Khetriya (or – Odia: କ୍ଷତ୍ରିୟ, Hindi: क्षत्रिय, English: Kshatriya), is the second varna of Hindu Vedic Society and the martial Community/Caste in Odisha. The traditional function of the Kshatriyas is to protect society by fighting in wartime and governing in peacetime.
The natives of Khetriya Castes & it’s Sub-castes had the highest social status in Odisha till the 18th Century and second-highest Status in spiritual rituals. Khetriyas generally pledged their swords to Prabhu Jagannath in Puri but have diverse followings in Spirituality.
The Earliest known Khetriyas(Khsatriayas) in Odisha is well noted from Spiritual scriptures. The kingdom of Utkala & Kalinga were rivals. The King of Utkala was related to King Pandu and The Princess of Kalinga, Bhanumati, was married to the Kuru King Duryodhan. During the war of Mahabharata, The Khetriyas in Kalinga sided with the Kauravas, as well as the Khetriyas from Utkala, sided with the Pandavas.
The Khetriyas/Kshatriyas in Odisha fought the famous war against Maurya King Ashoka, Where the entire army of Khetriyas fought till they were martyred as noted by the Ashoka Rock Edits.
During Medieval Era, The Tri-Kalinga Khetriyas was one of the strongest armies and the last to be annexed in Eastern India. The Ganga Dynasties & Gajapati Empires were some of the most powerful Empires from Khetriyas in Odisha who successfully defended against foreign invasions and kept the prosperity of Kingdoms intact.
Khetriyas(Kshatriyas) in Odisha strictly adheres to North Indian Brahminical customs and rituals and used to be very caste-conscious in regards to marriage. However, as social reforms are being brought about, intercaste marriage not just amongst the community but also the various communities in Odisha are taking place. Marriages are followed according to a determination of one’s Gotra/lineage and Kundali/horoscope. Common Gotras are Bhardwaj, Gautama, Kashyap, Vasistha, Bachasya, Ballabhadra, or Nagashya. Though marriage within the caste was the norm, however sa-gotra (trans. within’s one clan/lineage) is generally forbidden.