Being Women

The Journey Of An Odia : 5 Reasons For The Move From Ignorance To Pride

Sonali tells what makes an Odia proud of her state.

An Odia grappling with the language

As a 90’s kid, an Odia but born and brought up in Delhi, I have had my own struggles. While growing up, Odisha was my retreat during summer vacations. I would look forward to spending time with my grandparents, aunts and uncles. But what left me in a fix was the language. I would end up being a source of amusement for my relatives. For I spoke in broken Odiya. And it had a north-Indian accent. Imagine my plight! Also, I can only speak Odia, not read or write. It was much later that I realised that I am far better than other Odiya kids and peers who were not raised in Odisha. They still struggle with the language. They can understand but do not speak. Some are probably shy to do so.

How rich is my state

Over the last few years, I have become more aware of the beautiful culture that Odisha has. Be it the magnificent temples, the Jagannath cult, the Black Pagoda, the serene beaches, the delicious sweets, the rich festivals, or the hidden heritage treasures, Odisha is indeed India’s best-kept secret.

Festivals; Rich and relevant

Two of my favourite festivals are Raja and Bali Yatra. As a kid, these were just like the other festivals where I would get the chance to wear new dresses, play all day long, eat sweets, and buy toys and candies from the community fair stalls. But now I have come to realise the real essence of these festivals.

Celebration of Fertility

In a country where menstruation is still a hush-hush topic, we have Raj Mahotsav in Odisha, which equates women’s menstruation with fertility. As a mark of respect towards Mother Earth during her menstruation days, all agricultural work comes to a standstill. It is a festival that, in a way, celebrates the true beauty of womanhood.

Rich maritime history

Bali Jatra is another festival that excites me. As the name suggests, it is linked with Indonesia, reflecting India’s rich maritime history. Bali Jatra (voyage to Bali) is one of India’s largest open-air fairs that commemorates the maritime link and the cultural connection between ancient Kalinga and Southeast Asia. The Jatra begins on Kartik Purnima, an auspicious day when the winds are favourable for the boats (known as boita in Odiya) to sail. The significance of the Bali Jatra was highlighted by the Indian Prime Minister during the G20 Summit in 2022.

Scenic Dhauli

Besides the festivals, a visit to Dhauli, located amidst the now dried-up, historically important Daya River, always brings me peace. It is one of those places that calms the stressed mind, soothes the restless soul and refreshes the strained body. It’s almost like the transformation that Ashoka when through when he realised the horrors of the Kalinga war and changed from a wrathful man to a man of Dharma.

It’s a matter of pride…

A matter of considerable pride was when the Odisha State Government came forward to sponsor the Indian Hockey team. The victory of the team and the medals won by them is known to all.

Being a civil service aspirant, I was equally proud to witness the crowning ceremony of our Honourable President, Draupadi Murmu. A true daughter of India hailing from the tribal community, her meteoric rise from the tribal lands of Western Odisha to the first citizen is a tribute to the success of India’s Amrit Kaal. She is an exemplary example of a woman who fought against all odds.

Odiyas also hold imminent positions in the Government, be it the present CAG, CGA, IMD Chief, NCB Chief, Education Minister, Principal Secretary to the PM, RBI Governor, and Deputy Governor. To see people from our own land achieve great heights and bring laurels to our country is a matter of great pride.

Gone are the days when people would associate Odisha with cyclones, poverty, or just try hard to locate Odisha on the Indian map. Such ignorant people still exist. But it’s also our duty to enlighten them by highlighting various facets of the state.

To sum up, the journey from an ignorant and indifferent Odia to a curious and proud Odia has been a long one. But I haven’t stopped learning, exploring, discovering, and making memories of my alluring state, Odisha.


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3 Responses

  1. A heartwarming article. The journey is quite relatable for all those who had to migrate outside their home state.

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