Ancient Orissa was a confluence of racial streams. History tells us that the Aryans entered Orissa from the north-east, subjugated the primitive people living there and imposed on them their language and culture. The story could not be so simple; for the people then living in the land were not perhaps all of the primitive type, nor were they subjugated culturally. What might have happened in all! Probability was a racial and cultural amalgamation.
Geographically Orissa stands as a coastal corridor between the northern and southern India cut off by the intractable Vindhyas. It is natural therefore that an assimilation of the races and cultures of the Aryans and the Dravidians must have taken place.
Orissa, which is largely rural, the traditional values are still kept alive. In general the values have no doubt weakened but they are not lost. Among die innocent Advisees dwelling in the wooded hinterland and forested hill slopes, Indias earliest civilization is retained in its pristine form. Not only in their secluded hamlets, bet also in the countless thousands of villages in the country sides one can catch a glimpse of the dwindling horizon of humanity, through the innocent and benign outlook of tile villagers. A sensitive person who happens to be a prisoner of the modern society with its stress and strain will not, while in a typical village, fail to mark the relationship of its common people with God, nature and their fellow men.The people of Odisha are endowed with rich culture and high tradition .Here the Jagannath cult, the Vaishnav cult and Buddhism and Sivayat cult have successfully co-existed .
Odia one of oldest languages in the country is the predominant language spoken in the state and its outlying tracts.Odia is the official language of the state and 84 percent of the people speak in Odia.Besides Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and Telugu are widely understood and sometimes spoken. English is spoken by the educated few. There are also a number of tribal languages by the tribal people of the state.
Religion and Caste
Among the eastern states of India, Odisha has the highest concentration of the Hindus forms 94.35 percent of the total population; the Muslims Christians, Buddhists, Sikhs,Jains and others forming 2.07, 2.44, 0.027, 0.047, 0.025 and 0.983 percent respectively.Odisha is a land of religious tolerance and the people following different religions and faith live harmoniously, often within the same village .Usually a large number of casts reside in a Hindu village ,such as Brahmins,Karans,Khandayats or Kshatriyas and the functional like cultivators, carpenters,weavers,blacksmiths,braziers, goldsmiths, milkmen, oilmen, potters, barbers, washer men etc.
People in Odisha whether rural or urban, live in families. Those who have to stay away from family at their places of work in towns or industrial areas usually monogamous among all the sects When a Youngman or a women is of marriageable age ,it is usually the duty the duty of the parents to arrange for the marriage .The Muslims and the Christians follow their own traditional customs .Inter-cast marriages are taking places in recent times ,but are limited in number .Certain moral code and ethics are commonly accepted in the Odishan society in respect of social conduct. Drinking is considered a vice and as such shameful in the households of villages. For the tribal people, however it is not a vice. Beef is a taboo to the Hindus as pork to the Muslims.
Food and Dress
As would be expected in a State whose fields shimmer with a hundred different shades of green, Orissa produces a great variety of vegetables, most of which are put to excellent use in the local cuisine. Orissa fish, crabs and prawns are famous and you will have ample opportunity to enjoy them in whatever style you choose. There is also a good variety of other fresh sea food. Preparation of Oriya dishes is simple and economic.
One should have a savoury mouth to enjoy the varieties of food items that Orissa offers.A traditional Oriya meal, generally spicy, consists of Rice, Dal, vegetable curry, vegetable fry, leaf vegetable, khata (sour dish), chutney, pickle etc. There is also a plate of salad with onion, cucumber, tamato, jinger, lemon or curd. On ceremonial occasions, the number and variety of items increase.
There is also a widely prevalent practice of taking cooked rice soaked in water overnight called Pakhal as an alternative to a warm rice meal .Some people like to take roti or chapati for dinner . The people use both sun-dried and pan-boiled rice ,the former especially on festive occasions.The people of Orissa are neither strictly non-vegetarians nor essentially vegetarians except some orthodox families. Non-vegetarian items are generally not preferred on religious occasions.
Sweets of Orissa include milk preparations like Rasagolla, Rasmalai, Chhenapoda, Khirmohan, Rajbhog, Rabidi, Rasabali, Chhena
Jhili,Jilebi, Kalakand etc. Khiri is another dish prepared from rice, suji or semia for festive occasions.One of the typical dish of Orissa is Dalma which is a mix of dal and vegetables. When this is served with rice, many of the items are deleted from the menu.
Another special preparation of the state is the food offered to the gods in the temples which are not only strictly vegetarian but also without onion and garlic. Even some of the vegetables like potato, tomato etc also not allowed.In the Sri Jagannath temple at Puri, the food offered to the lord is called Mahaprasad,cooked by unique steaming process in earthen pots, kept on above the other. There is an elaborate menu for different occasions. After offering the food to the lord, it made available for sale in the Anand Bazar, the food market, in the premises of the temple. The kitchen of the temple is the largest in the world where about four hundred Supakars(cooks) work on two hundred hearths to feed about ten thousand mouths every day. Such arrangement is also available in temples like Lingaraj & Anantavasudev at Bhubaneswar and many other places.
Hotels and restaurants can serve typical Oriya dishes on order while there are also some speciality restaurants. However, a traditional meal in traditional style can be best experienced in an Oriya home.
The traditional dress Dhoti and Kurta are widely used by the rural people .People of urban areas like to use pant and shirt. Most of the women wear Saree.The College going girls like to wear shalwar and kameej.Boys wear shorts and shirts and girls wear vest and frocks. The informal dress of most people is Lungi and Gamuchha.