Fare and Festivals
Festivals are reflective of socio-anthropological evolution of life style, community dances are connected in certain worship/functions, colourful folk dances, and folk songs to the accompaniment of folk musical instruments are used on many occasions. Ritual performances like Nuakhai, Karamasani, Puo Jintua, Rakshi Bandhal, Janmastami, Dasahara, Deepabali and Puspuni are observed as common festival in a pellucid manner in Deogarh district each occasion having impact on the life and living and faith and belief of the people.
Among other festivals, Car Festival of Lord Jagannath at Purunagarh, Chandan Yatra at Kalla, Shiva Ratri at Jhadeswar Temple, Thakurani Yatra of Basaloi, Laxmi Puja at Kandhal, Durga Puja at Ballam, Kali Puja at Barkote, Makar Yatra, Gayatri Jagna and Geeta Jagna are celebrated at Deogarh and other locations. Rambhadebi Yatra at Basudevpur, Dola Purnima at Tainsar, Ratha Yatra at Barkote are some religio-cultural events observed transcending all caste and ethnic barriers reflecting harmonious community living.
The Paudi Bhuyans celebrate and worship nature “king” and “queen” on several occasions near brooks, fountains and hill streams in spring, rainy and winter seasons. Such occasions amidst merrymaking, young boys (dhangda) and girls (dhangdi) of marriageable age choose their life partners with the explicit sanction and consent of the elders. It is a treat to watch the intelligent repartee and quick wit of both the young boys and girls expressed through songs and riddles bringing forth their imaginative and creative talent to woo their prospective bride or groom. Local brew like “handia” and other condiments flow free during such festivities. Their body language speaks of their simplicity in the nature’s hub of life style. In ancient centres song with dances are accomplished with their eternal enjoyments Dalkhai and other forms of Sambalpuri folk dances like Humo and songs like Rasharkeli, Sajani and Maylajada too are very popular forms of folk performance in this district.
Some other performances considered more urban are the Ramaleela, Pala and Dash Kathia which are performed occasionally by both local and invited troupes from other parts of Odisha. These performances are largely based on puranic tales and are normally in Odia with quotes from classical and medieval Odia literature and even Sanskrit text. There was a Ramaleela Party in Barapali Sahi of Deogarh town known for its commendable colourful performance during of Rama Navami at Gopalji Temple premises.
Deogarh originally being a land of multiple tribes has many tribal deities though they have no designated temples for them. At some places some semblance of a crude shrine like structure may there; but at most of the places some totem-like poles or rock pillars represent the deities. Mahabhairabi, Rambhadebi and Jangha Linga , Bada Deo are such tribal deities of the tribes of Deogarh. Mahabhairabi is the supreme deity of the Kandhas, the primitive inhabitants of Deogarh. Similarly Rambhadebi is the clan goddess of the Bhuyan. Rambhadebi is considered as the younger sister of Mahabahirabi. This is the theological reason for the Kandha-Bhuyan brotherhood. Jangha Linga and Bada Deo are the gods of the Gonds. They claim JanghaLinga and Bada Deo as the early form of Lord Jagannath and Balabhadra. Bisri Puja is the most popular among Paudi Bhuyans. Goddess Samaleswari of village Bhatsingh is a mysterious one being a statue of a couple unlike that of Sambalpur. One of its accompanying and auxiliary deities like Pitabali resembles a Budhhist statute. Maa Hingula of Jarachhat village is being worshiped like that of Talcher. Maa Sannipat of erstwhile Naikul is the supreme deity of the Paikas or militia of the former Bamanda state. During the later part of Budhhist period the Tantric Cult was in vogue. The impact of such tantric cult is still observed in many rituals. Then the Somavanshi rajas had suzerainty over this region and as result of it there are many Shaiva pithas in this district. The Shiva Temples of Banakalo, Jhadeswar and Pradhanpat were built in later period by the Ganga rulers. Tribes like Munda, Oram, Ho and Santhals worship their own clan or community gods. Further, each village has it Gramashiri, the guardian angel of the village. In some places Giri Puja (worship to the hills) are done also, indicating the people‟s affinity to nature and dependence on forest.
There are many festivals centring on agriculture, various occupations, children etc. Akshi Truitya, Kadobali Puja, Muthi Anukul, Nuakhai are festivals relating to several stages of agricultural operations and farming practices like initiating tilling of soil, sowing of paddy, beushana, harvesting, etc. Paddy being the staple crop is symbolic of the Mahalakshmi, the goddess of wealth. In the month of Margasira (December-January) generally, paddy ripens for harvesting and on each Thursday of the month, pooja being celebrated which is common practice all over Odisha among the Hindus irrespective of caste i.e, Mahalakshmi puja in each household. Deogarh is no exception to this common tradition. The village craftsman worship lord Biswakarma. The trading castes like Thuria observe Boita bandana. Prathamastami, Satya pir (pala) puja for the good fortune of the young, particularly children of a family or community. Raksha Bandhan is being observed among higher caste Hindus migrated from other parts of the state and country which has got assimilated with the larger society of Deogarh.
Makara Sankranti is a tribal festival celebrated with great fervour among the Santhals, as Tusu parva is now got into the cultural calendar of other tribes too and has turned into one of the major festivals of the district. In Gahma Purnima, Chhad khai, Pousa Purnima, etc sharing of sweetmeat and meat at community level is a common practice. Observance of Anla Nabami is confined to Deogarh town. Among other prominent festivals are Ratha Yatra, Chandan Yatra, Holi, Dola, Pana Sankranti, Dashahara, etc. The girls observe Khudurukuni and Pousa Rabibara Osha. Recently the ladies have started Mahamayee Pooja in each Sahi/pada/village.
The Christians observe Good Friday, Easter Sunday and above all Christmas popularly known as Badadina Parba. The Muslims celebrate Ramjan, Id-ul- Fitr, and Id-ud-Zoha with feast and pageantry and observe Muharrum mournfully. Even though the Sikhs are very few in number, they celebrate Baishakhi and Guru Parav on the occasion of Guru Nanak‟s birth anniversary on the full moon day of the Hindu month of Kartik (November-December of the Gregorian calendar).