Dhenkanal District’s has an ancient tradition of art and culture. The District’s handicraft industry has been widely acclaimed for its finesse. Its Dokra casting works, Brass/ Bell Metal works, Horn works, Straw works, Wood and stone carvings, Bamboo works, Tribal Jewellery works, Silver filigree works, Soft toys, Art textiles, Artistic pottery works and Woolen carpets have made a mark. These works has got much demand in the domestic as well as international market.
Dhenkanal District’s varied culture is aptly displayed by the different religious groups residing there. Since the day of its inception, the different Hindu sects like Saivaism, Baishnavism, Shaktism etc. have been flourishing here along with Buddhism. This is the place where the Mahima Dharma originally originated.
Many Historical temples and places signify the depth of Dhenkanal’s culture and tradition. The grandest peak of Kapilash range enshrines the temple of Lord Shiva Chandrasekhar at height of about 457 mts every year during Mahasivratri ‘Jagara Yatra’ is being observed at Kapilash. The hills at Kapilash have several caves as well as ruins of a mediaeval fort which are regularly visited by Pilgrims. Some of the caves are associated with the Pauranic episodes that have great appeal to the visitors. The great names of Shridhar Swami, the celebrated commentator of the Bhagabat and Mahima Gosain, the founder of Mahima cult, are historically associated with the place.
Joranda is famous as the religious and historical headquarters of ‘Mahima Dharma’. Joranda houses the Samadhi of Mahima Gosain. There are also some sacred temples of historical value, such as ‘Shunya Mandir’, ‘Dhuni Mandir’ and ‘Gadi Mandir’. Pilgrims in large number swarm to Joranda fair held on full moon day of Magha which falls in January- February every year.
There are some major festivals of Dhenkanal District appositely reflecting its rich and diverse culture. The District’s celebration of Gajalaxmi Puja is an event worth mentioning for its eye-catching events.This festival continues for eleven days. During the festival, entire Dhenkanal town is decorated with Puja Mandaps and electrical lighting. On the occasion of Laxmi Puja the District administration organizes ‘Palishree Mela’ with the support of other Government agencies. The cultural programmes organized on the occasion add glamour and charm to the celebration of this festival.
Every year during Mahasivaratri ‘Jagar Yatra’ is being observed at Kapilash.Devotees and pilgrims come from different corners of the country and assemble on the Kapilash Peak.Dussehra festival at Kamakhyanagar bears a special significance in the culture of Dhenkanal District.Goddess Durga is worshipped here at Kamakhyanagar with high spirits. Magha Mela which is celebrated at Joranda is the most famous festival of the ’Mahima Dharam’ followers. Every year it begins on ‘Magha Purnima’ and continues for four days. Bullock Festival of Bhuban has a special identity. Racing competition of bullocks is held during the Bullock festival.
Paika Akhada, Gopala Laudi, Danda Nacha, Gumura, Changu, Bandi Nacha, Odissi Kirtan, Dhuduki Nacha, Kandhei Nacha and Ghoda Nacha are the major dance forms of the District. Mahila Palla and Odissi Kirtan are the song programmes that have been enthralling the audience since time immemorial.
There are a number of literary, cultural and dramatic organizations functioning in the District which play a vital role in the development of the socio cultural life of its people.