Ekamra Walks: Unplugging History

Cities represent mini civilizations. If civilizations are part of the evolutionary chronicles of human settlements, cities in the miniature format represent a broad canvas, on which the civilization and its cultural effects are painted in the form of historical structures, monuments and the other remains of these vestiges, which, ultimately gives the prototype signature to…

Dola Jatra – The other Rath Yatra

When world was water, you became a tireless vessel of the Vedas. You, in Pisces form, Keshava: conqueror of the world, Hari!   When this heavy earth you carried on your callused tortoise back, how venerable you were, Keshava: conqueror of the world, Hari!   A blemish on the hare-marked moon, the earth became as…

Mangalajodi– Where Ashoka is Born and Dies Every Other Day

Emperor Ashoka, 268 – 223 BCE, popularly known as Ashoka the Great became a Buddhist after witnessing firsthand the large number of casualties during Kalinga War. It was a turning point in human history. One among the many measures the emperor took was  promulgating and execution of world’s first animal right laws. Through his edicts…

Tarakasi Art – On The Brink of Survival

If Bhubaneswar is known as the City of Temples then its twin Cuttack, renowned for its varied cultural practices, historical aspects and craftsmanship is celebrated as the Silver City. Cuttack is the anglicized form of Katak that translates to ‘Fort’ which here is the Barabati Fort, the erstwhile capital of Odisha. Cuttack city which is…

Chhau: A Folk Performance of Eastern India

Indian theatrical tradition goes back to antiquity and is deeply rooted within local culture and consciousness. Therefore, it has its own uniqueness and structure that is truly eastern in its orientation.  The theatrical traditions of India are divided into  Loka dharmi (the popular), the folk, which includes Nautanki of Punjab and Swang of Himachal Pradesh…

Raghurajpur – An Open Air Museum

Can anyone ever think of ‘Odisha’ without thinking of Lord Jagannath. No way!! Rhythms of Odiya life deeply revolve around scores of rituals related to Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra and Devi Subadhra throughout the year. The trinity that resides in Puri celebrates festivals as any of us do. In the month of June, when the…

Pashupata Cult and the Ancient Temples of Bhubaneshwar

During 1980s, I visited Bhubaneswar regularly and as a child one thing that always fascinated me were its numerous Shiva temples. Richly adorned with sculptures of Hindu divinities, mythical beasts, foliage and ordinary men and women, the child in me wondered why there were so many temples dedicated to a single deity? As I grew…

South Chilika Coast – Back in Time

It was a sultry September night of 1996 and I was camping in a government dak bungalow in a small town, Huma in Odisha’s Ganjam District. I, along with my mentor Prof K.K. Basa, was surveying the southern coast of Chilika Lake in a village called Gaurangapatna. That night, a ceramic piece depicting a boat…

Sacred Tanks of Ekamra Kshetra

According to ancient scriptures, deities reside near a clean water body. A temple therefore should be built, where there is a pond on the left, or in the front, not otherwise. In Vedic Period, a water body was compared to a cow, the symbol of wealth, fertility and prosperity. It was believed that water goddesses…

Buddhist Weavers of Maniabandha – A Confluence of Ideas

One of India’s greatest gifts to the world of ideas is Buddhism, a religion that was propounded by Gautama Buddha in the middle of 1st millennium BCE, on the principles of compassion and detachment. Odisha, lying on the east coast of India had been a major centre of Buddhism right from the time of Buddha….

Ranigumpha – Rock-cut Romance

From Mughal-E-Azam to Bajirao Mastani, most of Bollywood’s period movies are romantic sagas replete with tales of unbridled passion and supreme sacrifice. Indian history, especially oral history, is a rich repository of such tales vivid in their description and varied in their situations and contexts. If there is one thread that is common to all…