Cuisine is a key ingredient of knowing the culture of Rayagada in a true sense. In fact the people have developed taste for spicy and tasty food. Dishes are simple yet quite sumptuous. People of other places like the dishes that they prepare also as well. Food also forms an integral part of their festive celebration. Both vegetarian and non- vegetarian dishes are popular. Staple food is rice. Their meals comprise of a chief course and also dessert. Pickles, curd is also taken with main course. Sweet dishes are equally popular. Majority of the sweet dishes of the entire state are prepared from milk. Kheer and rice pudding are some of the sweet delicacies.
Veggies love to savor delicacies like Alu matter Alu bhajia, alu dum, and charchari. Amongst the non - vegetarian delicacies like fish and other seafoods are widely popular. Due to the proximity of Orissa to seacoasts, the prawns, crabs and fishes are profusely cooked in large quantity. Fish curry, prawn malay curry, crab kalia and chilly fish are popular sea foods in the state. Mode of preparing food also is quite unique. They cook dishes like chicken curry, mutton curry, chicken masala and chilly chicken using less oil Food also is of fewer calories.
Fairs and festivals also are an integral part of the culture of Rayagada. Varied festivals of are feted which are related to different themes like religion, tribal community, music festivals, and a lot of seasonal fairs and exhibitions are organized. Major festival is Rath Yatra, which was held during the months of June-July. Other festivals include Chaitra Parba of Maa Maji Ghariani Goddess; Ganesh Puja. Kali Puja is celebrated in the month of November . In the following another festival , namely Lakshmi Puja is A month before Kali Puja , i.e on the month of October Dasehera is feted in great enthusiasm. Annual celebration of Every year Gram Devata is celebrated during the months of March- April . It went continuously for nine days. Christmas also is a popular festival of Rayagada.
Durga Puja typifies the practice of good over evil. The festival is devoted to the deity Goddess Durga who is an epitome of power. It is a 5-day festival. At the time of festival tourists throng the streets, while number of devotees gather near 'Puja mandaps ' to offer their prayers .On Vijayadashami, the last day of the Durga Puja festival, huge procession was organized for bringing out the images of Goddess Durga images into the streets. Ultimately these images are emerged into the water bodies.
Konark Festival is celebrated during December 1 to 5. To participate into this festival people from Rayagada visit the Konark temple. Various dance and melodious songs energize the whole of the festive mood.
The Konark Dance Festival also is organized at the same time. Thus a whole ambience creates a special charm amongst those who are present. Another popular festival of Konark is Megha Mela, which used to be held during the January - February. It falls on 7th day of Magha month. It also is widely visited by people of Rayagada and also that of other countries.
Held at the time period between March and April, Taratarini Mela is one of the largest melas or fairs of the entire state. During the month of Chaitra , on every Tuesday , this gala fair Chaitra' month starts from middle of March to middle of April. Venue is the Taratarini Pitha , which is located almost thirty kms from Berhampur city of Orissa . At the time of the festivals, a myriad of tourists gather there to cherish the festive mood of the place. Naturally people of Rayagada also pay visit to this place as well.
Puri Beach Festival is feted during November 5 to 9. It is the time when people go gaga with festivity. People of Rayagada also participate into it in great jubilance. This magnificent festival is conducted by the Hotel and Restaurant Association of Orissa (HRAO). The Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, the Department of Tourism, Government of Orissa, Development Commissioner of Handicrafts and the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center, Calcutta act as co-sponsor. Various events like fashion shows and other cultural programs are organized at the exotic sea beaches of Puri.
Mood of joy is created with the celebration of Dhanu Yatra. It is held during December-January. It is organized commemorating the auspicious visit of Lord Krishna to Mathura.
Dhanu Yatra celebration are related to the Lord Krishna's visit to Mathura. The charming "Bow" ceremony is held at Bargarh. Bargarh town becomes Mathura, Jira river becomes Yamuna . Also Amapalli village lying on river bank becomes Gopa. Naturally, people of Rayagada also go there and enjoy the festival to their hearts content. Dance and Music
The lives of people of Rayagada get fiesta with dance and musical bonanza. In fact the state of Orissa has its treasure of music. The images of figures of dancers or musicians that were engraved on primitive temples of the state bear proof of this rich tradition. Evidences of saint poets composing and singing lyrical poems are not rare. There were bards who roam about and hymning songs, which act as means of propagating religious ideas.
Music of Orissa is mainly classical which incorporate several elements that are common to other musical genre like Hindustani and Karnatic. Ragas and talas are such musical elements.
Dance forms also have enriched the tradition and culture of Rayagada. One of the popular forms of dance is Odissi Dance. This classical dance form originates in the temple premises. Elements like its rhythm, bhangis and mudras used in Odissi are unique and distinctive. The theme of Odissi dance centers on love of Lord Krishna and his consort Radha. It is a lyrical form of dance and is also subtle.
Chhau Dance is a primeval dance form. It has its origin in the mock fights of the Oriya paikas or warriors who used to fight following the rhythms in accompaniment of musical instruments of the natives. This stylized form of dance follow the basic principles of scholarly the Abhinaya Darpana of Nandikeswara and also Bharat Muni's Natya Shastra.
Mahari Dance is an exquisite dance format, which follows the tradition of Sri Mandira. It is an epitome of the tradition history of art of Utkal. It commemorates the holy union of Lord Jagannath and great Nari Mahari.
Apart from these a handful of folk dancing forms also have gained popularity. The Jatra. Pala and Daskarhia representing significant facets of the culture of folk people of Orissa Jatra is a type of desi theatre. Theatrical elements like song, dance, performance, playing and theatrical clash are being incorporated in it.