Oriya - Settlements

In 1981, 88.21 percent of the people of Orissa lived in Villages. In 1971, 51,417 villages of Orissa ranged in population from less than 500 persons (71.9 percent), 500-900 persons (18.8 percent), 1,000-1,999 persons (7.5 percent), to more than 2,000 persons (1.78 percent). The Oriya villages fall into two major types: linear and clustered. The linear settlement pattern is found mostly in Puri and Ganjam districts, with houses almost in a continuous chain on both sides of the intervening village path and with kitchen gardens at the back of the houses. Cultivated fields surround the settlement. In the cluster pattern each house has a compound with fruit trees and a kitchen garden. The Scheduled Castes live in linear or cluster hamlets slightly away from the main settlement, with their own water tanks or, today, their own wells. In the flooded coastal areas one finds some dispersed houses, each surrounded by fields for cultivation. In traditional Orissa, two styles of houses ( ghara ) were common. The agriculturists and higher castes had houses of a rectangular ground plan with rooms along all the sides ( khanja-ghara ), leaving an open space ( agana ) in the center. Mud walls with a gabled roof of thatch made of paddy stalks or jungle grass (more durable) were common. The more affluent had double-ceiling houses ( atu ghara ) with the inner ceiling of mud plaster supported by wooden or bamboo planks. This construction made it fire-proof and insulated against the summer heat and winter chill. The entrance room was usually a cowshed, as cattle were the wealth of the people. Men met villagers and guests on the wide front veranda. Poorer people had houses with mud walls and straw-thatched gable roofs, without enclosed courtyards or double ceilings. The smoke from the kitchen escaped under the gabled roof. The Oriya had, in common with Eastern India, a wooden husking lever ( dhenki ) in the courtyard for dehusking paddy rice or making rice flour. Nowadays houses with large windows and doors, roofs of concrete (tiled or with corrugated iron or asbestos sheets), walls of brick and mortar, and cement floors are becoming common even in Remote villages. In the traditional house, the northeastern corner of the kitchen formed the sacred site of the ancestral spirits ( ishana ) for family worship.

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