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Religion of Odisha


Odisha is known for its respect and mutual tolerance towards other religions. One can vividly witness how religion in Odisha has evolved from animism, nature worship, shamanism, ancestor worship & fethism to the highly evolved forms of religion like Hinduism, Islam, Christianism, Buddhism and Jainism. The tribal religion of Sarana can also be found here. Within the Hindu community also, there is a great diversity. It includes a number of castes like Brahmins, Karans, Khandayats or Kshatriyas and the functional castes like cultivators, carpenters, weavers, blacksmiths, braziers, goldsmiths, confectioners, milkmen, oilmen, potters, barbers, washer-men etc. 

Odisha is home to several Hindu figures. Sant Bhima Bhoi was a leader of the Mahima sect movement. Sarala Das, an adivasi, was the translator of the epic Mahabharata in Oriya. Chaitanya Das was a Buddhistic-Vaishnava and writer of the Nirguna Mahatmya. Jayadeva was the author of the Gita Govinda.

The Odisha Temple Authorisation Act of 1948 empowered the Government of Odisha to have Hindu temples open for all Hindus including the Harijans.

The majority over 94% (Second state in India after Bihar) of people in the state of Odisha are Hindu and there is also a rich cultural heritage in the state. Among the states of India, Odisha has the second highest concentration of the Hindus, although all other religions have their followers in it. Christians in Odisha account for about 2.4% of the population while Odia Muslims account for 2.1% as per census figures of 2011. The Sikh, Buddhist and Jain communities together account for 0.1% of the population. The most commendable thing about Odisha is that, there is unity in diversity. People belonging to different religions and castes live harmoniously and there is a feeling of brotherhood among them.

The synthesis & harmony of the different forms of Brahminic worship Vaishnavite, Shaivite, Shakta, Ganapatya are all to be found in the great and grand temple of Jagannath or whose origin goes back to the tribal worship of Wood God. Around him, resolves the entire cultural milieu of Odisha. Religion & culture cannot be separated in a land, which claims to celebrate thirteen festivals in twelve month.

The religious Diaspora of Odisha is renowned throughout the Indian subcontinent. The entire state is peppered with innumerable temples and pilgrimage sites. One of the biggest tourist destinations of Odisha is the temple town of Puri that hugs the coast of Bay of Bengal. The religious town houses several temples and shrines, the most famous being the celebrated Jagannath Temple. The spiritually inclined people also celebrate a host of religious festivals of through the year. In fact, the grand ceremonies of the Ratha Yatra, the Chandan Yatra and the Snana Yatra is famed all across the globe. 

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