (February-March) : The festival "Shiva’s Great Night" falls on the 14th day of the dark half of Phalgun and is observed by devotees all over the country. Devotees keep fast and perform puja throughout the night and keep a vigil to witness the sacred lamp on the temple top.

The festival can be best enjoyed at mahendragiri, Gupteswar, Kapilas, Puri, Bhubaneswar and Khiching.

TARATARINI MELA (March-April): The ‘Taratarini Mela’ one of Orissa’s beggest fairs, talks place on each Tuesdays of the month of ‘Chaitra’ i.e. from around mid-March to mid-April at Taratarini Pitha –30 km from Berhampur. A grand congregation takes place on the 3rd Tuesday.

ASHOKASTAMI (April): The Car Festival of Lord Lingaraj at Bhubaneswar, Ashokastami is held in the bright half of ‘Chaitra’. The protégé of Lord Lingaraj is taken in a chariot from the main temple to Rameswar Temple and return after a four-day stay.

CHAITRA PARBA (April) : The ‘Chaitra Parba’ or ‘Chhau Festival’ commences from 10th/11th April every year and continues for three days concluding on ‘Mahavishuva Sankranti Day’ at Baripada. This is a festival of festivals which is enjoyed by the people of the country and the enthusiasts from abroad.

SITALASASTHI (May-June) : The celebration of marriage ceremony of Lord Shiva with Parvati starts with the untying of the wedding knot of the divine couple. Devotees act as their parents to perform the marriage. The bridegroom’s procession popularly known as ‘Barat’ starts from the 5th night of the bright half of Jyestha and the marriage is performed in the traditional manner.

The festival is celebrated at Sambalpur and Bhubaneswar in gorgeous ways.

RATHA YATRA ( June-July) : Ratha Yatra, ‘Known as Car Festival’ is the grandest of all festivals in Orissa. It is the sacred journey of Lord Jagannath with brother Balabhadra and sister Subhadra from the main Jagannath Temple to another shrine called ‘Gundicha Mandir’ for nine days. It begins from the 2nd day of the bright half of "Asadha" which falls in June-July every year. Thousands and thousands of devotees from all over India and abroad throng on that day at Puri to Pull the sacred Chariots.

DURGA PUJA (September-October) : Durga Puja symbolises the commemoration of good over evil. Life comes to a stand-still in the city of Cuttack as crowds pour over the Puja Mandaps to enjoy the festivities. On the day succeeding ‘Vijaya Dasami’, the last day of Dussera, the images are taken in a spectacular procession for immersion in the river Kathajodi.

LAKSHMI PUJA (September-October) : Observed with much pomp and ceremony in Dhenkanal town, it commences from the fullmoon day of Aswin and continues for a period f one week.

BEACHFESTIVAL (November5-9) : Puri, the abode of Lord Jagannath, is a wounderful beach resort for leisure tourists. It is known for its thirteen major festivals of Lord Jagannath celebrated every year. But the new Tourist festival known as ‘Puri Beach Festival’ hald from 5th-9th November each year has come to limelight in recent times.

BALIYATRA (November-December) : To commemorate the glorious past of commercial voyages to the islands of Bali, Java and Sumatra by Orissan Trader, a big fair called ‘Bali Yatra’ is held on Mahanadi river bank at Cuttack on the fullmoon day of Kartik.

KONARK FESTIVAL (December 1-5) : A festival of classical dance forms performed by the celebrated danseurs of the country on the Open Air Auditorium set amidst the casuarina grove against the back drop of Sun Temple, a World Heritage Monument. During the festival evenings the atmosphere is surcharged with rhythmic dancing beats and melodious tunes.

DHANU YATRA ( December-January) : Dhanu Yatra relating to the episode of Lord Krishna’s visit to Mathura to witness the ceremony of "Bow" is colourfully observed at Bargarh. The town of Bargarh becomes Mathura, the river Jira becomes Yamuna and the village Amapalli on the other bank of the river becomes Gopa. Different acts of the Puranic descriptions are performed at their right places and the spectators move from place to place with the actions to see the performance.

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