This One state in India has shaped the Entire Maritime History of South East Asia

Kalinga Bali
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Introduction: Impact of Indian society on cultural history of Suvarnabhumi “modern day South East Asia” 1 2 3

One of the unique aspects of India’s Cultural Heritage is that we have persevered our traditions and customs through our evolution since ages without a break to the present day. The unbroken thread of our ancient civilization and its preservation has also startled scholars from far and wide. We Indians have always felt a sense of pride in our rich cultural heritage but somewhere in our march towards adopting the glittering aspects of Western ethos we have somewhat lost touch with the actual glory of our past and do not give due regards to the cultural identity, historical continuity and significance to many of our long standing cultural traditions and the lasting impressions they left on faraway lands.

The Early Historical Period saw India forge transoceanic trade relations with Thailand, Malaysia and islands of Java and Bali (Indonesia). Suvarnabhumi and Suvarnadvipa has many references in our ancient Indian literature and scriptures which refers to present day “South East Asia” and “Indonesia”, respectively

Chanakya’s Arthasashtra also has references on how Ashoka of Mauryan dynasty had set proselytizing missions to Ceylon (modern day SriLanka) as well South East Asia. The Mahaniddesa work also has detailed references on hazards of voyages to foreign known-unknown lands including Suvarnabhumi. Some ancient scriptures also suggest that an important role was played by Brahmanas (invited by local rulers) in spreading Indian Cultural Heritage in Suvarnabhumi. These seafarers, merchants and traders who went on oceanic voyages were pioneers in spreading Indian Cultural Heritage in Suvarnabhumi

While we will mostly touch on the aspect of how political voyages from Kalinga, merchants and traders of Kalinga were influential in spreading Indian Culture in Suvarnabhumi. This article will focus on the cultural interactions and try to regain the lost glory from the prism of rich ancient Maritime Trade of Kalinga (ancient Odisha). Maritime activities of Kalinga forms one of the interesting facets of Indian History. B’coz of these trade activities cultural heritage, customs, beliefs, language, ideas, scriptures, Sanatana Dharma’s finer aspects of Kalinga got popularized and accepted in those habitations in other countries where settlements were established by Kalinga’s merchants, traders and political voyagers

Kalinga’s Role in South East Asia 4

Kalinga was instrumental in shaping the history and culture of South East Asia especially in the Malayo-Indonesian World. As per some of the scholars of history, Kaundinya (founder of the kingdom of Funan) was either from Kalinga or Vidarbha or Krishna Valley. The Kaundinya and the Kalingans were settled in the upper part of Malay Peninsula. The Kaundinya’s were associated with the Funan and Borne royal dynasties. The Kalingan’s were mostly settled in Malaya and Java whereas Indians from lower Krishna valley (the Cholas, the Pandyas, the Malayalese, and Kannadiga’s) were settled in Sumatra

Kalinga Bali

Kalinga or Ancient Odisha

Many of the Chinese scriptures and texts speak of K’-un-Lun people, K’-un-Lun scripts, K’-un-Lun merchants and traders. K’un-Lun can also be pronounced as Ku-lung. Ku-lung was used by Chinese scriptures to designate an ethno-linguistic entity. Indonesian linguistics permits changing ‘u’ to ‘i’ or ‘e’, so K’un-Lun / Ku-lung is also referred as Keling. Keling i.e. Kalinga has been referred in many Indonesian scriptures in the most glorious periods of Indo-Southeast Asian Cultural Countries

Also the historical records of Sui Dynasty (581-618 A.D.) and other Chinese texts mention about king’s courts of that time period had several hundred Brahmins sitting in rows facing each other on both sides. Presence of so many Brahmins in inhabitations dominated by Kalingans also hints that the script referred by Chinese as K’un-Lun must have been scripts of KalingansMany of the Chinese scriptures and texts speak of K’-un-Lun people, K’-un-Lun scripts, K’-un-Lun merchants and traders. K’un-Lun can also be pronounced as Ku-lung. Ku-lung was used by Chinese scriptures to designate an ethno-linguistic entity. Indonesian linguistics permits changing ‘u’ to ‘i’ or ‘e’, so K’un-Lun / Ku-lung is also referred as Keling. Keling i.e. Kalinga has been referred in many Indonesian scriptures in the most glorious periods of Indo-Southeast Asian Cultural Countries

“Chinese scriptures mention of Kaundinya I (founder of Funan Kingdom) during 1st century A.D. or beginning of 2nd century A.D. As per ancient Malaya scriptures, Lang-ya-hsiu kingdom was also founded during this time. The coincidence of dates for the foundation of Funan and Lang-ya-hsui may not be quite accidental. It is quite possible that Kalingan adventurers sailed from the international port of Palura, whose origin has to be traced, in the early decades of the 1st century A.D. for settlement in those far-off places. The contemporary political and military convulsions due to struggle between the Satavahanas and the Kshatrapas, in which both Vidarbha and Kalinga were involved, might have provided the incentive to emigrate to foreign countries. As the sea-route at this time was coastal, I suppose the Vidarbha and Kalingan adventurers broke journey somewhere in the northern half of the Malaya Peninsula and while Kaundinya ventured further for Funan, the Kalingans stayed on to found new principalities” H. B. Sarkar, in the book titled “Kalinga – Indonesian Cultural Relations” published in 2007 by Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies, Dept. of Culture, Govt. of Orissa

Apart from this people of Kalinga also played a greater role in Java as compared to other regions of South East Asia from 8th century A.D. onwards. The Aryamanjusrimulakalpa (composed in Sanskrit between 700-800 A.D.) refers to some regions of South East Asia in verses 636-649. The verses are “unrasandhisu” (the confluence of the seas) and “ambhodheh kuksitiranta” (in the bays of the seas of their coasts). In verses 884-894, the author has given direction about the worship of Tara in the east, southern India and the islands of the sea. The author refers modern Java seas as Kalinga seas and it can be implied that he refers the most important part of Java as Kalinga

In Old-Javanese epigraphy Kling i.e. Kalinga appears in the inscription from 840 A.D. During the reign of King Airlangga (1019-42 A.D.), scriptures has mention about the countries/kingdoms from where traders used to come their kingdom like “Kling, Aryya, Singhala, Pandikira, Dravida, Campa, Kmir, Rmen…” Kling refers to Kalinga and Aryya refers to lower Krishna Valley. Also, in some inscriptions of East Java reference of King Girindra Vardhana as Bharat Kling i.e. King of Kalinga and his queen Kamalavarnadevi as queen of Kalingapura

Kalinga’s maritime relations with SriLanka5

Kalinga, the prosperous kingdom of East Coast of India was an active center of trade, commerce and culture as per Ceylonese Chronicles “Mahavamsa”, “Dathavamsa”, “Chulavamsa”, etc. Kalinga had close maritime contacts with ancient Sinhala (modern day SriLanka) since 5th Century BCE. The Ceylonese Chronicles “Mahavamsa”, “Dipavamsha”, “Dathavamsa”, “Chulavamsa” mentions of travelers like Fa-Hien, Hiuen Tsang, the discovery of coins of Ceylon from Kalinga and various inscriptions and art specimens of that era. Traders of Kalingans travelled maximum to the Ceylon as compared to voyagers from Indian sub-continent

Kalinga Bali

Sea route used by Kalinga in Ancient Days

The famous Lanka of the Ramayana has generally been identified by scholars6 as Sinhala / Ceylon or modem Sri Lanka. The island of Sri Lanka has a continuous record of settled and civilized life for over two millennia. It is believed that the major ethnicity settled and religions followed has been adopted from the Indian subcontinent. Sinhala’s two major ethnic group’s i. e. The Sinhalese and the Tamils, and two dominant religions, Buddhism and Hinduism made their way from India7

As per earliest recorded scriptures of Sinhalese tradition (the Mahavamsha8), prince Vijaya and his 700 followers were the first immigrants who reached from India. Vijaya and his followers founded the Sinhalese dynasty. As per the Mahavamsha, prince Vijaya, son of king Sinhabahu of Sinhapura, went to Ceylon and became the first king of the island. It is recorded that Vijaya’s great-grandmother Susima was a Kalingan princess and had married the king of Vanga (Bengal). Her daughter was carried away by a lion when wandering in Lala on the road from Vanga to Magadha and the lion begot her a son whose name was Sinhabahu, the father of Vijaya. Sinhabahu, consequently slaying his Sinha (lion) father became the king at Sinhapura. Sinhapura was a historical city of Kalinga from pre-Christian centuries till the period of Ganga kings. The early Ganga kings issued some of their copperplate grants from Sinhapura9

Kalinga Bali

Scene of Vijay’s landing in Ceylon, Paintings of Ajanta Cave

As per, ancient traditions it is believed that Sinhabahu of Sinhapura banished his son Vijaya and his 700 companions for their misconduct, and set them afloat on a ship. After a long voyage, Vijaya with his companions landed near the present site of Puttalam on the north-west coast of Sinhala and set the business of colonizing the island. The scene of Vijaya’s landing in Ceylon can be seen in the paintings of Ajanta cave as shown here. This has been considered as the beginning of the story of man in Sri Lanka7. As per to Mahavamsha”, prince Vijaya landed in Sri Lanka in the region called Tambapanni on the day that Tathagata (Lord Buddha) lay down between the two twin-like sala-trees to pass into nibbana (niruana). The newly conquered island was called Sinhala or Sinhala Dvipa after the name of Sinhabahu10and Sinhapura, the father of Vijaya and the capital of Vijaya’s father, respectively

The association of Sinhala with Kalinga was so deeprooted that later Ceylonese rulers mentioned themselves as descendants of Kalinga ChakravartiVamsha11. King Nissanka Malla of Ceylon says in his inscription12 that he was the son of Sri Jaya Gopa of Kalinga Chakravartin dynasty, then ruling at Sinhapura, who were descended from the race of king Vijaya

The matrimonial relations between the royal dynasties of the two kingdoms played an important role in Kalinga-Sri Lanka contact during the historical period. Matrimonial relations led to direct political developments. The Sinhalese king Mahendra IV Srisangabodhi, who ruled over Sinhala from c. 953 CE to c. 969 CE, had a Kalingan princess as his queen whose son succeeded him on the throne13. The relatives of this Kalingan princess emerged as a strong force in the Sinhalese court politics

The Ceylonese chronicle Chulavamsha14 states that king Vijayabahu I of Ceylon (c. 1054CE to c. 1109 CE) married Trilokasundari, princess of the royal family of Kalinga. Vijayabahu I’s marriage with a princess of Kalinga seems to have been dictated bypolitical considerations15. He was a contemporary of Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva of the Ganga dynasty, whose period has been considered as the golden age in the history of Kalinga. Trilokasundari was the mother of Vikramabahu who played a prominent, though difficult role in the Sinhalese politics

The son of Vikramabahu and Sundaramahadevi was Gajabahu II (c. 1137 CE to c. 1153CE) who, according to the Mahauamsha, is said to have been a scion of the Kalinga royal family. However, GajabahuII had no son of his own and is said to have invited Kalinga princess of Ganga dynasty (finds mention in Mahauamsha)16. However, GajabahuII was defeated and overpowered by his envious cousin Parakramabahu (Parakramabahu I). He was the grandson of Trilokasundari and ruled over Sinhala from c. 1153 CE to c. 1186 CE)17

Next important ruler was Nissanka Malla of the Ganga dynasty of Kalinga. He ruled from c. 1187 CE to c. 1196 CE. Nissanka Malla, in his inscription, has styled himself as Kirtinissanka and was the first historical monarch of Sinhala belonging to a pure Kalinga dynasty. His era has been referred as Golden Era of Ceylon, with records of activity and constructive achievements in administration, economic rehabilitation, religion and culture. The inscriptions of Polonnaruvacontain vivid accounts of his achievements. NissankaMalla was a great builder. The RankotVihara at Polonnaruva, the cave temple of Dambulla, the Tooth Relic Temple, the NissankalataMandapaya, and even the Nissankeswara temple at Rameswara (in India) were some ofthe evidences to his constructive genius. However, of all the architectural monumentsattributed to the reign of NissankaMalla, the most unforgettable was the collection of temples and viharas in the so-called Great Quadrangle, which has been described as themost beautiful and satisfying proportioned buildings in the entire Indian subcontinent18

After NissankaMalla, there was little political instability and seeing this as an opportunity, Parakrama Pandya, an invader from the Pandya kingdom of India, captured the throne in c. 1211 CE17. After abrief interval, Ceylon was once again passed into the hands of another Kalingan prince named Magha. Prince Magha led his expedition towards Ceylon with about 2400 soldiers in c. 1214 CE and successfully established his rule over Sinhala. Magha ruled over Sinhala for 21 years (c. 1214 CE to c. 1235 CE) and as a very strongman, gave Sinhala a better government. Infighting among the Kalinga people led to decline of their influence over Sinhala after Magha

Kalinga Bali

Wall Painting at Kelaniya Temple of princess Hemamala and her husband prince Danta Kumar. It is portrayed that Hemamala is crying Gautam Buddha’s tooth relic hidden in her hair to Sri Lanka

Besides political relations, religious and cultural interaction between the two kingdoms was brisk. In the history of Sinhalese Buddhism, Kalinga had a major role to play. According to the Sinhalese tradition, Buddhism first reached Sinhala by a mission sent out under the Mahinda (Mahendra) by Mauryan Emporer Ashoka during the rule of Sinhalese king Devanampiya Tissa19

King Tissa granted the royal park mahamagha as a residence and it’s said that with the beginning of mahavihara, Buddhism started in Sri Lanka. The prathama stupa (first stupa) was also built on the soil of Sinhala with the entry of Mahendra into the capital. Withina short time of Mahendra’s mission, Buddhism emerged as one of the established religions of that land. The Samantapasadika20reveals that Emperor Ashoka had sent a sapling ofthe Bodhi Tree in the custody of his daughter Sanghamitra

Eight families from Kalinga were sent to Sinhala to set up the Theravada, school of Buddhism in the island. The Buddhist text Dathauamsha21 describes in detail the event of the dispatch of the sacred tooth relic of Buddha from Dantapura in Kalinga to Sinhala during the rule of Sri Lankan king Shri Meghavama (c. 304 CE to c. 352 CE). The tooth relic of Buddha was brought to kalinga after his parinibbana (pariniruana) by a Buddhist saint named Khemathera and was given to the Kalingan king Brahmadatta who built astupa at Dantapura (identified with modern Palur in the Ganjam district of Odisha) to preserve the relic. Centuries late Guhasiva, the then king of Kalinga faced difficulty in protecting the relic from being attacked by the kings of other religions and decided to send the same to the Sinhalese king through the safe hands of his daughter Hemamala and son-in-law, Dantakumar (a prince of Ujjain) (as shown in above image). The sacred tooth relic was received with great honour by the Sinhalese king and since then, it continues to be considered as the most sacred national treasure of Ceylon and is still worshipped at Kandy (images of the temple as shown below)

Kalinga Bali

Front View of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa) at Kandy, Sri Lanka

Kalinga Bali

Inner View of the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic (Sri Dalada Maligawa) at Kandy, Sri Lanka

The relic, since ancient times, is playing an important role in the local politics because it is believed that whoever holds the relic, holds the governance of the country. However, an interesting aspect can’t be overlooked i.e. the shifting f the tooth relic from Kalinga to Sri Lanka indicates the fact that Kalinga was then having an efficient and well-managed naval power otherwise king Guhasiva could not have trusted or thought to send the most precious tooth-relic of lord buddha via sea route to Ceylon in the hands of his daughter and son-in-law

The Kalinga-Sri Lanka religious relations through Buddhism operated in other forms also. The Chulauamsha states that during the reign of Ceylonese king AggabodhiII (c. 592 CE to c. 602 CE), the king of Kalinga, and his wife visited Sinhala to listen to the preaching’s of the Buddhist monk Jotipala. Another significant aspect of Kalinga’s contact with Sinhala is the influence of the language of Kalinga on that of Sinhala. Oldenberg in his studies states that Pali went to Sinhala from Kalinga. He compared the Pali of Sinhala with the dialect of Kharavela’s inscription (Hathigumpha Inscription) at Khandagiri and Udaigiri. Also, the Ashokan inscriptions in Eastern India, especially that of Dhauli (near Bhubaneswar), establish the fact of good cultural contacts between Kalinga and Sinhala. The paintings of Sigiria and images of the Buddha at Anuradhapura in Sinhala too bear close resemblance with the paintings of Sitabanji and images of the Buddha at Lalitagiri in Odisha

Kalinga Bali

Ceylonese Coin from Manikpatna, Odisha

These political and cultural links must have established commercial relations i.e. sea-borne trade between Kalinga and Sinhala throughout the ancient period. As per VarahaMihira, Garuda Purana and Bhoja, Sinhala was one of the major trade centres of pearl-fishery in the Indian Ocean. Also, the discovery of Sinhalese king ShahasaMalla’s copper coins from Manikpatna in Odisha (as shown in image), Polonnaruva in Sri Lanka and Kotchina in Indonesia gives the proof of a rich maritime trade history between Kalinga, Sri Lanka and Sumatra (Indonesia)

Kalinga imported pearl, silver and copper from Sinhalaand exported precious stones, ivory pepper, betel-nuts, drugs and fine textile products to Sinhala. A 17thcentury CE poet of Odisha, Upendra Bhanja, known as kavisamrat (poet laureate) in his kavya, Lavanyabati speaks of the trade between Kalinga and Sinhala in the following words “bohitra lagila asi Sinhaladvipare, sadhaba jubati mane ati prantodare gale bohita bandai” i.e. “after the boat reached the island of Sinhala, the merchant ladies went in a jovial mood to adore the travelers”

Hence, we ca say that the ancient relations between Kalinga and Sinhala had spread and impacted various aspects of life i.e. starting from political relations to trade and concluding in the domains of religion and culture

Kalinga’s maritime relations with Bali and influence on adoption of Hinduism in Bali

Kalinga was instrumental in shaping the history and culture of Indonesia especially in the island of Bali. The maritime trade of Kalinga brought prosperity to the kingdom which could largely be attributed to her overseas trade with distant lands like Indonesia. The people of Kalinga maintained lasting commercial and cultural relationship with the Indonesian islands of Java, Sumatra, Bali and Borneo collectively sometime referred by some scholars as “Suvarnadvipa”. The island of Bali, formed the most attractive destination for the merchants of Kalinga. In this process, Odia culture, customs, religious beliefs, ideas, language, script and manners were popularised in this island.

Bali is the only island in Indonesia where Hinduism combined with Balinese concepts is still predominant. Even now Bali has an absolute repository of the Hindu culture of India. Hindu gods like Bhagwan Shiva, Bhagwan Vishnu, Bhagwan Brahma, Bhagwan Indra, Varuna Dev and Bhagwan Ganesha are worshipped and highly respected. H. B. Sarkar in his book titled “Some Contributions of India to the Ancient Civilization of Indonesia and Malaysia” published in 1970 says, “Indeed, all known gods of any importance in the Hindu and Buddhist pantheon of India had their heyday in Bali”

Bhagwan Shiva was considered as the most powerful divine power and was considered as the elder brother of Buddha. As per traditional beliefs, Bali was the considered to be the centre of the Universe and the home of Devi’s and Devta’s. The Balinese verses, which refer to five pious women are very much similar to India i.e. “Om Ahalya Draupadi Sita Dara (for Tara) Mandodari talha panchakanya smarennityam”. After Hinduism, Buddhism was also very popular in ancient Bali

Indian influence on Bali could be easily seen in composition of works on astrology (Balinese called wariga). Sanskrit also had a great influence on their language and literature. The Balinese till today celebrate Indian festivals like Maha Shivratri, Saraswati Puja, Durga Puja etc.

The name Bali is said to have originated from the kingdom of the demon emperor Maha Bali who had gifted away the entire world to Vamana Avatar of Bhagwan Vishnu22. There are ample proofs to testify that the Hindu influence from India reached Bali b’coz of trade relations between the two nations. Recent archaeological discoveries indicate that the contact between India and Indonesia, particularly Bali, had been at least since beginning of the Common Era or CE

Discovery of rouletted ware23, glass beads, semi-precious stone beads, potsherds with kharosthi characters etc., from Bali points to ancient cultural contact between Bali and different regions of India. The Hindu texts such as Vrihat Samhita and Kathasarita Sagar affirms trade relations between India and Bali since very early times

Kalinga Bali

Kartika Boita Bandana Festival

Kalinga had close links with the Hindu kingdom of Bali. The island of Bali was known to the sailors of Kalinga as Nariketa dvipa. Many Balinese inscriptions refer to Bali as the island of coconut24. The sailors of Kalinga made frequent voyages to the island of Bali and had their settlements in the island who consequently spread various aspects of Hindu culture. This glorious past has been preserved in a festival of Odisha known as Bali Yatra, celebrated throughout the length and breadth of Odisha. It is also known as Boita Bandana festival and is celebrated on the auspicious day of Kartika Purnima.  Even today, people of Odisha celebrate this festival by sailing boats of banana peel in rivers, ponds and sea chanting

“aa – ka – ma – ba (bha) i

pana – gua – thoi

pana – gua – tora

masaka dharama mo ra”

Kalinga and the island of Bali have influenced each other’s culture very extensively. I.G.P. Phalgunadi, an Indonesian scholar who visited Odisha and did some field work in connection of his research was surprised by seeing the similarity between the culture and life styles of the people of both the places. There are many cultural elements that are similar between Odisha and Bali, e. g. religious activities, dance forms, art and crafts, temples and monuments, textile designs, even food habits, manners and the vocabulary. Temples as socio-cultural centres are common both to Bali and Odisha. The discovery of similar type of rouletted ware at Sembiran, located in north eastern Bali and from the sites like Shishupalagarh, Manikpatna, Tamluk etc., of Odisha suggest deep ancient trade contacts between Odisha and the island of Bali25. In Bali, there is an inscription of the fourteenth century CE written in Odia language and script26. Also an interesting aspect came to light i.e. the scripts used in Bali in the tenth century CE were also used in Kalinga27

Odisha played a significant role in the evolution of Hindu culture in Bali. A section of Brahmanas in the Karangasam district of Bali styled themselves as Brahmana-Bouddha-Katinga. It seems very likely that their ancestors were immigrants from Kalinga. Some words and usages with regard to vocabulary crafts, religious practices, form of worship, food habits and manners prevalent in Bali are of Odia in origin. For example, in the coastal districts of Odisha, mother is addressed as BOU and father as BABA and in Bali the former is called BU (BOU) and the latter as BAPA. In some places of Odisha, father is also called as BAPAKalinga Bali

Kalinga Bali

Table showing similarities between Odisha & Bali

The Balinese term for betet-nut is buah28(goah) and in Odisha it is gua or guah. Cina/China is the Balinese word for groundnut, while in Odia it is china or chinabadam. Both Balinese as well as Odia’s used to call uncooked rice made out of part-boiled (or sun dried) paddy as arua29. The plough is called lengallo in Bali while the Odias used the term langala for the same. Another very interesting example is the use of the word peja or pelo both in Odisha and Bali it refers the thick fluid which is separated from cooked rice before serving it. The Brahmin priest in Odisha is known as PANDA whereas in Balinese temples he is called PADANDA30 “the holder of Dharmic Scripture”

I.G.P. Phalgunadi 31 mentions in his observation “We worship in Bali three deities, represented by masks, very much resembling the trinity, Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra in Orissa [Odisha]… In Bali, we are especially fond of leaves of sag as in Orissa [Odisha], especially the young leaves of the drum-stick tree, known in Orissa [Odisha] as sajana. We love to cook its sag along with mashed coconut as is done in Orissa [Odisha]. We also love to eat cooked banana-flowers and the core-stem of the banana plant, and also to have our food on banana leaves as in Orissa [Odisha] and Bengal. We also prepare and eat a cake made of rice-flour with stuffing’s like those known as manda and enduripitha in Orissa [Odisha], among other such cakes made of rice flour. We worship a knotted bundle of paddy-sheaves as Shridevi, the goddess of crops or harvesting, who is worshipped with the same connotation as Devi Lakshmi, in the month of Margashira in Orissa [Odisha]. Goddess Shri Lakshmi receives regular propitiation when the harvest is over. Lakshmi is regarded as the real owner of the rice fields. In west Java, this goddess is known as Devi Pohachi, the Goddess of rice.”

Balinese and Odia’s have many similarities w.r.t. food habits. Both are fond of eating saga, especially sajana saga (young green leaves of drum-stick tree). Other favourite vegetables common to both include banana flowers (bhanda) and core stem (manja) of the banana plant. The Balinese also serve their food on banana leaves as in Odisha and Bengal. Similarly cakes made out of rice-flour known as manda pitha and enduripitha are also favourite dishes of both. The habit of chewing betel and keeping the ingredients in a wooden box are found in both the regions

Not only food habits but also there is so much commonality is there w.r.t. religious structure and scriptures32. The Vasuki temple complex dedicated to Bhagwan Shiva (Parama Shiva), where Shiva is supposed to sit on the head of the Vasuki, was constructed with the belief that Bali is the centre of Universe and Mount Agung on which it was built represented Mahameru31 (highest mountain) or pivot axis of the universe. The kirtimukha motifs (themes) of Bali are influenced by that of the Muktesvara temple of Odisha (Bhubaneswar). Various forms of worship also shows similarity between the two regions. One of such instances is the worship of Goddess Sri Devi (Bali) and Devi Maa Lakshmi (Odisha). Both Devi’s are associated with dhanya and tandula. People of both the regions worship a knotted bundle of paddy-sheaves paying their respect to both the Devi’s. In Odisha, this worship is performed on every Thursday in the month of margashira (November-December) and is popular as Gurubara Manabasa

Besides, the worship of Devi’s along with worship of Bhagwan Vishnu and Bhagwan Shiva, Buddhism is also established in Bali. As per scriptures, Bhagwan Vishnu is regarded as a sage like the Buddha, the Balinese speak of Shiva as an elder brother of the Buddha33. ln the observation of daily rituals the Shaivite priests address God as Jagannath, Suresvara and Rudra. Suresvara and Rudra are being used for Bhagwan Shiva. The priests chant shlokas like “Om Ksamam mam Sivadeva, lagannath hitamkara”

In Bali, some of the rituals began with following slokas:

Om ksamasva : nama Jagannatha sarvapapanirataram

Sarvakaryam idam dehi pranamami Suresvaram 34

xx       xx       xx

Om ksamsva mam Sivadeva Jagannatha hitamkara

Sarevapapa vimutkena pranammyaham Suresvaram

Jagannatha Mahaprabhu was also worshipped by people of Bali in ancient days. K. S, Behera who visited Bali in 1992 on the occasion of Kalinga Bali Yatra festival was astonished to see the wide spread popularity of Jagannath worship in Bali35.  At Denpasar in Bali, there is a temple of Bhagwan Jagannatha. The names of Puri and Nilachala were also used in ancient Java and Bali. In Bali, the temple where images were worshipped was called Puri/Pura. 36 Like the famous Ratha Yatra (Car festival) of Puri, the Balinese also carry three wooden Gods in a grandeur procession. Masks resembling the three murtis, Jagannatha, Balabhadra and Subhadra of Odisha cover the three wooden Gods37

The accessory articles of Indian worship such as ghrta (clarified butter), kusa (a type of grass used in religious ceremonies), tila (sesame) and madhu (honey) are also used in Bali. Also, divine water is used in their rituals as it’s used here in India

Many rivers in Bali are named after the sacred rivers of India, like Ganga, Sindhu and Yamuna. The Balinese thought that those rivers really were in Kling (Kalinga). Along with other rivers, the Mahanadi River flowing in Odisha is considered sacred by the Balinese. They chant “Om Ganga, Sindhu, Saraswati, Vipasa, Kausiki-nadi, Yamuna, Mahanadi, srestha Sarayu mahati”. Mahendratanaya, another famous river of Odisha, was also held in high esteem in Bali. This river originating from the foot of the Mahendragiri mountains falls in the Bay of Bengal and is regarded as a holy river similarly it is regarded as the most sacred river in Bali. Even in the Balinese stutis (verses), this river Mahendratanaya is mentioned along with other sacred rivers. This may indicate that in ancient times some of the emigrants definitely were from the Mahendra Parvata (Mahendra mountain) area of the Ganjam district of Odisha25

The stuti or shloka runs as follows:

Om Ganga Sindhu Saraswati su Yamuna

Godavari Narmada Kaveri Sarayu Mahendratanaya

Cornavati Renuka Bhadra Netravati Mahasuranadi

Khyata ca Gandaki Punyah Puranjalah Samudrasahitah

Kurvantu te mangalam

Buddhism was also quite established in Bali. Clay stupikas and votive tablets inscribed with Buddhist dharani of c. 8th century CE are some of the positive evidences of the popularity of Buddhism in Bali. In Odisha, votive tablets with inscriptions and figures of Buddha and Bodhisattvas are known from the excavations at Ratnagiri and Avana in the coastal Odisha. Similar objects have also been discovered from Bali

Another resemblance between Odisha and the island of Bali is the designing patterns of clothes. The tie-and-dye fabric of Odisha has its close parallel in Bali. Bali is the only state in the Indonesian Archipelago famous for a particular type of tie-and-dye fabric known as PATOLA. Odisha and Gujarat are the only states in India which specialise in this type of weaving. It is believed that the famous Sambalapuri style of textile weaving has influenced the PATOLA tie and dye style of textile weaving of Bali. In Balinese cremation textile, Odishan kumbha designs are there

The Hindu caste system of India is also found in the Indonesian society, though the Brahmins and Kayasthas38 (a branch of kshatriyas) are held in equal regard. The behavioral features in both places also have much similarity. The youngsters, while passing along elders sitting or standing on the way, bend down separating themselves by stretching down their right hands towards ground. Raising of folded hands, as a common form of greeting, is a practice in both Odisha and Bali. Like Odisha, in the island of Bali, if a guest comes to a Hindu family he is first treated with a betel leaf and a nut. On auspicious occasions like marriage, the Balinese Hindus invite relatives to their house by sending betel leaf and nut as it is in practice in the coastal districts of Odisha39. In Bali, during marriage ceremony the bride and the groom wear a type of head dress (MUKUTA), which is very much like the head dress used in marriage ceremonies in Odisha

Kalinga Bali

Masakapam Kepesih Ceremony, Bali

The folk dances of Odisha like chaiti ghoda nata (chaiti ghoda dance), danda nata, naga nata (naga dance), kandhei nata (puppet dance), Ramalila etc., are very much present in both the islands of Bali and Java, though in a slightly different form.40 There is also striking affinities between Prahalada Nataka performance of Odisha and Barong dance of Bali. Masakapam Kepesih (as shown in image) ceremony in Bali is same as Bali Yatra “Boita Bandana” of Odisha. The festivals are held in both countries in the month of November

Hence, it can be said that Kalingans extensively contributed towards the evolution and development of Hindu Culture in Bali. In spite of the outside influences, the Balinese have never lost their indigenous practices like Balinese calendars follow five days a week and Saturdays are considered auspicious marked for worship of Devi Saraswati41

Maritime Activities of early Kalinga as reflected in the art, architecture, sculpture, paintings and literature of Odisha

Representation of boats in various temples in form of art asserts the importance attached to the transoceanic voyages of ancient times. Let’s have a look at few selective illustrations (as otherwise it would be a book in itself)

Lingaraj Mandira, Bhubaneswar, Odisha 42

Lingaraj Mandira has a magnificent representation of a boat (c.11th century CE). The scene represents a woman steering a boat with an oar. The depiction of a woman steering a boat is a unique specimen in the history of the Indian art tradition. It indicates that maritime activities were so popular in those days among the people of Odisha that even women were associated with the steering of the boat

Sri Mandira (Jagannatha Mandira), Puri, Odisha 43

Kalinga Bali

Boat with King on Bhogamandapa of Jagannatha Mandira, c. 12th Century CE, Puri

Jagannatha Mandira also has a magnificent representation of a boat in chlorite stone on the Bhogamandapa (hall of offering). The represented scene is of the Nava Keli Utsava “Chandan Jatra” (rowing festival) of Jagannath Mahaprabhu. From the analysis of this depicted boat, it can be presumed that the king and his attendants are shown preparing for this festival. The middle portion of the boat has a cabin and in its entrance, representation of attendants on either side can be 

discerned. Four women are shown seated with their oars. In the rear end, two ladies are depicted. Between the two, one is standing with a chhatra (parasol) and the other is shown holding something in her hand, probably associating with a sort of worship to be performed before the rowing festival begins. The boat represented here, is also of MADHYAMANDIRA type

Brahmeswar Mandira (Temple), Bhubaneswar, Odisha 44

Kalinga Bali

Shipment of Elephants from Odisha Coast/ Depiction of boats carrying elephants, Brahmeswar Mandira, c.11th Century CE, Bhubaneswar, Odisha

The earliest representation of ships can be found in the sculptured frieze collected from the vicinity of the Brahmeswar Mandira, Bhubaneswar and is now preserved in the Odisha State Museum. The frieze depicts two ships, one is fully represented and in the second one, only the frontal part is shown. In the first ship, it can be noticed that there is a standing elephant in the front part of the ship. In the centre of the ship, two persons are represented being seated, and two sailors are shown with oars in the rear end steering the ship

Vaital Mandira, western side of Bindusagara pond (adjacent to famous Lingaraj Mandira of Bhubaneswar) 45

Kalinga Bali

Vaital Mandira, c. 8th Century CE, Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Mandira is known as Vaital Deula after the peculiar form of its roof resembling a ship or boat capsized. (The word “deula” in Oriya language means a building structure built with a particular style that is seen in most of the temples from Odisha. Sometimes the whole temple is called Deula)

The term Vaita is probably a contraction of the Sanskrit word vahitra which means a sea-going vessel or ship. The word Vaitara denotes a ship, and as the roof of this temple resembles an overturned boat, it is reasonable to call it as Vaital Deula. The external appearance of the mastaka is similar to the hull of a ship reversed, and with the ends removed by planes at right angles to the longitudinal axis. The three crowning members resemble the masts of a ship

Konark Mandira (Sun Temple) Odisha 46

Kalinga Bali

Giraffe in the Sculpture of Sun Temple, Konark, c. 13th Century CE

At Konark, on the beki (parapet) of the Jagamohana (audience hall or hall in front of the sanctum) of the Sun temple, the martandabhairavas are shown as dancing on boats. Another interesting stone sculpture of a fullfledged boat of Odisha, supposed to have been collected from Konark (c. 12th century) and now preserved in the Indian Museum, Kolkata, depicts a boat being rowed by four persons. It is observed from this sculpture that in the middle of the boat there is a cabin with an upraised platform inside, and a man probably of a royal personage is sitting with a bow and arrow. This type of boat on the basis of the location of cabin is called madhya-mandira type of royal pleasure boat as described and categorised in the Yuktikalpataru of King Bhoja. The depiction of a giraffe, exclusively an African animal in the sculpture of the sun temple, Konarak positively indicates that Kalinga had overseas commercial link with Africa

Paintings illustrated on palm leaf manuscripts preserved in the State Museum at Bhubaneswar 47

Kalinga Bali

A sailing boat (c. 18th Century CE Palm Leaf Painting), Odisha

The drawing shown in the figure is a representation of a beautiful ship. It is regarded as the saruamandira type of ship as referred to by Yuktikalpataru of Bhoja, as it is covered by cabins at the front, middle and the end. Three masts can be noticed in this ship. The mast at the middle is fastened with ropes and its top is decorated with a temple like design in which representation of a god or a symbolical representation can be seen. Above it, a flag is noticed. On the top of the ship, a flying bird is artistically shown. Below the ship, representation of waves and aquatic animals like crocodile, fish etc. are depicted in an artistic manner. On both sides of the ship, two sailors can be observed. On the whole, the ship is realistically depicted with essential details as cabins, masts, flag, birds etc.

References in Literature48

Kalinga Bali

Scene from Ramayana, Indonesia

The interesting feature of Rama literature in Orissa is that it has striking similarities with the Rama literature of Indonesia. The earliest reference to Indonesia in the Indian literature is found in the Valmiki Ramayana where Sugriva gives description of the different places of the world to his messengers. In the message, he refers to Sisirontama, Ratna dvipa, Java dvipa and Suvarna dvipa, etc. From the passage cited above, it can be said that the contact between India and Indonesia began at least some centuries before the Christian era and continued for a long time

Illustrations in Overseas Kingdoms

In some of the sculptures of the Shwezayan Pagoda at Thaton in Burma (Myanmar), remarkable similarities with the Odishan art are found. The dressing and hair style of some of the females are of the Odishan varieties49. Some of the bas-reliefs, in high technical as well as artistic efficiency show affinity with early medieval sculptures of Odisha. Image of Shiva seated with Parvati from this Pagoda is very similar with the Hara-Parvati carved on the outer wall of Vaital temple of BhubaneswarKalinga Bali

The Odishan influence is also evident in the architectural and decorative programmes found in the Ananda temple, constructed during the reign period of Kyanzittha (c. 12 century CE), the Pagan king of Burma (Myanmar). Builders of the Ananda Temple were inspired by the cave temple of Ananta in the Khandagiri hills (near Bhubaneswar in Odisha)50. The shikharas (spire or tower) of the monuments of Prome have remarkable similarities with that of Bhubaneswar temples

Also, the Buddhist art of Odisha, particularly, the standing Buddha images of Lalitagiri, had a profound influence on the stylistic Buddha images of Thailand. I. C. Giover 51 the excavator of Dan-Ta-Phet site, gives credit for such sculptural transactions between Odisha and Thailand to the Buddhist missionaries. The tower or shikhara of the 12th century CE temple of Maha-Tat at Sawank’alok shows an affinity with Bhubaneswar temples in detail

There is also some resemblance between Indonesia and Odisha w.r.t. art and architecture which is asserted by striking similarities statues of Buddha found in Indonesia with images of Buddha of Odisha (as shown in image on the right hand side) 52 53 54

Wind, Weather and Significance of Kartika Purnima w.r.t. ancient voyages55

Kalinga Bali

The phrase Aa-Ka-Ma-Bhai doesn’t find much reference w.r.t. to its meaning due to scarcity of any historical inscriptions (materials), but the local belief of Kalingans is like this “It is considered as a promise that the merchants would return back between Ashadha and Kartika ( July to November) and they would be protected by Devi Mangala in their return trip”

The timings of the commencement of the journey and the return journey were associated with many guiding factors such as the direction of the wind, the movement of the water, the river/sea route followed, etc.

Let’s look at the first guiding factor i.e. “Direction of the Wind

Since, mostly the voyagers moved with the help of the sails they depended especially on the weather condition and direction of winds, monsoon being the guiding factor (In Yajur Veda there’s a reference to Salilvata an equivalent of monsoon)

India has particularly two types of monsoon winds. The return monsoon or the North-East monsoon (as shown in the image) blows during the months of November / December during which the wind direction is quite favorable to go up to Sri Lanka from any coast of East Coast. The Bay of Bengal majorly remains calm during this period. Hence, it can be inferred why Sadhabas use to commence their onward journey during the auspicious period of Kartika PurnimaKalinga Bali

Similarly the South-West monsoon (as shown in image) blows during the period from June to September. The wind direction of this period is quite favourable for the return journey from Sri Lanka to any port of Kalinga. This fact is further confirmed by festivals associated with the return journey like Khudurukuni Osha

Now, the next guiding factor i.e. “Movement of the Water”

Scientific studies have concluded that the water moves in a particular direction during a particular period of the year and this is directly connected with the wind direction. Although normally the water moves in the opposite direction of the wind but it moves along the direction of the wind at the surface level. In the Bay of Bengal in particular the water currents move with the wind. The ships during ancient times were not very big ones. Hence it can be inferred that they could have moved with the surface water. Therefore the wind direction and the movement of water all confirm the theory of commencement of the journey during November / December time period especially during Kartika Purnima

And finally the next important guiding factor “Route: River or Sea to be followed”

The water routes in ancient India were generally categorized into three types i.e. as The Nadi Patha (river route), Kulya Patha (canal route) and the Vari Patha(sea route). The Vari Patha is further categorized as into Kula Patha (coastal route) and Samyana Patha (oversea route). The traders followed both the types of sea routes for journey to Swarnabhumi and Subarnadwipa

The first route which was generally followed for a journey to Indonesia and China was Kula Patha i.e. the sailors proceeded along the east coast of India up to Sri Lanka and from there with the North equatorial current up to Indonesia and then finally to China

In the book, titled “Periplus of Erytheaean Sea” (composed between 80 and 89 A.D.) describes the route along the coast. Fa Hein sailed through this route to go back to china. He sailed from Tamaralipti to Sri Lanka then to Indonesia and finally to China. The other coastal route was through Tamaralipti, Bangladesh and Mynmar (Burma). This route came into extensive use much during 9th/10th Century A.D.

The second route known as Samyana Patha  was rarely used by Sadhavas due to lack of knowledge of the sea, absence of mariners compass, fear of pirates, unsuitability of the of the ships to traverse the deep sea, etc. Hence, they generally used the Kula Patha

Ptolemy in his geography book (150 A.D.) has reference of an apheterian (point of embarkation) near Gopalpur (Paloura) where the ships bound for Chryse turned towards deep sea. This establishes the fact that the Samyana Patha was known in early 2nd Century A.D. Even, there’s a mention of one of the trips of I-Tsing in 7th Century A.D. in ancient texts. He traveled directly from Indonesia via Andaman Nicobar islands to Tamaralipti. From Java he sailed for 10 days and reached Nicobar “Nikaber” “Land of Naked People”. From Nicobar he sailed for another 15 days and reached Tamaralipti

Hence, it can be inferred that the Kartika Purnima was celebrated as the auspicious occasion for the commencement of the journey to wish the Sadhavas a bon voyage and Khudurkuni Osha for receiving back the traders after a long voyage

Festivals & Traditions

Fairs, festivals and traditions provide us relevant information on the overseas commercial traditions of Odisha. The role of the maritime merchants finds numerous mentions in the stories and legends, narrated and depicted in festivals, folk tales and traditions of Odisha. A merchant, in ancient times, before setting out for voyage was honoured by the priests and the ladies of the household at the place of departure and the ship was worshipped at the anchor. After numerous adventures in the course of his voyage the merchant would come home at last with a lot of treasures. Numerous references of the maritime trade activities can be found in the stories and bratakathas (the story portion of the worship), narrated during the fairs and festivals, that have come down to us since ancient times

Kartika Boita Bandana Utsava56

Kalinga Bali

Some images showcasing the celebration of Kartika Boita Bandana Utsava

Some images showcasing the celebration of Kartika Boita Bandana Utsava

Boita in local language is an argosy or a large sail boat and bandana is worshipping with lighted lamp (dipa). Thus, Boita Bandana Utshava symbolises the festival of worship of sail boats with lighted lamps

The Kartika Boita Bandana Utsava (ship/boat worship ceremony in Kartika) is the most important festival which commemorates the past maritime glory of Kalinga and is celebrated throughout the length and breadth of Odisha. Every year, on the auspicious occasion of Kartika Purnima day (full-moon day of Hindu month Kartika, October-November), the people of Odisha celebrate this ceremony with pride full of splendor, fun and joviality

On this day, the Odia people, especially the ladies, set afloat miniature boats made of barks of the plantain trees or of paper with the lamps burning inside them in the same manner in which the ladies of yester years used to send off their men on voyages wishing them good luck. The ladies put betel, betel nuts, rice, oil seeds, pulses, yava and barley and other such things representing various commodities in the miniature boats that were taken out in shiploads by the merchants for trade during ancient Kalinga days. 57 They recite these words

“aa – ka – ma – ba (bha) i

pana – gua – thoi

pana – gua – tora

masaka dharama mo ra”

Women also sing folklores with fabulous accounts of voyages. They also blow Sankha (conch shells), beat Ghanta (bell) and make joyous sounds Hulahuli with their tongues in front of the ships. Finally, looking towards the south, in which direction flows the rivers to meet the ocean, they pay homage in memory of the early navigators

The custom appears to be symbolic of the sea voyage, which was generally undertaken in the month of Kartika when the rainy season came to a close and the Indian Ocean remains calm after the stormy days of the monsoons58. The Kartika Purnima was also considered as an auspicious day to start voyages for trade (as explained in detail in section titled “Wind, Weather and Significance of Kartika Purnima w.r.t. ancient voyages”)

Bali Jatra “Bali Yatra” Festival

Kalinga Bali

Some images showcasing the Bali Jatra Festival at Cuttack, Odisha

Some images showcasing the Bali Jatra Festival at Cuttack, Odisha


On this Kartika Purnima Day every year on the bank of the great river Mahanadi, at a place called Gadagadiaghata, in Cuttack, people celebrate the festival known as “Bali Jatra” (voyage to the island of Bali) with pride full of splendor, fun and joviality59

It is observed to commemorate the glorious ancient maritime history of Kalinga especially the sea voyages to island of Bali. Another religious significance60 is also associated with the same. In 15th Century CE, Chaitnya Mahaprabhu on his way to Jagannatha Puri arrived at Cuttack on the Kartika Purnima and organised SANKIRTANA (mass religious prayer) on the sandy bed (bali) of the river Mahanadi at Gadgadia ghat. The residents of the city continued it in his memory and named it Bali Jatra since it was held on the sandy bed of the river. Further, Jatra also means a large fair or festival. As the trade fair is held on the sandy bed of the river, it is named Bali Yatra (Jatra)

In Cuttack, Bali Jatra is celebrated annually as a large open fair near the Barabati Fort area61. It is said to be the largest fair of Odisha state. There are several attractions for children, and food stalls selling Oriya delicacies (Cuttacki Dahivada Aludum, Thunka Puri, Barafa Pan, Gupchup, etc.) from different parts of the state, and it also provides provided opportunities to the local artisans and craftsmen to display their products. Bali Jatra also provides a lot of cultural programs like display of martial arts, folk dances, folk songs and other variety programmes – all by amateur artists. For the children, there are various attractions like the magic shows, charmers displaying the acrobatic tricks of their tamed animals and merry-go-rounds, etc. Every year millions of people from all over the nation come to experience it

During Bali Jatra, children float toy boats made of colored paper, dried banana tree barks, and cork in the Mahanadi, ponds, water tanks, etc., to commemorate the voyage of their ancestors to Indonesia. These toy boats, usually launched after sunset contain small oil lamps, which are lit and placed inside them, to provide an attractive sight during the festival. This festival is also celebrated with great fanfare in Paradeep Port. Bali Jatra bears testimony to the rich maritime legacy of ancient Odisha

1992 Expedition of INS V-Samudra to commemorate ancient maritime trade by State Govt. of Odisha62

To revive the legacies of the maritime glory, the State government launched an expedition to Bali islands on the Kartika Purnima day in 1992. History was recreated when the seven member crew on board of a thirteen meter long naval yacht INS V-Samudra sailed for the islands from Paradeep Port amidst much fanfare to retrace the ancient trade route

On 10th Nov, 1992, the Kalinga Bali Yatra began the retracing of the old trade route taken by the ancient Kalingas of Orissa to Bali, Java and Sumatra after the traditional ceremony of ‘Boita Bandana’. The then Chief Minister Late Biju Patnaik and several Indonesian diplomats were present during the flag-off

Thousands of people gathered to witness and cheer the crew. The yacht covered a distance of 5,810 nautical miles over a period of seventeen weeks and reached Bali islands (following this route Paradeep to Campbell Bay and finally reached Bali via Padang and Jakarta)

A grand reception was accorded by the local government and the citizen. The H.E Governor of Bali was personally present. Seminars and exhibition of cultural arts and crafts of Odisha were the highlights of the function

The voyage culminated in a three day festival comprising a seminar on Indonesian cultural ties, an exhibition of Orissan handicrafts and classical arts performances of classical (Odissi), martial (Chhau) and folk (Sambalpuri) dance traditions of Orissa

During the two-day Kalinga Bali Yatra conference the points of conclusion arrived at are as follows

  1. There is a significant close relationship between India and Indonesia which is manifested in several aspects of life such as philosophy or way of life, languages, technology and arts
  2. It seems that the contact between India and Bali has been existing since the 3rd century BC., yet it is not clear, however, whether the contact between India and Indonesia is direct or indirect. Recent archaeological discoveries testify to the contact between India and Indonesia, particularly Bali

Khudurukuni Osha63

Kalinga Bali

Worship of Boat on the occasion of Khudurukuni Osha, Odisha

It is one of the most important festivals w.r.t. maritime trade activities of Kalinga (ancient Odisha). The celebration of this festival also reminds us of the glorious maritime tradition of Kalinga, when there was sea-borne trade with the South-East Asian islands of Java, Bali, Sumatra, Borneo, Ceylon, etc (as shown in image). It is observed on the Sundays of the month of BHADRAVA (August-September), majorly by unmarried girls and newly married wives (in some parts) of all castes throughout Odisha, 64 especially in the coastal districts of Balasore, Bhadrak, Kendrapada, Jagatsinghpur, Cuttack, Puri, Khordha, Nayagarh and Ganjam

Kalinga Bali

Some images showcasing the vidhi’s of Khudurukuni Osha being celebrated in a village (worshiping Devi Maa Mangala)

During the festival, Devi Maa Mangala (a form of Maa Durga) is worshipped to fulfill all the desires. The festival is named Khudurukuni (one who is very eager for khuda), because the principal fond offered to the Devi is khuda (particles of rice), which is believed to be the favourite of the Maa Mangala. In some places of Odisha, this ritual is also known as Bhalkuni Puja or Bhaluni Osha65

In the early morning the girls go out collecting flowers required for the Puja viddhi (ritual). They collect various types of flowers including Kaniara, Godibana, Tagara, Malati, Champa, Mandera and Kain. Then they go to nearby rivers and tanks to have purificatory bath. After this they build tiny temples of earth or sand and decorate the same with flowers. Paying respect to the Devi there, they return to their respective homes. And whole day is spent in making garlands and decorating the image of the Devi Maa Mangala. In villages generally the Devi Maa is worshipped in the Dhinkisala (the place where caddy is pounced). This place is plastered neatly with cow-dung and the Murti Sthapana of the Devi Maa Mangala is done. The floor is painted with floral despins (designs) known as Jhoti or Alpana. Garlands are made to hang like arches. The whole day passes with the arrangement and the rituals of worship commence in the evening

In the evening of the Osha day, the girls worship the Devi Maa Mangala, offering Khuda Bhaja (left out particles of rice that are fried), Kantiali Kakudi (cucumber having little thorns on it), Lia (fried paddy), Ukhuda (fried paddy sweetened by molasses) and Srifala (coconut) and musically recite the poem from a book titled Khudurukuni osha written by late Gopinath Das, in which an episode relating to a Sadhava family and its only daughter Taapoi is narrated

The father of Taapoi was a rich merchant (sadltaua) and used to go on distant voyages. Taapoi had seven brothers who were married. She spent her early life in the midst of utmost luxury, getting the love and affection of her brothers and sisters-in-law. Later on, the seven brothers, after the death of their parents, went on a sea voyage with their BOITAS (flotilla) to distant lands for wealth. At their departure, they instructed their wives to take special care of their only beloved sister, Taapoi. However, destiny had something else for Taapoi. She was subjected to ill-treatment by her bhaujas “sisters-in-laws” and consequently, to utmost miseries and distress. She was made to live on khuda (left out rice particles) and was engaged to watch goats in the jungle

Inspite of unbearable torture she waited patiently for her brothers to return. The youngest sister-in-law was kind to her, but couldn’t come to her rescue because of the six others. Amidst all sufferings Taapoi held her morale high. All the while she was praying Devi Maa Mangala for the safe return of her brothers. She worshipped the Goddess along with other girls and offered khuda as she had nothing else

Her sincere and devotional prayer yielded fruit and her brothers returned safely. They landed on the shore at night and while resting on the vessel they heard the wailing sound of a girl. Being curious as to who was crying they searched the area and found to their utter dismay, that she was none else than their dear sister. As the pet goat ‘Gharamani’ was missing, she was driven out by the in-laws and without being able to find the goat she was helplessly crying. Seeing her brothers, her joys knew no bounds. The brothers heard all about her plight at the hands of their wives. To punish them they asked their sister to cut their noses. But, their noses were restored when she again prayed the Goddess. Then all of them went happily home

The episode, however, is a living legend which not only gives a graphic description of the maritime activities but also represents the socio-economic and religious backdrop of the contemporary Odisha. It also tells usthat, the Sadhavas of Odisha were a prosperous community who had trade links with many countries. The Sadhavas not only had such maritime contacts rather they made Odisha a rich and prosperous kingdom because of it. On sociological side, the story is a reminder to all wives to treat their sisters-in-law with kindness and affection. Further the prevalence of the story throughout Odisha and the worship of Mangala by the girls belonging to all castes shows that the sea-voyages were at one time quite a common thing in the state. Here, it is to be mentioned that the Sadhavas were rich merchants, generally associated with the maritime trade. They did not belong to a particular caste but constituted a class including people from different castes interested in the maritime trade 66 67

Akashadipa Vidhi “Ritual” 68 69 70

The Akashadipa Vidhi observed in the Hindu month of Kartika also reflects the maritime heritage of Kalinga. The Akashadipa system is being practiced in Odisha since very early times. Besides its religious significance, the Akashadipa also served as the artificial light houses to the sailors

The observation of this vidhi, in the month of Kartika, indicates two things – one on the ground of religion and the other on the basis of navigation. On the ground of religion, Akashadipa, is an auspicious symbol and was meant to wish goodwill and good luck to the sailors on their voyages in those days. From the other side, the sailors considered this as the so called light house and sailed their ships in the right direction

The above description was generally applicable to the beginners of the sea-voyages. Similarly, for the sailors and merchants who returned from their trading trips, the Akashadipa would serve as the light houses to determine their point of destination. Initially this system was practiced especially in the coastal villages but with passage of time, it gained importance and the tradition was followed throughout Odisha


The cultural heritage of each nation confines the real value of cultural formation process, the positive expression of the historical tradition and national characteristics. Ancient Odisha, popularly known as Kalinga was the epicenter of the inland and foreign trade and played a leading role in the dissemination of their culture and civilization in the Indonesian islands and there is a need to ensure that these cultural practices and traditions borne out of enduring commercial and cultural relationship live on and its meaning, symbolism and significance is not obliterated from social consciousness with the passage of time and confrontation with modern lifestyles

{Special thanks to “Odisha State Museum” and “Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies” for all the help

Thanks to my parents Kunja Bihari Mohanty and Damini Manjari Dev Goswami for their guidance}



  1. Kalinga – Indonesian Cultural Relations by Karuna Sagar Behera published by Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies, 2007 (Early Maritime Contacts between India and South East Asia Chapter by H.P. Ray)
  2. Monastery and Guild: Commerce under the Satavahanas by H.P. Ray, 1984
  3. Early Maritime Contacts between South and Southeast Asia, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies XX(1): 42-54 by H.P. Ray, 1989
  4. Kalinga – Indonesian Cultural Relations by Karuna Sagar Behera published by Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies, 2007 (Kalinga’s Role in South East Asia, Chapter by H.B. Sarkar)
  5. Early Maritime Contacts of Odisha with Indonesia and Sri Lanka by Benudhar Patra
  6. History and Archaeology of India’s Contacts with Other Countries (From Earliest time to 300 BC), by S.Asthana, Delhi, 1976 pp 140-141
  7. A History of Sri Lanka, by K.M. De Silva, 1984 pp.3-4
  8. Mahavamsa by W.Geiger (tr.), New Delhi, 1993 pp. 51-54
  9. Glimpses of Kalinga History by M.N. Das, Calcutta, 1949 p.93
  10. Maritime Trade in Ancient Orissa by K.S. Behera, 1977 (Chapter Sidelights on the History and Culture of Orissa by M.N. Das p.118); Glimpses of Kalinga History by M.N. Das, Calcutta, 1949 p.89
  11. Glimpses of the Maritime Activities of Kalinga by K.S. Behera (Orisa Review, Vol XLIX, No.4 Nov p.7)
  12. Epigraphia Zeylanica, Vol I, p.132
  13. Paranavitana, ‘The Kalinga Dynasty of Ceylon’, U.N. Ghoshal (ed.), Journal of Greater India Society, Vol III, No I, January 1936 (Vol III & IV combined in one book), New Delhi, 1987, p.57
  14. Culavamsha, Vol I & II, W. Geiger (tr.), New Delhi, 1992. Chapter 59; P.C. Rath “Maritime Activities of Kalinga, Journal of Kalinga Historical Reserarch Society, Vol I, No.4, March 1947, p 355
  15. Paranavitana, op.cit., p 58; S.P. Gupta (ed.), Aspects of India’s History and Culture, delhi, 1974, p.246
  16. Ceylon Journal of Science, Vol II pp 233 & 236; Mahavamsa, op.cit, Chapter 70, verse 53-54
  17. Sidelights on the History and Culture of Orissa by M.N. Das (ed.) pp.125-126
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  39. B. Sarkar “Some Contributions of India to the Ancient Civilization of Indonesia and Malaysia”, 1970, p.192
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  41. Early Maritime Contacts of Odisha with Indonesia and Sri Lanka by Benudhar Patra
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  48. Kalinga – Indonesian Cultural Relations by Karuna Sagar Behera published by Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies, 2007 (Chapter “Common Rama Episodes of Orissa and Indonesia by K.C.Sahu”)
  49. R.Ray, Brahmanical Gods in Burma, Calcutta: Calcutta University, 1932, p.57
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  51. C.Grover, “Early Trade between India and South east Asia – A link in the development of a world Trading System (Occassional Paper 16), Centre for South – East Asian Studies, University of Hall pp. 142-143
  52. Early Maritime Contacts of Odisha with Indonesia and Sri Lanka by Benudhar Patra
  54. P.Ghosh “Relation between the Buddha Images of Orissa and Java”, Modern Review , Nov 1938, Calcutta p.503
  55. “Kartika Purnima and Bali Yatra: A Scientific Analysis” by Prof A.K. Pattanayak, published in Bali Yatra Smaranika 2001 edition by Cuttack District Administration
  56. Early Maritime Contacts of Odisha with Indonesia and Sri Lanka by Benudhar Patra
  57. N.Das, Glimpses of Kalinga History, Calcutta, 1949, p.123
  58. K.Mahtab, History of Orissa, Vol I, Cuttack, 1981, p.175
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  62. Kalinga – Indonesian Cultural Relations by Karuna Sagar Behera published by Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies, 2007 (Kalinga Bali Yatra: A Voyage from Orissa to Bali 1992-93 by I.Made Bandam)
  63. Early Maritime Contacts of Odisha with Indonesia and Sri Lanka by Benudhar Patra
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  68. Early Maritime Contacts of Odisha with Indonesia and Sri Lanka by Benudhar Patra
  69. K.Mishra “Odiya Loka Samskrutire Sagara Jatara Smruti O Sanketa” (O), K.S.Behara (ed.) Sagara O Sahitya, (O) Cuttack, 1993 pp. 128-129)


  1. Odisha State Museum, Bhubaneswar
  2. Early Maritime Contacts of Odisha with Indonesia and Sri Lanka by Benudhar Patra
  7. Kalinga – Indonesian Cultural Relations by Karuna Sagar Behera published by Orissan Institute of Maritime and South East Asian Studies, 2007


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Asutosh Mohanty

"Never say DIE" spirit... The only thing which I believe in this world is the CONFIDENCE on myself... as it's the only thing which helps me in difficult times..."So Never Give Up my friends..."
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