Odisha fka Orissa is one of the 30 states of India, located on the eastern coast. It is the 11th largest state by population, and the 3rd most populous state of India in terms of tribal communities aka Adivasi. The dominant ethnic group is the Odia people, an Indo-Aryan ethno-linguistic group of East India. Odia fka Oriya is the official and most widely spoken language, spoken by c. 35 million Orissans. Around 8 million of these people belong to the Scheduled Tribes which refers to specific indigenous peoples whose status is acknowledged to some formal degree by national legislation. Officially known as Adivasi they constitute c. one quarter of Orissa’s total population.
The Kondha tribe is the largest tribe of Orissa in terms of population. They consist of about one million people and are based mainly in the Kandhamal and adjoining districts namely Rayagada and Koraput. The Santhal people with a population over 500,000 inhabit the Mayurbhanj district. The Saura populace of over 300,000 are a tribal community in the Rayagada district and in specific pockets of the Koraput and Gajapati districts.
The majority (over 90 %) of people in the state of Odisha are Hindus. Christians in Odisha account for c. 5 % of the entire population while Odia Muslims account for c. 3 %. The Sikh, Buddhist and Jain communities together account for c. 2 % of the population. Large sections of the indigenous tribes follow Sarnaism, their indigenous natural religion.
Portrait photographs of Orissans from all walks of life in Matt Hahnewald's