Orissa is known for its respect and mutual tolerance towards other religions. One can vividly witness how religion in Orissa has evolved from animism, nature worship, shamanism, ancestor worship & fethism to the highly evolved forms of religion like Hinduism, Islam, Christianism, Buddhism and Jainism. However, the religion followed by a major proportion of the population of the state is Hinduism.
Among the states of India, Orissa has perhaps the highest concentration of the Hindus, although all other religions have their followers in it. In 1971, the Hindus formed 92 per cent of the total population; the Muslims, Christians and Buddhists forming 1.5, 1.7 and. 04 per cent respectively. The balance is accounted for by the other religions including the tribal religion of Sarana followed mostly by the Santals. Orissa is a land of religious tolerance and the people belonging to different religions and faiths live harmoniously, often within the same village.
The synthesis & harmony of the different forms of Brahminic worship Vaishnavite, Shaivite, Shakta, Ganapatya are all to be found in the great and grand temple of Jagannath or whose origin goes back to the tribal worship of Wood God. Around him, resolves the entire cultural milieu of Orissa. Religion & culture cannot be separated in a land, which claims to celebrate thirteen festivals in twelve month.
The most commendable thing about Orissa is that, there is unity in diversity. People belonging to different religions and castes live harmoniously and there is a feeling of brotherhood amongst them.
Even if the most dominant religion in Orissa is Hinduism still Orissa is the second state in India after Bihar, in which Buddhism has flourished a lot. Another religion that has made a great impact on the religious lifestyles of the people of the state is Jainism. The best examples of Jain monuments are the caves of Khandagiri and Udaygiri. The three pilgrimage cities of Bhubaneswar , Puri and Konark are worth a visit if one wants to see the depth of the religious cultural heritage of Orissa.