Sambalpuri culture

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Sambalpur in western Orissa, India, has a distinct culture and identity in terms of language, dance, songs and clothing.

Sambalpur Lok Mahotsav[1]

A cultural manifestation of the hidden age-old traditional performing art of a this geographical area is possible through this annual celebration of the festival in the name of” Lok Mahotsav”. This festival is a reflection of the socio- anthropological evolution of the people of this area. Here “Lok” means “People” only.

Sambalpur Lok Mahostav

Sitalsasthi Carnival[2][3]

Main article: Sitalsasthi Carnival

The marriage of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati has been celebrated as Sitalsasthi for hundreds of years now in Sambalpur.



This is the most important social festival of Sambalpur. Generally it takes place during the months of August and September. Preliminary preparation for the festival starts 15 days before. The first grains of the paddy crop are cooked into various dishes and offered to the deities. Then the eldest member of the family distributes new rice to the junior members of the family. Every house is completely cleaned. People around the community meet and greet each other. It is a community festival generally celebrated by both rich and poor Hindu families.[4]


Makar Sankranti is celebrated on 14th of January every year. In Western Orissa, it is celebrated little bit differently. People perform various puja and rituals in temples and across rivers and present the God with "Prasad" like "Till ka laddoo" which comprises till, sugarcane, good, people here believe impressing the God and Goddess will wash away all the bad things ("paap") that they might have done knowingly or unknowingly. Also, Makar Sankranti symbolizes the beautiful bond between friends. On this auspicious day best friends perform some sort of ritual("puja") under the presence of God and Goddess and seek their blessings. Once the ritual is done they are supposed to address their friend as "Makra" which means beloved friend/best friend. There is a belief here, that if you recognize your friendship on this day, it will last forever till death takes you apart.[5]


It is mostly known only in the region of Western Orissa. Bhai-juntia festival is celebrated on the Mahastami Day of Durga Puja. It is a ritual fasting undertaken by women for the whole day and night to seek Goddess Durga's blessing for the long life of their brothers.[5]


This is also a ritual fasting puja of similar austerity for women of the area. The Puo-juntia festival is observed by mothers to invoke the grace of Lord Dutibahana for the long life and prosperity of their sons.[5]

Besides the above listed festivals, other religious festivals are observed. These include Shiva Ratri, Dola Jatra, Durga Puja,[5] Janmastami,[6] Dipavali, Ganesh Puja,[6] and Saraswati Puja.

Shiva Ratri mela at Huma attracts a large numbers of devotees. Ratha Yatra is held at almost all central places of Sambalpur. On the occasion of Makara Jatra, a fair is held at Themra in Sambalpur.

The most popular festivals celebrated by Muslims are Id-Ul-Fitre, Id-Ul-Juha and Muharram. The Sikhs also celebrate the birth day of Guru Nanak.


The folk instruments which are in vogue in Sambalpur region are Dhole, Madal, Nishan, Tasa, Pakhoj, Bansi, Bir-Kahali, Gini, Ektara, Muhuri, Ghulgula, Ghunguru, Jhanj etc.. They are widely used in temples during 'aarti'.

Dhole: It is an age old instrument of Indian folk music. The 'dhole' of Sambalpur is slightly different in its making and use. It is made from the trunk of a tree. Both the side of the 'dhole' are of same size. Sambalpur 'dhole' can be used for any type of Sambalpuri folk song.

Madal: The Sambalpuri 'madal' is different from that of all other parts of India. The 'madal' is made out of fired clay and is like a cylinder. Madal is a drum which is used in slower rhythms. Most of the danceless songs are accomplished with the Madal.

Nishan: It is made out of iron sheets. The sound emitted by the 'nishan' is heart throbbing. This is mostly used in worship of Kali or Durga and in the battle field.

Tasha:It is played by two thin bamboo sticks. The sound of 'tasha' creates an atmosphere of horror, fear and excitement.


Most of the community dances are connected with a function or the worship of a deity. Colourful folk dances are enjoyed by the people.

Dalkhai Dance Dalkhai is a ritual folk dance. Songs sung on this occasion are known as Dalkhai songs. Young girls of Binjhals, Soura and Mirdha tribes perform this dance during Dusserah, Bhaijuntia and other festive occasions. However, non tribal people also participate in this ritual dance and songs without hesitation which is an indicator of the tribal and non tribal interaction in Kosal. The young girls stand in a line or in a semicircular pattern while dancing (Pasayat, 1998, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009).

Karma Dance

Karma is the most colourful dance of the district. It is mainly a tribal dance in honour of “Karam Sani”, the deity who grants children, as they believe. Non-tribal people also participate in this ritual dance and songs. In the beginning the dancers enter the dancing arena in two rows. The dramers and the singers accompany with rhythmic steps.

Humo and Bauli

These are two playful dances performed generally by young and unmarried girls on special occasions who sing and dance in groups. The stepping and movements of the dance are very slow. However, the old and aged women of the villages also play the guiding role during performance of this songs (Pasayat, 2008).

Koisabadi Dance

This dance is prevalent among the Gond and the Bhuyan tribes. Male dancers take part, holding a two feet long stick. The songs are mainly based on the immortal love story of Radha and Krishna.

Eminent personalities[edit]

A list of people who have contributed in the growth of Sambalpuri culture and language are given below.

  • Veer Surendra Sai[7][8]
  • Gangadhar Meher[9][10]
  • Bhima Bhoi[11]
  • Chandra Sekhar Behera ( 1873–1936):Chandra Sekhar Behera[12] of Sambalpur was a leading freedom fighter and an active participant in the Non-Cooperation Movement. He consolidated the National freedom movement in Sambalpur region and merged his activities with the Indian National Congress. He was a founding member of the National School of Sambalpur started on lines of Satyabadi Vana-Vidyalaya founded by Gopabandhu Das. As the chairman of Sambalpur Municipality, he received Gandhijee in Sambalpur in 1928. Organised a mass movement against illiteracy and untouchability.He was instrumental in the activities of Utkal Sammilani in formation of the separate statehood for Orissa. Chandra Sekhar breathed his last on 23 January 1936.
  • Satya Narayana Bohidar:[13][14] Known as the pioneer of Sambalpuri language and grammar, Satya Narayan Bohidar[14] was born on 1 August 1913 at Sonepur. His formative and creative years were spent in Sambalpur that produced a good no. of literary translations and biographies. Fighting against all odds, Sri Bohidar was successful in preparing the dictionary and grammar specially in Sambalpuri Language which provided a significant identity to it. Satya Narayan Bohidar died on 31 December 1980, leaving a great legacy behind him to influence the future generations.
  • Jadunath Supakar:[14] Born on 10 February 1931 in an artisan’s family of Sambalpur town, Padmashree Jadunath Supakar[14] was educated from National Arts School of Shantiniketan. Starting as an artist of portraits, Jadunath earned his name as a great master of handicraft who continued his undying effort for popularity of forgotten traditional weaving. Working for national handloom Board, Jadunath tied his hand in Serriculture. His designs were highly appreciated in London, Paris, New York City and he was engaged in weavers service center, established for the cause of artisans development. Jadunath was also known for his mastery in playing musical instruments.
  • Isaac Santra:[15] Known for his service and benevolence par excellence, Isaac Santra[14] was born in 1892 at Sambalpur. Being a Christian, he was persuaded by his family to join a missionary at Bolangir but his interest was different. He graduated as a doctor from Cuttack and decided to dedicate himself in Leprosy Eradication Mission. He established a Lepor home at Hatibari, a village surrounded by dense forests and spent his time in serving the patients. Highly admired by the patients, academic circles in abroad, even by Mahatma Gandhi during later's visit to Sambalpur for his humanitarianism and philanthropy, Isaac Santra was honoured by Govt. of India with “Padmashree” award. He also edited a magazine “Prabhatee”, propounding human values and qualities. He died on 29 August 1968.
  • Laxmi Narayan Mishra:[16] Eminent freedom fighter, known for his selfless and sincere service to the motherland, Laxmi Narayan Mishra[14] was born in 1906 and had left school as a student to join India’s freedom movement. He was imprisoned for seventeen years for his active role in the national struggle for Independence. Jail provided him advantage to be a scholar and Laxmi Narayan had become a real Pandit with his education on religion, culture and political thought. He was an expert in the languages like Sanskrit, Urdu, Bengali, Telugu, Hindi, English and had earned a fame as an extraordinary orator. He was assassinated during a train journey at Jharsuguda.
  • Radhashyam Meher.[17] Born on 20-11-1909 at Sambalpur. Died 19-5-1961. He invented the first handloom to weave textiles of ninety inches width. The Sambalpuri Sari is his creativity. He nurtured, tutuored and guided the weaving community to improve their skills . He is known as the father of Sambalpuri -Textiles who herald the era of Baandha Art. He participated in the freedom struggle and jailed during the Quit India movement. He strove, to remove 'un-touchability' and maintain communal harmony amongst all classes and religion. Only his selflessness has consigned him to Oblivion.Ref Samaj dt 19-11-2009; Sambalpuri- Textiles ISBN no- 978-81-906822-0-6.
  • Lakshminath Bezbaroa[18][19][20] A prominent Assamese littérateur.
  • General Sundararajan Padmanabhan He became the 20th Chief of Army Staff of the Indian Army in September 2000. He was born at Trivandrum in the Indian state of Kerala on the 5th of December, 1940 and spent his childhood at Samblapur.[21]
  • Aparajita Mohanty She is a notable Oriya film actress.


  1. ^ [1] Archived August 20, 2010, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ The Famous Sital Sasthi Yatra. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  3. ^ : Welcome to Sitalsasthi Yatra, Sambalpur :. (2009-05-25). Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  4. ^ About the Festival of Nuakhai –The Ethnic Harvesting Festival of Orissa state in India. Genesis, history and socio cultural heritage behind Nuakhai or Nabanna by Oriya people. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  5. ^ a b c d As part of Digital Marketing Management:Coursera- by Manisha Dash Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "ReferenceC" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  6. ^ a b Jyoshnarani Behera (1 January 1998). Political socialization of women: a study of teenager girls. Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-81-85495-21-7. Retrieved 20 January 2011. 
  7. ^ Veer Surendra Sai: The Immortal Lion Of Orissa « Orissa Matters. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Welcome to the website of Swabhaba Kabi Gangadhar Meher. (1964-02-29). Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  10. ^ The Life and Works of Swabhabakabi Gangadhar Meher. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  11. ^ About Saint Poet Bhima Bhoi. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  12. ^ Sekhar Behera. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  13. ^ Satyanarayan Bohidar « Kosal Discussion and Development Forum. (2010-01-01). Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  14. ^ a b c d e f Eminent Personalities Of Sambalpur District. (1924-04-04). Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  15. ^ Hatibari Health Home. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  16. ^ Home. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  17. ^ Sambalpuri Textiles By Bikram Kumar ISBN no 978-81-906822-0-6
  18. ^ The Assam Tribune Online. Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  19. ^ "'Bezbaruah Kuthi' to be restored". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 19 July 2010. 
  20. ^ Telegraph – Calcutta (Kolkata) | Northeast | Life for poet’s Orissa home. (2010-07-16). Retrieved on 2011-01-20.
  21. ^ has reduced by over 50 per cent: General Padmanabhan. (2002-11-08). Retrieved on 2011-01-20.