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A look into the cultural prism that is Odisha

India – the land of the many and the varied – has always had the world enthralled with its charm. It does no less for us who are part of it, as we discover something novel every time we look at cultures beyond our own. We at Median Research and Consulting, have been associated with the people of Odisha through our consumer surveys over the years. In trying to tap into the essence of the Odia mind, we had conducted an in-depth analysis – The Mood of Odisha – among other studies. These allowed us to have a peek into the Odia mindscape and gather some interesting insights.

The Odia come across as a people deeply rooted in their cultural consciousness. They set much store by following traditions that have been handed down to them, as much in food and dressing habits as in their general outlook and moral values. Hence, they would find comfort in the sweltering heat of the summers in Pakhala Bhata, just like their grandparents would in their days. On a sudden visit to an Odia household, one would often be pampered with the famous Chhena Poda and Anna Rasabali. Women would swear by their Sambhalpuri, Kotki, Bichitrapuri and Bomkai on occasions of note, while men would reveal their stock of traditional Dhoti-s.

Mythology – in the form of religious rituals and worship – bind the Odia together. While Ratha Yatra is perhaps the defining festival of Odisha for outsiders, it is only one of many for the people of the state. Prathamashtami, Raja Parba, Durga Puja, Makar Sankranti, Chandan Yatra, Bali Yatra, Kalinga Mahotsav and many such festivals define the spirit of the state to its people, reinforcing their pride in their culture.

Odia Pattachitra for Ratha Yatra Festival

Our study, however, shows an interesting trend in the people that has evolved since the pandemic times in the last few years. The Odia women, who found themselves more functional and comfortable in the duties of their hearth and home, began to form aspirations of venturing out for personal and business needs. Bound by the constraints of finance and mobility of the times, they strived to stand tall beside the male bread-earners of the family and look after ailing kin away from home, all on their own. They started small businesses, learnt to ride and drive, and emerged stronger than ever as people who could shape both home and beyond with the power of resolve.

But they are certainly not about all work and no play. The Odia people believe strongly in nurturing their mind with generous doses of entertainment. Odissi, Chhau, Gotipua and Dalkhai dance forms are some of the cultural pillars of not only the state but also the country. In daily terms, the people bank heavily on TV entertainment that span the genres of daily serials, reality shows, news and knowledge, sports and increasingly, OTT series.

Overall, the flavours of Odisha are bountiful, lending the feeling that the more one explores the more one would want to carry on.

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