Danda Nata or Danda Jatra is one of the most important traditional dance festivals organized in different parts of South Odisha and particularly in the Ganjam District, the heartland of ancient Kalinga Empire. The Danda Nata festival is being held in the month of Chaitra of every year. As per Ram Prasad Tripathy's article, it is an ancient festival of the Kalinga kingdom and still alive in and around the ancient Kalinga capital Sampa/Samapa i.e modern day Ganjam District. The Participants of Danda are called Danduas (also known as Bhoktas) and they pray Goddesses Kali and Shiva during this 13-, 18- or 21-day Danda period.
Danda begins on an auspicious day before the Chaitra Sankranti or Meru Parba with traditional worship and fasting. The total number of days for the festival is 13, 18 or 21 days. Only male persons take part in this festival. The participants are known as the 'Bhoktas'. All the `Bhoktas` or 'Danduas' lead a very pious life for all these days during the festival and they avoid eating meat, fish or cohabiting during this period.