The culture of Malkangiri District is displayed by the song and dance programmes of its tribal people, the major portion of the District’s population. The chief tribes seen here are Bondas, Gadabas, Kondhs and Koyas. Music is the chief amusement of these tribes and during the festival season, it becomes their favourite pastime. A variety of crude instruments are used in playing this music. Tough each tribe has its own distinctive music and musical instruments, the making and manipulation of some of these instruments are done with such skill that, extremely simple though they are, it becomes almost impossible to emulate them.In each tribe, different type of music are prescribed Women sing in chorus when working in the fields, and men and boys while away the lonely hours of watching cattle by warbling to themselves.
Dancing is one activity about which all men and women are passionately fond of. During festivals, dancing parties begin at nightfall, last whole night and continue even through the following day. Each tribe has its own particular dance and practice different type of music for different seasons and occasions. The Koyas have an interesting dance, in which the men tie buffalo or bison horns on their heads and engage in mimic fights; their women also dancing prettily in a ring with their hands on each other’s shoulder. The Parojas dance and the dances of the Gadabas are simpler but no les spirited. Many entertainment and cultural programmes were organised by the officials working in Dandakaranya Project. Public Relation Officers of Dandakaranya Project also arranged film shows in villages.
At the endeavor of the local people, teachers and government officials, dramas were shown at the recreation centre of the District headquarters. The Kalamandap is used for such entertainment programmes. The Sakhi Dance of Ganjam was also practiced here for some time. At Balimela, under the sponsorship of Gopabandhu Cultural Centre and Tamasa Art Centre, cultural programmes are also held. Tribal folk songs are also relayed by Jeypore Akashbani Centre. In the observance of all these songs and dance, there are also certain taboos which these tribes keep away from, like those related to incest and adultery. But still sometimes, there is relaxation of rules, like that forbidding men and women of the same village to dance together.
These tribal festivals are occasions where mostly a demigod or demon is worshipped. The chief festival among the Kondhs is the Kedu festival, which was once associated with human sacrifice.At present a buffalo is sacrificed in place of the human victim. Hunting is another favorite recreation of these tribal people. In the hot season and especially in the month of ‘Chaitra’, organized beats are held in which all the men and boys of the village take part, armed with bows and arrows, axes or spears and occasionally with matchlocks and slay any live thing, irrespective of age or sex, which they may meet in the forest. Such expeditions, as a matter of course, culminate in a feast in the village.
Different festivals are celebrated in Malkangiri District at different times of the year. Shivaratri, Holi and Ratha Yatra are among the chief festivals of the Hindus residing here. Apart from these, there are a few festivals, which are celebrated by particular communities in different parts of the District. Every year on the full moon day of Phalgun, a great festival is celebrated by the Harichand Baba and Nara Narayan Sevashram for three days. This is a major festival of the Bengalis residing on the banks of Potteru.Besides this, another festival is also celebrated by the Kashi Krishana Ashram in M.V.–7 village. On the Magha Purnima day, ‘Asta Prahari Nama Yagnya’ is observed by the Bengalis in the Goura Gobinda Ashram at M.V.–3.
This attracts a large number of people and free food and accommodation are arranged for the devotees and visitors arriving at the festival. In these Yatras, one finds the traditional shade of the people of Bengal. Apart from these festivals, Bada Yatra, Bali Yatra and Chaitra Parba are the other major festivals celebrated in the District.
Malyabanta Mohatsava has been celebrating from 2003 and people are taking more fun and enjoy in this festival.
(Source – District Culture office and NIC, Malkangiri)