Celebrating Tradition and Valour: Kalinga Mahotsav in Bhubaneswar, Odisha

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Nestled in the heart of Odisha, Bhubaneswar is not just a city of ancient temples and rich history but also a vibrant hub of cultural festivities. Among its numerous cultural offerings, the Kalinga Mahotsav stands out as a unique celebration of martial arts, drawing enthusiasts from across India and beyond. This festival is not just an event; it’s a profound expression of peace and valor, deeply rooted in the historical ethos of the region.

The Genesis of Kalinga Mahotsav

Kalinga Mahotsav, or the Festival of Martial Arts, was conceived to celebrate the spirit of martial traditions dating back to the legendary Kalinga War fought by Emperor Ashoka in 261 BCE. This war, which marked a significant turning point in Ashoka’s life, leading to his embrace of Buddhism and non-violence, is commemorated in a way that promotes peace through the valor of martial arts.

The festival is held annually at the Dhauli Shanti Stupa, a site of great historical and spiritual significance. The Stupa, with its serene and solemn white peace pagoda, offers a poignant backdrop to the festival, symbolizing peace and non-violence.

A Spectacle of Martial Traditions

Kalinga Mahotsav is a two-day event that showcases the diversity of martial arts in India. The festival features performances from various martial arts schools from across the country, each bringing their unique styles and traditions to the stage. These include:

  • Kalaripayattu from Kerala, one of the oldest fighting systems in existence.
  • Thang-Ta, a traditional martial art from Manipur.
  • Paika Akhada, local to Odisha, which is believed to be one of the earliest forms of martial arts in India.
  • Silambam, a weapon-based martial art from Tamil Nadu.

Each performance at the festival is a narrative, telling tales of bravery, skill, and the ancient martial traditions of India. The artists, dressed in traditional attire, wielding weapons like swords and spears, perform with agility and precision, often to the accompaniment of live music and chants, creating a mesmerizing atmosphere.

Promoting Peace through Valor

The underlying theme of the Kalinga Mahotsav is the transformation of Emperor Ashoka after the Kalinga War and his subsequent adoption of Buddhism and non-violence. The festival uses the medium of martial arts to convey messages of peace and brotherhood. It is a reminder that true strength lies in self-control and the power to forgive and make peace.

This celebration also serves as a platform to revive and preserve India’s ancient martial arts, which have been integral to the cultural heritage of the country. It brings together practitioners and enthusiasts, fostering a spirit of respect and appreciation for these arts as not just forms of combat but as art forms that encompass physical fitness, discipline, and spirituality.

Experience the Cultural Extravaganza

For those planning to visit Bhubaneswar during the Kalinga Mahotsav, it offers an enriching experience that goes beyond the conventional tourist path. Apart from the martial arts, the festival also features various cultural performances, handicraft stalls, and local cuisine, making it a holistic cultural feast.

Visitors can also explore the city’s rich historical landmarks, like the Lingaraj Temple, Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves, and the Odisha State Museum, to complement their experience of the festival.


The Kalinga Mahotsav is more than just a festival; it is a profound tribute to the martial arts and warriors of yore, celebrating their legacy through a message of peace and reconciliation. It reflects the deep cultural fabric of Odisha and offers a compelling blend of history, art, and spirituality that is captivating for both the mind and the spirit. Whether you are a history buff, a cultural enthusiast, or someone fascinated by the martial arts, Kalinga Mahotsav in Bhubaneswar is an event that promises to be a memorable experience.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

Introducing Blogger Mala Chandrashekhar - a specialist academically trained in modern Western sciences, yet deeply enamored with India's timeless ethnic arts, crafts, and textiles. Her heart beats for the rich and glorious cultural and spiritual heritage of India, and she has dedicated her entire blog to spreading the immortal glories of ancient India worldwide. Through her simple yet impactful blog posts, Mala aims to reach every nook and corner of the globe, sharing India's beauty and wisdom with the world.

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