Odisha - The Land Slightly Unknown!

4 minutes read

It’s quite an obvious phenomenon to encounter questions from people on something that they don’t know or they know quite a little about! And, this is probably why I encounter these questions; “how is Odisha? how’s its culture like? what’s special over there?” and on. And, this ultimately triggered me to write this post, Odisha - The land slighlty unknown! So, if you are interested to know about my state Odisha, go on. I believe, you would find it interesting while you get to learn about this wonderful state and its people.

Currently there are 29 states and 7 union territories in India, Odisha being one of the states in the eastern India. It has an area span of about 155 thousand square kilometers (9th largest of the states in India) and the population being a moderately decent 4.5 crores (approx). It is surrounded by the states of West Bengal to the north-east, Jharkhand to the north, Chhattisgarh to the west and north-west, and Telangana, Andhra Pradesh to the south and south-east. Odisha has 485 kilometres (301 mi) of coastline along the Bay of Bengal on its east, from Balasore to Ganjam. Bhubaneswar is the state capital, which along with Jamshedpur and Chandigarh, was one of modern India’s first planned cities. Bhubaneswar in itself has over one thousand temples, earning the tag of the ‘Temple City of India’. There are a total of 30 districts in the state of Odisha, having many similarities and dissimilarities in lifestyle, slang, land etc. This being the basic geography and demography of the state, the state is also one of the largest producers of electricity and steel in the country.

Moreover, Odisha is much about a cultural religion called “Odia”. Yeah, nothing to get much confused about. Let me state it clearly and precisely; the language, the culture, the people of Odisha, are all referred to by the same word “Odia”.

Odia language is recognized as one of the classical languages of India, other than Tamil, Sanskrit, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam.

Odisha boasts its culture from an ancient glorious history of the “Utkala”. Yeah, it’s the same word that comes up in India’s national anthem. Utkala is one of the former names of Odisha, other popular ones being “Kalinga”, “Udra Desha”. The etymology behind the name “Utkala” is as follows.

The early medieval literature says “उत्कृष्ट कलायाः देशः यः सः उत्कलः “. Means the land which has excellent opulence of artists and art is called Utkala (Kala=Art, Utkrishta=Excellent); land of Utkrishta Kala.

Some live examples that one can witness to realize glory of this amazing land called Utkala, are like: Odissi Dance, Puri Jagannath Temple, Khandagiri-Udaygiri caves, Konark Sun Temple, Sambalpuri and Berhampuri Sarees, Pattachitra (paintings), Sand Art, The Folk music, The Classical music and so on. The list is countably infinite. There is an Odia proverb “bara mase tera parba”, which means thirteen festivities in the span of twelve months. Yes, there are thirteen major festivities that are celebrated across the state. Some select ones are, Rath Yatra (celebrating Jagannath’s magical visit to his aunt’s), Raja Sankranti (celebrating womanhood), Odia Naba Barsha (new year celebrations according to the Sanatan Panjika), Manabasa Gurubara ( a whole month of festivities worshiping Maa Lakshmi). Among the tweleve months, a month named “Kartika” is considered to be the holiest month of the year. People participate in various holy events and most stop eating non-vegetarian food for that holy period. Within “Kartika”, five days are denoted as “Panchuka” which are the holiest days of the year, during which even fully non-vegetarian fish eating birds like crane, spoonbill, egret are considered to be staying on fast for that period.

The state being relatively underexposed to the industrial revolutions in the last few decades, succeeds in retaining the nature-life balances. However, it has been a victim of cyclones every other year thanks to the raising pollution across the country. Even after facing these frequent natural calamities, the state keeps moving ahead, the people and its culture are inherently strong and motivated in leading the life.

The food taste in Odisha is quite simple and sober. It has its own magic in it, thanks to the minimalistic approach. The spices are minimal and fully traditional, leading to healthier food. Rice being one of the prime constituents of the general meal, some popular cuisines include, “Dalama”, “Santula”, “Besara”, “Ghanta tarakari” etc. “Jhal mudi” (spiced bhel) is one of the most popular snacks around the state.

Some of the most delicious sweets include, the world famous “Rassogola” (originally originated from Odisha), “Chhena Poda”,” Arisa”, “Kakara” etc.

Some of the eminent personalities who are somehow related to Odisha includes, Subhas Ch. Bose (born in Cuttack), V.V. Giri (born in Brahmapur, 4th President of India), Alan Turing (his parents were then living in Bihar-Odisha province and conceived him :P).

Well, this was an attempt to put a light on what Odisha is and has been. I hope you had a great read. But, let me clearly state that this was just a curtain raiser. Film toh abhi baaki hai mere doost. I would put a sequel to this post in the near future, with details of some really magical stuff.

Thank you! Keep visiting!

Here are some wonderful snaps that depict my text into reality, please do have a look!

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