Cuttack; the ‘Silver City’ of India is reckoned on the global front for its elaborate silver & ivory filigree work (Tarakasi), its unique horn, brass, lacquer and stone work and its exquisitely woven Cuttacki or Katki Saris and other cotton, silk and tie & die textiles. Aggrandized as the Cultural Capital of Orissa, the Cuttack City demonstrates an impeccable amalgamation of tradition & culture, old & new and conventional & contemporary. The denizens of Cuttack recognize themselves as the ‘Katakis’ and no matter whether they stay in Cuttack or any part of the planet, they would firmly hold on to their ideologies and principles.
The Katakis believe in fraternity and universal brotherhood and they would never encourage any communist or racist conflicts based on religious, social or cultural differences. People following all religious faiths have been dwelling in perfect peace and harmony in Cuttack for several hundred years. Apart from a number of preeminent Hindu temples, the Cuttack city also serves as a home to multitudinous ancient monuments and prehistoric edifices belonging to other religious convictions. For example the Qadam-E-Rasool Mosque, Gurdwara Daatan Sahib, the Church of Epiphany, Digambar Jain Temple, etc comprise some of the most esteemed destinations of the Cuttack City.
Cuttack is most distinguished for its Durga Puja and Dussehra Festival; however, other religious festivals including Holi, Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Kite Flying, Ganesh Chaturthi, Rath Yatra, etc are also celebrated here with unparalleled pageantry and enthusiasm. Some of the exclusive festivals for which Cuttack is renowned far and wide are; Dussehra, Durga & Kali Puja, Bali Yatra, Kartikeshwar Puja, Sharadiya Utsav, and so on.
Dussehra: The nine days long Navaratri Festival culminates with the celebration of the Dussehra Festival when thousands of idols of Goddess Durga are installed in different pandals all over the city and the Mother Goddess is worshipped with utmost devotion and faith on a very grand scale. Cuttack hosts the second largest Durga Puja celebration in the whole country and the city receives a great influx of devotees and tourists particularly on the occasion of Dussehra. The Dussehra celebration of the Cuttack City is especially famous for its silver and gold Medhas wherein the idols of Goddess Durga are laden with an appreciable amount of dazzling gold and silver ornaments. The Durga Puja Pandals even compete amongst themselves for the Pandal Decorations as well as for beautifying the idol in the most magnificent manner. The entire Cuttack city basks in the zest and finery of the festivity predominantly on the Ashtami, Navami and Dashami Day. The effigies of Ravan are burnt on the Dussehra Day and the festival concludes with the Visarjan of the Goddess Durga idols.
Kali Puja: As soon as the Durga Puja winds up, Cuttack starts gearing up for the Kali Puja. The Kali Puja is celebrated on the auspicious occasion of Diwali when Goddess Kali is offered special worships on the banks of the river Mahanadi and the victory of good over evil is commemorated. The Gadgadia Ghat of Cuttack brimming with the bursting firecrackers comes alive with the hustle bustle of people who worship the Goddess Kali with tremendous fervor and unsurpassed grandeur.
Bali Yatra: The Bali Yatra (Bali Jatra), also known as ‘Boita Bandana Utsab’ or the ‘Festival of Boats’ is celebrated in the month of November. Honored to be the second largest trade festival of Asia, the Bali Jatra commemorates the day when ancient Oriya mariners (Sadhabas) used to set off to Bali, Java, Sumatra, Borneo and Sri Lanka for trade in their large sea vessels known as ‘Boitas’. This seven days long festival commences on the Kartik Purnima Day and a large fair is held in the vicinity of the Barabati Fort. Innumerable stalls are set up at the time of Bali Jatra where exotic craft items, traditional Oriya delicacies, curios, souvenirs, other decorative and gift items, toys, etc are sold. Millions of people from near and far alight at Cuttack and enjoy at the Bali Yatra Fair. Kids float toy boats in the Mahanadi River or other smaller water bodies in the honor of the ancient Sadhabas. These toy boats made of colorful paper, dried banana tree barks, cork, etc and illuminated with small oil lamps are generally set afloat in the river after dark when thousands of small twinkling lights create an absolutely flabbergasting sight. A traditional song ‘Aa ka ma bai, pan gua khai….’ which narrates the importance of the four months vital for maritime merchants is sung at the time of the Bali Jatra.