The 'Chaitra Parba' or 'Chhau Festival' commences from the
11th April every year and continues for three days concluding on
'Mahavisuba Sankranti Day' at Baripada. This is the festival of festivals,
which is enjoyed by the people of the country and the enthusiasts from
Chaitra Parva or Parba is the most significant festival attached to "Mayurbhanj Chhau". It is observed for three days prior to "Maha Visubha Sankranti" (which generally falls on 13th or 14th) in the month of April every year.
During the royal regime, the festival was observed in the capital of princely states of Mayurbhanj and after merger of the state of Orissa, the district headquarter Baripada of the district of Mayurbhani has become the place for its observation.
Origin Of The Parva
The origin of 'Chaitra Parva' goes back to hoary past. In its early years it was conceived to be a religious festival but with the pace of time it has been converted into an art festival with some religious fervour. It is observed for days together continuously with 'Saivite' Ceremonies and rituals during the daytime, where as Chhau Dance is performed in the night.
It is known from the history that till the period of Maharaja 'Krushna Chandra Bhanj Deo' i.e. 1882 Chhau was not attached to Chaitra Parva. Another dance called "Rama Navami Nata" was being performed during the festival. But after introduction of Chhau in Mayurbhanj state the dance was attached to the Parva subsequently.
In its early years during the royal administration, the prime objective of the festival was to invoke and propitiate Lord Shiva through Saivite Ceremonies for prosperity of the kingdom and the king. It is believed that if Lord Shiva is invoked during the month of Chaitra, welfare of the community and also of the individual occurs.
Therefore, it is natural that in this particular period of the year the people would think to propitiate Lord Shiva with prayers and rituals. Worship of Gods and Goddesses through dance and music has the religious sanction of the Hindu. Hence, the dance and music has close affinity with the religious rites performed to propitiate Gods.
It is believed that the rituals and penances undertaken to propitiate God need to be observed in most perfect manner otherwise an opposite disastrous effect may be obtained. Hence, on behalf of the people who can adhere to strict discipline and undertake penance to propitiate Gods for the benefit of the people and community an authorised to do such activities. They are called "Bhaktas".
Accordingly the Maharajas of Mayurbhanj also authorised the Bhaktas to pray and propitiate Lord Shiva in the month of Chaitra for prospects of the kingdom and the King. The occasion during which such Saivite Ceremonies are performed is called Chaitra Parva.