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Culture of Cuttack

Since Cuttack was first ruled by the Keshari dynasty followed by the Mughals, the Marathas and the British, it is a melting pot of various cultural influences. It is home to a number of significant Hindu religious shrines like the Katak Chandi Temple as well as a prominent Gurdwara and a Jama Masjid. The culture of Cuttack is predominantly similar to that of other old cities in the state of Odisha.

Culture of Cuttack

Festivals Celebrated in Cuttack

The people of Cuttack celebrate a number of festivals, with Bali Yatra being the most popular and grandest. Bali Yatra, a trade fair is reported the second largest in Asia. There was a time when the merchants of Cuttack traded with South East Asian traders. The name Bali Yatra is derived from the island of ‘Bali’ which used to be a hotspot for merchants from Odisha. Merchants from Cuttack went to South East Asian cities to sell their goods and on their return brought back merchandise from those cities. On their return they put up stalls to sell the goods acquired from those foreign lands. Buyers from all over the state poured into Cuttack to make purchases at the Bali Yatra. Bali Yatra takes place every November on the banks of the Mahanadi.

Kartikeshwar Puja is another very popular festival of Cuttack. Nowadays, several public and private committees are responsible for organizing these pujas. Other than Sabrimala temple in Kerala, no other city in India witnesses Kartikeshwar puja with such fanfare. 

Dusshera or the festival of worshipping goddess Durga, the goddess of power, is also a major festival in Cuttack. In Cuttack, Dusshera is well known for the Chaandi Sona Medhaas. During this, the idols of Durga are decorated with huge amounts of silver and gold jewelry. Each locality tries to outshine the other in the amount of gold they are able to adorn their idols with. During Dusshera the city practically comes to a halt with streets flooded with people eager to witness the burning of the effigies of Ravana. During Ashtami and Navami – the days previous to Dusshera, people throng the streets looking at idols of Durga put up in various localities.

Kali puja is also celebrated in Cuttack a few days after Dusshera. Kali puja and Diwali are usually celebrated on the same day or a day apart from each other. The Gagdagia ghat on the Mahanadi River witnesses generous burning of firecrackers.

Other prominent festivals of Cuttack include Rath Yatra, Makar Sankranti, Ganesh Chaturthi, Basant Panchami, Id, Holi, Christmas, Good Friday.

Art work of Cuttack

Cuttack is the weavers’ hub in Odisha. The traditional weaves known as Ikat and Bomkai are globally popular fabrics. The Cuttack textile has found renewed interest among the fashionistas of the country with designers like Anita Dongre popularizing the abstract designs of the Ikat weave. The appliqué handicraft items manufactured in Pipli are also popular among the buyers in Cuttack.

Tarakasi, an art form consisting of silver filigree work is a unique craft of found in Cuttack. History of Tarakasi dates back to 500 years. According to historians, the Tarakasi art travelled to Cuttack from Indonesia through its traders. The Tarakasi craft uses 90% pure silver and is used to craft jewelry, show pieces and accessories. The Odissi dancers wear Tarakasi jewelry during performances.

Language, Dance and Music of Cuttack

Oriya and English are the official languages of Cuttack. The people of Cuttack mostly converse in Oriya. However, the IT boom has brought in professionals from around the country to Cuttack and other cities in Odisha. Which is why, English, Hindi and Bengali are also commonly heard in the streets of Cuttack.

Odissi is the most popular dance form practiced in Cuttack. There are several schools and dance academies run by prestigious dancers located in Cuttack. Noted dancers like Ramani Ranjan Jena, Meera Das, Mrinalini Padhi have set up dance academies in Cuttack.

The music popularly practiced in Cuttack is quite cosmopolitan in nature. Songs from Oriya movies, Carnatic classical music, tribal songs are popular. The Cuttack Mahotsav – International Dance and Music Festival is organized every year in January since 2010.

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