Category Archives: Roots of india

Roots of India is all about 29 States of India’s Ethnic culture, language, clothing style, known heritage, dance & music.

A Sneak Peek Into The Orissa Ethnic Culture

The Oriyas are the dominant ethnic group in the Indian eastern state of Orissa. The historical and cultural traditions that they share; dates back to more than 6th century BC. They are the people mentioned in the ancient Sanskrit texts. The rich history of the state cannot be overlooked. The location and hilly nature of the state helped many kingdoms to thrive. Today, 75% of the population are Oriyas and the remaining 25% belong to different tribal groups. As far as the food habits are concerned, they eat rice at every meal. Thin rice pancakes form a specialty of Orissa. A typical meal will comprise of rice, lentils, vegetable curry along with optional fish or goat meat. Food plays an important role in any Oriya ritual. The people are known for their hospitality.


The Culture Of Clothing:

The clothing style reflects a lot about the ethnic culture of Orissa. Men wear dhoti, which is a rectangular piece of unstitched cloth. It is wrapped around the waist and in between the legs before tying a knot. Apart from that, loose fitting kurta-paijamas are also worn by men today. Kurtas are now also worn with jeans by the young generation. The local towel in Orissa is gamucha, which is a short piece of cloth. In general, it is saffron in colour, but today other colour and pattern options are also available. These are very useful and widely acceptable.

Women & Men wear - Orrisa
Women & Men wear in Orrisa (Source :

The traditional hand woven sari in Orissa is known as Sambalpuri. The piece of cloth is tie-dyed before weaving. Apart from Sambhalpuri, another popular saree is Kataki saree. This saree is also hand spun with a mixture of cotton and silk. Sometimes, tussar is also used in weaving these sarees. Among the tribes, the dressing pattern is slightly different. Men wear loin clothes and women wear lengthy clothes to wrap around themselves. Some women also wear scarves on the head. A filigree work in silver along with fine tribal works in metals and brass are found in these garments.


Reflecting The Cultural Heritage:

As mentioned, Orissa is a state with rich history and cultural tradition. This is clearly evident from the Chronicles of Jagannath at Puri.

Puri Jagannath Temple
Puri Jagannath Temple

Even Oriya literature has a rich tradition. Not to forget, Orissa is renowned for its dance, music and architecture. The classical dance of Orissa is known as Odissi and it originated as a temple dance for gods. The other dance forms include Chhau, puppet plays, shadow plays, folk opera etc.

Orissa Dance
Classical dance of Orissa

Handicrafts And Painting:

The major handicrafts of the state include brass work, applique, stone carving and silver filigree. Some other forms include Papier Mache, Lacquer, wood and traditional stone carving and not to forget handlooms. Painting of icons is also a popular culture in this rich state. In fact, the history of painting dates back to the ancient times with rock shelter paintings. Pata painting is an important form of Oriya painting that originated in the Jagannath Temple of Puri. Structural art is also popular here, and is evident in the Jagannath Temple. The stone utensils, the handlooms and textiles and the Pattachitras along with brass and aluminium ornaments are a part of the couture of the state. In Orissa, the sand art is a unique style of art and this form is developed in the sandy beaches of Puri.