Explore crafts and culture of Odisha at Khandagiri & Udaygiri Mahotsav

Bhubaneswar: The twin hills in Odisha capital is all lighted up and adorned as a bride for the four-day Khandagiri & Udaygiri Mahotsav, a bid to promote tourism and allure visitors to the Jain rock-cut shelters with intricate engravings.

Amid all the hullabaloo is 45-year-old Amari Dei engrossed in spinning yarns on a charkha on the lawn of Tourism Interpretation centre at Khandagiri, where the festival is being held. She has been into this business for last 20 years.

“It feels special to show a demo here. We, a group of 50 women, prepare threads for khadi cloth materials in Sanapadara village of Khordha, which is again woven in the traditional weaving machine. I earn about Rs 300-400 a day. Since my children are both earning well, I am content with what I am doing,” she said.

Also on display are terracotta items and clay pots with potters showing a live demo of their work. Sculptors too can be seen sculpting stones into beautiful statues showcasing the age-old craft of Odisha, whose evidences are the relics at Khandagiri-Udaygiri hills.

Unfolding various aspects of art and culture in Odisha, the mahotsav kicked off last evening with folk dance performances, the rhythms of which had everyone swaying. “We performed Jodi Sankha and Ranapa combined. Jodi Sankha is performed by dancers while blowing the conch. Two most common instruments, changu-baja and mahuri (wind instrument) is used to produce music. Ranapa is a dance on stilts. It is said that Lord Krishna’s mother would tie stilts to his legs when he took cows out for grazing so that he wouldn’t get hurt. This is where the tradition began. We want to take Jodi Sankha and Ranapa dance forms a step ahead and for that matter, our troupe has been performing and promoting this art form,” said Sunil Kumar Sahu, one of the Ranapa performers from Ganjam’s Narendrapur.

Besides food outlets, self-help groups from different districts of Odisha have put up food, handicrafts and handloom stalls. Abstract paintings, paintings on Mahatma Gandhi, and pictures of the temples in Odisha are also being exhibited. “I am quite intrigued by paintings. I absolutely love them,” expressed Rakesh, an art lover who visited the mahotsav.

Sketching portraits of the viewers, the artists sat all composed in a corner crowded with people waiting for their chance. The evening concluded with some mesmerizing songs by Indian Idol Junior 2 winner, Ananya Sritam Nanda. She performed popular Bollywood and Ollywood numbers while the entire crowd cheered for her.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik inaugurated the mahotsav, which replaced one of the oldest events, Kharavela Mahotsav. The event will conclude on January 28 and see some more dance and music performances by artists from Odisha.

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