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Culture of Keonjhar

The people of the district observe a number of festivals all the year round. These festivals are broadly divided into two categories viz. domestic festivals and public festivals.

Ratha Yatra  like the Puri Rath Jatra, the Gundicha jatra takes place on Asadha Sukla Duitiya i.e. 2nd day of the bright fortnight of the month of Asadha (June-July) . The three deities are brought from the main temple and placed in the wooden chariot ( RATHA ). After due ceremony, the chariot is dragged by thousands of devotees to the Sri Gundicha mandira where the deities stay for a week. The return car festival or Bahuda jatra is performed on Asadha Sukla Dasami i.e.the tenth day of the bright fortnight.This festival is celebrated in Keonjhar,Anandapur and Champua. More than 50 thousand people gather in Old town of Keonjhar to witness Ratha Jatra. The height of the Baladev Jew temple is 135 ft or 41.15 meters and the height of the Ratha is 60 feet.


karma Puja is celebrated mostly by the Adivasis in Keonjhar and Champua Sub-divisions. The festival commences on a Thursday in the month of Margasira (November-December) and is celebrated for eight days. The festival culminates with offerings to the presiding deity, while the preceding seven days are spent in preparation. On the first day, two unmarried young boys collect new pulses like green gram, black gram, mustard, gingely, horse gram etc., about a handful for each household and keep the collected pulses on the bank of a stream in a bamboo basket. These two young men cook their food themselves and eat it untouched by others till the end of the festival. Every day they sprinkle water on these pulses after taking bath in the stream. On the eight day, they plant two branches of Karama tree in front of the Mandaghar (dormitory). The grains, which have by now germinated, are brought and placed beside the branches of the karama tree. The youngsters of the village then dance around the karma twigs. Next day two fowls are sacrified there and the baskets containing grains alongwith the branches are carried in a procession to a nearby river or Nala and are immersed there.


Juang Dance  is performed to the accompaniment of tambourines. Earlier they used to dance dressed in primitive leaf which is no more in practice. Men sing as the girls dance being accompanied by deep sounding tambourines. In one form the girls move around in a single file keeping the right hand on the right shoulder of the girl in front. The Juangs also have what are called the bear dance and the pigeon dance.

Chhau Dance  generally performed during the Chaitra Parab festival in the month of Chaitra. It is a dance with a strong folk character; almost like a dance drama. This dance originated in Mayurbhanj district of Orissa and Sareikela district of Bihar. In this dance footwork and body movement of the dancers are most artistic and virile. Facial expressions are generally absent.


Sohrai is celebrated in the month of October-November .The Munda cattle owners fast for the whole day. In the night, lamps are lighted. On the following morning the cattle-shed is washed and sprinkled with rice-beer. The cattle are fed in plenty.


Sarhul  is a tribal festival of flowers.In the month of March-April sal flowers are brought to the sarna or sacred grove. The priest (pahan) propitiates all gods of the Mundas. The celebration goes on for several days.