February 26, 2015

Sankirtan Mahotsav in Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Sankirtan Mahotsav was recently held in Bhanja Kala Mandap, Bhubaneswar from 21-22 February 2015. 30 groups had been called- one representing each district of the eastern state of Odisha in India.

'Sankirtan' means singing devotional songs for Lord Krishna, in the company of good people. Mainly inspired by Vaishnavite Saint Shri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu since 16th Century AD, in Odisha, this rich tradition continues and Bhakti songs are sung in praise of Lord Jagannath - Lord of the Universe.
In fact, Sankirtan is a very integral part of Jagannath Culture, and has been done since centuries together. Bhakti Movement gained momentum only later, nevertheless playing a stellar role in making Sankirtan popular as a pure way to realise God.

At Sankirtan Mahotsav, Bhubaneswar

Sankirtan in Odisha is accompanied by its local musical instruments like dholak (drum), daskathi (two thick block type sticks which are hit with smooth movement of fingers to produce loud clicking sounds), narrow trumpet, manjira, jhanja, cymbals and instruments looking like smaller versions of Lord Hanuman's Gadaa producing the chhik-chhik sound when shaken.

One group used narrow trumpet- a rarity!

Also I found many forms in which Sankirtan was presented by different groups:
  • Standing
  • Sitting
  • Dancing
  • Talking
  • Combination of above
Mostly there was the dholak player with the main singer standing/dancing in the centre while others sat and repeated in chorus. Towards end of the performance all stood and sang and danced at a higher pace, in a frenzy, transcending themselves and the world!

All groups presented mind-blowing performances. I present below only two super-energetic glimpses out of the 30 performances, which broke stereotypes and thus were completely outstanding:

Cuttack District, Odisha:

Catch the tremendous, infectious energy of the Swapneswar Sankirtan Mandali from Cuttack district, Odisha led by Sri Chintamani Das. What I found remarkable was the young kids performing! Another small kid at back is fully engrossed with overflowing energy as the group coordinatedly does Sankirtan on stage. They shout, jump, dance, sing...Cute and awe-inspiring at the same time! So, Sankirtan has no age-barriers...all-inclusive art for those who have Bhakti for the Lord!

Deogarh district, Odisha:

Catch the tremendous, infectious energy of the Parvati Das and group from Deogarh district, Odisha. I was glad and proud to see that this was the only group led by a woman (on 21 February) and she made it as enthusiastic as possible! Just mind-blowing! See how the Sankirtaniyas play the cymbals at high speed in unison. So, I also found that Sankirtan is a gender-neutral art...again open for every such person who has full devotion for the Lord!

This was really an evening to remember, when Hari Naam was taken in devotion throughout. I thank the organisers and talented, young and old Sankirtan artists for making this evening so wonderful. May this art always continue....Jay Jagannath!


  1. Lovely that you attended this event and got to experience the soulful tunes, songs & music.
    I like your observations about the way the Sankirtans were presented. Styles (sitting, standing etc & content of Sankiratans) vary as per the groups and the districts.
    Great that Odisha Tourism is conducting such events. Much needed to raise awareness about glorious heritage.
    Great pics & videos, Amrita!

    1. Thanks a lot Anita! :) Yes the styles are unique & I loved each of them! People barely know abt our rich heritage & sadly, neither do they seem interested. Yet efforts must continue to save and indeed make our excellent arts fluorish! Thanks for encouragement!

  2. Oh great to know about the coverage of Sankirtan Mahotsav across Odisha


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


24/7 Odisha Saree Shopping! Order online!