A GOLDEN PAST
by Team Coffee Bytes
There is a huge buzz in the air as the state of Odisha braces up to celebrate ‘Utkal Divas’ on 1st April, in view of it’s 81 years of independence as a state. On the same day in the year 1936, the modern state of Odisha was carved out of British Bengal comprising of modern day Puri, Balasore, Cuttack, Sambalpur, Koraput and Ganjam districts with Cuttack being the capital of the province. But not everyone is aware that Odisha boasts of a history as rich as that of India, if not more.History and research suggest that Kalinga finds reference even in ancient scriptures like the ‘Mahabharata’. The land has witnessed and absorbed many bloody invasions, including the famous Kalinga war against Emperor Ashoka of the Mauryan Dynasty, the Mughals and the Marathas. The first armed revolt against the British also originated in Odisha in 1817, in the form of the Paika revolution and the contribution of Odia freedom fighters in our freedom struggle in the 1900s is equally significant. Odias have always stood up for the honour of their motherland and ‘Bande Utkala Janani’ is an apt salutation to this great land. During the British regime, ‘Bihar and Odisha’ was a province which included present day Bihar, Jharkhand and a part of Odisha. The province was under Bengal Presidency. On April 1st,1912, it got separated from the Bengal Presidency. The cumulative efforts of Madhusudan Das, Gopabandhu Das, Maharaja Sir Krushna Chandra Gajapati, Pandit Nilakantha Das, Fakir Mohan Senapati, Gangadhar Meher, Basudeba Sudhaladeba, Radhanath Ray, Bhubananada Das, Sir A.P.Patro and many others in the form of an agitation spanning over 50 years, finally compelled the British to recognize Odisha as a separate state in the year 1936, two years after Madhu babu’s death. We all have extensively read a b o u t t h e a g i t a t i o n s carried out by the Utkal Sammilani but do you know about the first round table conference, between November 1930 to January 1931, where an emphatic speech was made by Maharaja Sir Krushna Chandra Gajapati, which
in turn was supported by Sir A. P. Patro a member from the Madras Presidency delegation. This speech was the first major victory for the people of Odisha who had been demanding a separate Odia state. It made the British realize, that Odisha was a region which had a completely different identity to that of Bengal or Bihar, both culturally and linguistically as well. Thanks to the efforts of the Utkal Sammilani and t h e I n d i a n National Congress, along with the research that was done by the British archaeologists and linguists, proved one thing beyond doubt that Odisha, its people, it’s culture and the language were distinctly different from that of Bengal, Bihar or the Madras Presidency. On 16th of January 1931, Maharaja Sir Krushna Chandra Gajapati, the Raja of Parlakimedi rose to address the conference and led the British into thinking about creating a separate Province for the Oriya speaking people. (The full speech is provided alongside) Five years from that fateful day, when the speech was delivered the modern state of Odisha was formed. I hope every Odia reads this speech carefully since it is quite significant even in today’s times to appreciate the conditions under which we wrested our freedom and it should always be respected in letter and spirit. On November 9th 2010, Indian Parliament rechristened Orissa to Odisha and Oriya to Odia. Today the Odia community which is spread all over the world celebrates Utkala Divas in their own unique way in addition to the decorative look that all the government buildings wear on this day. Even in Singapore, Odias are closely connected with each other through SingOdia (Odia Society of Singapore),. Which also convenes the Utkal Divas event there. “Janani Janma bhoomischa Swargadapi Gariyasi” is a Sanskrit sloka uttered by Lord Rama, which means ‘mother and motherland are superior to heaven.’ Even at a personal level, it is time we stopped thinking about what Odisha has done for us and think about what we have done for Odisha, our motherland ! Be proud to be an Odia….Jai Odisha ❏
Mo Odisha! Aama Odisha !
by Anjana Tripathy
As we gear up to extol Utkal Divas, yet again on the 1st of April, I think the best way for a non Odia like me to pay my tribute to this culturally-rich state would be to not sing paeans in praise of it’s history, diverse social background and heritage, meaningful customs and traditions, the state’s sensuous dance form, Odissi, artistic temples, sculpture, music and food, but by penning down some of the exceedingly positive aspects of Odisha and the Odia community that I have come across over these years. The people of Odisha, have always been the kind to fight and rise against all odds. Remember the Kalinga War, where even the most feeble of the peasants drew swords against the mighty but tyrant Mauryan emperor and resisted, instead of buckling under his power. I have been an eye-witness to the Never-Say-Die spirit of the Odia population during the incidences of several natural calamities like The Super Cyclone, Phailin and HudHud. Grounded, simple and unassuming, the people have been extremely hospitable and have gone often out on their way to help me out of adverse circumstances. A typical Odia individual, irrespective of his social status will respect a woman, whether Odia or Non-Odia. Me, being a woman, I not only related closely to this approach of the Odia brigade but, it also helped me feel comfortable and put me at ease, when destiny brought me to this incredible land of temples and sublime nature, now also, ‘my home away from home’ ! So, here I go – Hail Odisha! ; “Aama Odisha!”