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Odissi Classical and

Sacred Temple Dance of India

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In ancient India the temple was the center of learning, culture, religion and art. In Odisha, in north eastern India, in the temple of Lord Jagannath, 'Lord of the Universe,' religious rituals, music, and dance were combined together to create the highly sculpturesque and devotional dance style, Odissi.





The Maharis ( Maha- Great, Nari- Lady ) were the temple dancers (Deva Dasi) from the Jagannath temple in Puri, Odisha. The Maharis were married to the temple Diety (Lord Jagannath) and only performed the singing and dancing as daily ritual inside the inner sanctum of the temple for the pleasure of Lord Jagannath.



Odissi music like Odissi dance was neglected for a long time. Today, it radiates far beyond the frontiers of Odisha and, in India, occupies a place equal to those of other classical styles.



An Odissi journey starts with exercises and basic steps in Chouk and Tribhangi. Pada Sadhana: "Sadhana" means practice. Pada Sadhana is the practice of Odissi steps. Steppings in Chowk and Tribhangi are an important part of learning Odissi.


Costumes and Jewelry

Odissi dance is complemented by intricate filigree silver jewelry pieces. Filigree, in French, means “thin wire,” and in Oriya it is called Tarchasi. This highly skilled art form is more than 500 years old and is traditionally done by local artisans on the Eastern shores of Odisha.

Photography: Andy Mogg

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