The Chaitra Parba or Chhau Festival is the major festival of the tribal people of Koraput. It commences from 10th/11th April every year and continues for three days concluding on ‘Mahavishuva Sankranti Day’ at Baripada. It is also observed by the Bhuiyan trihbal of Mayurbhanj, Sudargarh and Keonjhar.
The festival of Chaitra Parba is known as Bija Pandu among the Koya tribals. 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 God. The tribes worship, ‘Gudimata’, the Mother Earth and also the earth whom they call Bhumu. During the festival they worship the Gods with liquor and sacrifice an animal or bird. The Bijapandu 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 days 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.
Horse dances called Chaiti Ghoda Nach is organized. Wooden horses mounted by man dance to the tune of Dhola and Mahuri accompanied by songs composed by local poets. The dancing party consists of two dancers, one male and one female, a drummer and a piper. People from across the world visit Orissa en masse just to enjoy this festival and see the tribal festivities in full glory.
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