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Holi Festival in Odisha

Holi is a popular festival of Orissa. It is the full-moon day in the month of Falguna (March). Through the festival the spring is welcomed and enjoyed with mirth and merriment. This festival has been referred to in the puranical texts as Basantotsaba or the spring-festival.

It starts from the tenth day of the bright fortnight of the month of Falguna (Feb-March) known as Fagu ‘Dasami’. Smearing the heads with Abira (a violet coloured powder) the people take round the idols of Madanamohana in richly decorated palanquins known as Veemana. The procession is led by village drummers, pipers and the Sankirtana Mandalis. The procession halts in front of each household and the deity is offered Bhog. The daily rounds of the deity for the four days is called Chachery. On the final day of the purnima the celebration culminates in a swing-festival for the deities.

In the evening, milkmen, ‘gwalas’ carry the palanquin on their shoulders, for Krishna belonged to their clan. Games such as Dandi Khela are also played to mark the occasion. A special tent called ‘jhoolan mandap’ is erected to place the idol of Lord Jagannath at night. The following morning abeer is applied of the idol of the lord. Thereafter, people relish the special delicacies of the occasion such as pethas, laddoos made of puffed rice and sesame seed and play with colours. Towards evening, idols are given a dip in a pond and taken back to temple.
holi in odisha
Here too, Holika is burnt in the evening as a symbol pf victory of good over evil. Later, married women carefully sweep away the ashes of the bonfire, to mark the spot with drawings made out of a paste of powdered sun dried rice and water.

There is much fun and merriment in the festival. In some places the burning of the straw hut is known as Mendhapodi or the burning of a ram. A legend attached to it says that a demon known as Mesha was causing terror in the Heaven and Earth, Gods as well as human beings prayed Krishna to rescue them from his atrocities. Krishna killed and burnt him to ashes. It is, therefore to reminiscent this event that a hut is burnt which represents the abode of the demon. In many places of the State big fairs are arranged where idols of the deity are assembled. These fairs are called ‘Melana’. The Veemanas of the surrounding villages are placed in a row for public view. Keen competition is observed in the decoration of the veemanas. When all the expected veemanas reach the place, display of fire-works takes place and this is watched by thousands of enthusiastic crowd. In the fairs agricultural implements, commodities, household articles and furniture are bought and sold. Such Melanas or Fairs continue till the month of Chaitra in different places of the district of Cuttack, Puri and Ganjam.

Holi 2013 Date in Orissa – March 28

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