The most important festival of the tribal people of Koraput is Chaitra Parva.It is also observed by the Bhuiyans of Mayurbhanj, Sudargarh and Keonjhar. Bhuiyans are an ancient Hinduised tribe who greatly influenced the culture of the other tribes. They are also found in Seraikela and Kharswan regions of the district of Singbhoom in Bihar, where the festival is observed with great enthusiasm.
For the whole month of Chaitra the tribal people remain in festive mood. They wear new clothes, sacrifice animals and birds before their gods, feast drink, sing and dance. During the daytime women, young and old, keep on singing and dancing. The men go out hunting in the jungle. They bring whatever animal comes to their sight. They do not spare a jackal even, whatever kill they bring, the meat is distributed among all the villagers. The nights are spent in drinking, singing and dancing.
The Bondas of Koraput are an interesting primitive tribe. They live on hilltops and lead a secluded life. Their interaction with other tribes is very rare. Among many festivals of the year, the most important festival for them is known as Sume-Gelirak. All the year young men and women look forward to the festival as it gives them ample freedom in all respects.
The festival starts on a Sunday and continue for ten days. During the first few days, they worship their traditional Gods and demons as well. The Sisa or the tribal priest does the rituals of sacrificing animals and birds and propitiating the deities with liquor. Then amusement through dancing and singing begins with full vigor. Young men and women make dancing expeditions to neighboring villages and during the dance choose their life partners. However, the most serious and dramatic part of the festival is castigation. It begins first with little boys.
Some one takes up the drum and beats it loudly and others join with him. The boys stand in pairs, front to front, and strike each other as hard as they can with pliant branches of a tree stripped off its foliage. When they had enough of it, they salute each other and embrace, and another pair takes their place. When all the boys of the village complete this piquant exercise, the Sisa gives them cakes to stop all quarrels and delivers a little lecture of friendship and good behavior. The following evening this castigation is repeated with young men and even the old. They bow each other with folded hands and start dancing to the frantic beats of the drums and then hitting hard with the branches. Blood flows from their wounds and watching the situation the Sisa stops them. Then they touch each other’s feet and embrace hugging and lifting the other in the air.
The festival of Chaitra parva is known as Bija Pandu among the tribal people known as Koya who are concentrated in the Malkangiri sub-division of the district of Koraput.The Koya villages are situated on patches of clearings in the midst of dense forests. In each village there happens to be a Bijigudi or house of Cod. The tribes worship, ‘Gudimata’, the Mother Earth and also the earth whom they call Bhumu. During the festival they worship the Godlings with liquor and sacrifice an animal or bird.
The Bija Pandu is the sacred seed from which the festival takes it name. During the festival, the men go out hunting and fishing in groups and return home before dark. During the daytime, the women keep on singing and dancing, waiting for their men to come. In the evenings, they unite, feast, drink and dance together. The Koyas have special variety of dance for the festival. Men wear huge headgears of bison-horns, which are richly decorated with peacock feathers and cowries. The drums are cylindrical and unusually long. Women wear brass-caps and hold sticks fitted with tinkling bells, which they strike during the dance in between the beats. They dance in circles singing songs of love.
Kedu is the most important festival of the Kondhs of Phulbani, where they are largely concentrated. They are also found in certain areas of the districts of Ganjam and Koraput.The festival is held in different villages in different years. The place and date of the festival are decided years ahead. This festival was well-known for the human sacrifice ‘Meria’ which was totally stopped during the British rule in India. However to guard the religious sentiments of the tribals this has been substituted now by buffalo-sacrifice. This festival continues for five days and different rituals are prescribed for each day. The sacrifices are made on the third and the fourth days in a most cruel manner.
The animal is tethered in the place of worship. Men and women get drunk, dance in frantic mood and then kill the animal by cutting its limbs piece by piece. Then they carry the blood and a piece of meat and bury it in the field where they produce turmeric. They believe that this would yield them a good crop of turmeric as red as the blood of the animal. Through this festival, they propitiate Mother Earth.
The most important festival of the Ho, Oraon, Kisan and Kol tribes is known as Magha Parab, which is a harvest festival. The festival is observed in honor of the village deity (Mother Goddess) who bestows them with good fortune and protects them from calamities. The festival is observed in different villages on different dates of the month. The ritual comprises a sacrifice of a black fowl before the deity and offering of Mahua liquor.
During the festival, all of them wear new clothes. Drinking, singing and dancing together are the common activities of celebrating the festival. The tribes observe ‘Damurai Parab’ in the summer and ‘Horo Parab’ during the rains.