Orissa is rich in folk play, yet to other states of India, Folk plays in Orissa have not received due academic support, though they reveal its history, heritage and rich tradition as well. In short, folk play may be defined as wisdom of the people inherited form oral tradition that regulates their lifestyle whether through rituals, play or symbols.
The most commonly known folk plays or Jatra of Orissa, with enactment of a wholesome play with full cast comprising all elements such as music, dancing, singing, acting, and conflict is fondly called in various synonyms such as Jatara, Leela, Nata, Nacha, Tamsha, Suanga, Samaja. While Jatara is a derivative of Jatra and Leela denotes palying the deeds of charcters, Samaj stands for a play. Nata is a derivative term of Naya comprising in its meaning dance, music and dramatics and the word Nacha though means dance is prominent. Tamasha is a word for play, it came to be used in Orissa under the influence of Marathas and Muslims.
Orissa boasts of a long and rich cultural heritage. Due to the reigns of many different rulers in the past, the culture, arts and crafts of the state underwent many changes, imitations, assimilations and new creations, from time to time. The artistic skill of the Orissan artists is unsurpassable in the world. The discovery that traditional artists still live and work throughout Orissa, producing various objects in many media, is an exciting part of any visit to the state. Odissi dance and music has lured many to this sacred land of Lord Jagannath.