Odisha -Where’s That?

Was going through the 30th July 2012 issue of the ‘Outlook’ magazine. It has several articles celebrating 80 years of Indian Cricket. I am not a huge fan of cricket but my husband has always loved the game. He was so excited about enrolling Ahren.

By Aug 17,2012  40

Was going through the 30th July 2012 issue of the ‘Outlook’ magazine. It has several articles celebrating 80 years of Indian Cricket. I am not a huge fan of cricket but my husband has always loved the game. He was so excited about enrolling Ahren into the cricket academy yesterday that I decided to read out to him a list of 80 trivia about Indian cricket from the magazine. Joy Bhattacharya, the director of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) writes in trivia number 22 “Tinnu Yohannan is technically the first player from Kerala to play a Test.”

Hello, Mr Bhattacharya, why list that and not Debasish Mohanty who was the first player from Odisha to play a Test? What do I have against Kerala? Nothing. Some of my closest friends are from Kerala. But why list that and not Odisha’s first Test player? What do YOU have against Odisha?

Why am I being so touchy, you ask? Because of the image people paint about Odisha.

In1999, when we had just shifted to Delhi, an employee from Godrej who had come to repair my fridge noticed I was speaking with my daughter in a language that he was not familiar with. The inquisitive young man in his twenties asked me which language it was. I told him it was Odia and that we belonged to Odisha. He asked about its location. I explained that it was a state near Bengal and Bihar. “Tab toh aapne kabhi fridge nahin dekhi hogi?” he asked. When I asked him why he thought so, he said, “Wahan toh bahut garibi hogi…batti nahin hoti hogi…fridge kaise chalegi?” Young man, my family had a Kalinga fridge even before you and I were born! And it was not only functional in an Odia household, it was even built in a refrigerator factory in Jobra, Odisha.

In early 2000, we met a school teacher in Delhi who ridiculed the way Lalloo Prasad Yadav spoke on TV. “He is so uncouth,” she said, “Your chief minister.” I replied, “But he is the chief minister of Bihar and we are from Odisha.” “Isn’t it the same state?” she asked in astonishment. Remember, she was a school teacher in a government school here in Delhi and taught Geography, out of all subjects. Pity how her students fared! You remember this incident don’t you, Nandita Mohanty?

That was then and in 2012, I expected school teachers in Delhi to know better. To my utter disappointment, nothing has changed since then. My children study in one of the better known schools of East Delhi. My daughter’s social studies teacher(class 9) was teaching them about tribal communities in India and was citing an example about Odisha. Thank God, she knew Odisha was a separate state and it had its own entity! But she went on to say Odisha had the largest number of tribals. It was basically a tribal state with people living in utter poverty. Even today Odisha has no proper communication channels or adequate transport facilities, she added. She said that the state had no rail connectivity and that it had no airport. How ill-informed these people are?

Why does a Bengali start talking to me in Bangla the moment I mention I am from Odisha? Why is it that I am expected to understand and speak Bangla while you ‘merely understand Odia’? Why can’t we talk in Odia instead of Bangla? My friend, I do not just understand and speak Bangla. I can even read Bangla. I take pride in that. But I will not talk to a Bengali in Bangla if she does not speak to me in Odia. Let’s communicate in Hindi or English instead! You think I am being arrogant? So be it!

For the people who ask me if I speak ‘Odishi’, all I can say is “Get educated.”

Who is responsible for people outside the state being so ill-informed about Odisha? Us! Why do we not question it when Joy Bhattacharya writes about the first Test player from Kerala and not about the first Test player from Odisha who as a debutant in International cricket dismissed none other than Sanath Jayasuriya ?

When the “Mile sur mera tumhara to sur baney humara” video was shot, why did we portray Odisha as a land of scantily clad tribals and not one that hosts the Proof and Experimental Establishment of the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) at Chandipur which is the oldest establishment under the DRDO and the Integrated Test Range which is the test range for the most sophisticated space missiles from India?

Or the temples of Odisha which have their distinct architectural designs to talk about…distinct from the South Indian as well as the North Indian temple architecture? Or the world famous Puri Rath Yatra for the kind of human crowd it attracts each year? Or the Chilka Lake for its annual avian visitors from far off countries?

That brings up another question…why do we always suggest only Puri, Konark and Chilka as Odisha’s tourist destinations? Odisha is so much more…Why not publicize enough about the amazing stalagmite caves of Gupteshwar for its gigantic Shiva Linga that keeps increasing in size over time?

Why not educate non-Odias that the Rourkela Steel Plant is India’s first integrated steel plant in the public sector and that the glass that they drink water from every few hours could very well have been made from steel produced in Odisha? Or talk of the Hirakud dam, one of the longest dams in the world? Or the Duduma waterfalls…one of the highest waterfalls in India? Or the scenic beauty of the Daringbadi hill station?

Odia culture is so much more refined than the cultures of most states in India. Odissi dance is the oldest surviving dance form in India with an unbroken tradition of over 2000 years. There are only 5 main branches of Indian classical music and Odramagadhi or Odissi is one of them. Why don’t we tell people outside Odisha that Sambalpuri is not the only handloom textile Odisha has to offer? We also produce the finest ikat at Nuapatna, tassar silk at Barpali, and Berhampuri pata at Padmanavpur.

Maybe by nature, Odias are not the showy kind! They love to maintain a low profile.

But wake up Odia Bhai o Bhaunimaane, it is an age of publicity..of making your presence felt.

Unless we get up and speak for our state, who else is going to?

Contributed By : Natasha Das

Natasha Das is born and educated in Cuttack, a medical writer based in Delhi since the 90s. She is actively involved in health awareness programs and loves being an Odia !


Ek Tha Tiger: Tiger, uski Tigress and Dishum Dishum


Nukkad Natak

  • Serves the Ignorant ones in the right way! A write that everyone from Odisha ought to read!

  • A definite read for all Odias…should be a lesson for all of us….

  • Regulus A. Black

    Stop this rambling, misdirected rant. Why would the editors of this e-zine want to publish is difficult to understand? This is how integrity is lost.

  • Aman Saurav

    beautiful . u infact amazed me even when i am odisha. now i can snap back at people who think odisha as though nothing.

  • Well, in certain circles. it’s a cool place to go to. Also, here in Mumbai, you get all the Odiya channels on cable.

  • thumbs up!
    good job! totally agree… 🙂

  • lyfzmix

    @5532e26c7a007ef79ce9fd9e1beb2d91:disqus integrity ?? what integrity are you talking about ? we odia ppl have lost our way in glorifying ourselves . also many times i have noticed odia’s( mostly teenagers ) trying to break the ice in hindi , english with odias.

  • lyfzmix

    also the world famous rasgulla actually originated from odisha , sad rest of the world think’s that it is West bengal .

  • well said Natasha! we are not showy and may be this is becoming the greatest problem to express our identity clearly.

  • Somanath Tripathy

    Yeah! We need to make our presence felt in the whole country.
    “Bande utkala janani” 🙂

  • really very nice article, i m aslo feel same always, why they not recognised ? and one things i want to add the leaning temple huma,sambalpur.

  • e write up bohut hi badhiya. Au mote khusi laguchi je etaku padhila pare mote laaja laguni. Kaarana e samasya mu aguru bhi bhogichi au garbita odiya bhaliya kaama karichi! Mu Odiya … eta janila pare mote pacharanti …Bangali aase? Mu kuhe mote aase kintu mu kahibini…kahinki kahibi? khali bangali mananka ego bancheiba pain? ebe odiya aguku asiba… mili misi kaama karile nischaya hi asiba… Bande Utkala Janani!!
    (This write up is really nice. After reading this I feel really happy that I’m not ashamed of myself coz I’m on right track. I’ve faced the aforementioned problem earlier. When people learn that I’m Odiya they ask if I know bengali…I reply ” I do but I don’t until its really necessary. Why should I? ”
    I believe Odisha will come forward soon….If we work together it is not a distant dream!
    Bande Utkala Janani!! )

  • A N Nanda

    Well, the other day the president of the Indian Chamber of Commerce of Coimbatore I happened to meet commented: Now whole of Tamil Nadu is being ruled by Odiyas. What he meant by that was, beginning with the Chief Secretary there are too many officers from Odisha that are in top posts in Tamil Nadu. I felt happy.

    I wonder if India has ever produced a politician as tall and as versatile as Biju Babu, Biju Pattanaik!

    Comparatively speaking, the temples of Orissa has elegance and grandeur whereas those in here are cluttered outwardly with all and sundry gods and goddesses riding atop their gopuram.

    Rosogulla of Kolkata was adapted from those in Orissa–even diehard Begalis would admit. And those dance drama of Tagore too.
    A N Nanda

  • Akanksha

    Eyi lkha ta padhiki mana ta khushi hei gala. Jouta mu aaji jaye samastan’ku janeyibaku chanhuthili, seita apana, ati sundar bhasa re lekhi prakat kari chhanti. Ta paeen bahut bahut dhanyabaad. 🙂

  • ansuman mohapatra

    awesome work!!!
    we directly need to react to people who do not know about odisha and the most important thing that we lack in is publicity and proper communication about ourselves…we need to first know about ourselves and our great things and we need to uplift our confidence level…

  • odiagal

    9 years back i visited gangtok n stayed at a hotel.the owner started a conversation wid dad n asked ver we belonged to..dad told him that we are odia n he had least idea as to who odias are!!i heard dis and i was so moved!1only when dad told him abt puri rath yatra did he recognise d place!!gudness gracious111

  • One straight- from- the-heart write up! Good job Natasha! 🙂

  • Swarup

    We should not take the ignorance of Delhiwallas to heart. They are very yankee in their knowledge of geography – a world outside Delhi hardly exists.
    Anyways – Odisha is gradually coming to the fore and this process will accelerate in the years to come. There is no need to change our basic characteristics – of maintaining a low profile, just to hammer knowledge in the ignorant heads.

  • Arvind

    Completely Agree with you Natasha Madam, But …have a bit of hesitation accepting that odiyas are not showy..in nature.. Not at least now a days… we usually spent 4/5 times more expenses for our holiday trips..to visit places out of odisha..though some times it is due to time bound issues ..in our day to day activity. But the question here is …are we really giving the same importance …to our own state..its scenic beauty…its Typical Temple ..architecture ..out culture..? How many of us really respect the rules in a tourist place in odisha..to keep it clean.. disciplined..for the visitors? Of Course the initiative should be taken by govt..to do more publicity, provide more options..like small market places…boarding and lodging till it comes to a pace of competition..But still i stand with the point..as We Odiya..cant just debate every time ..as proud to be an odiya…we have to grow the pride by our own individual…have to take the initiative to respect our state..Enjoy with our So precious scenic beauty..then people will get convinced…that we are not exactly from a state as described….
    How many People really are interested to go for a live odishi Show..until its out side our state or Country…(Its simply the proof of the proverb – Gaon Kania Singhani Naki).

    I personally sharing one experience ..of my family visit to Sanaghagara.. (Hope many of you heard about this picnic spot in Keonjhar). It is really an awesome place for family outing and picnic beyond comparison to the places we are going now a days..so called sophisticated outings..
    But if you will visit this place during some holidays especially in month of Dec u will just find out the complete place scattered with polythene Carry bags, food wastage and many more things…If some one will come to visit here..what impression he/she will have it..?Cant always be a part of blame game to decide whose responsibility it is..!
    I even saw some comments about Claming Rasgulla..either really an odiya sweet..or a Bengali one.. It can go over a never ending argument..but the truth is, How you claim it…how we showcase our states Unity and Dignity….how we demonstrate it to others…

    Lets all Odiyas know where Odisha is…then can educate others.. 🙂

  • Narayan

    I even remember odias telling the odia part in Mile sur mera tumhara to sur baney humara is not odia but Asamees, we odias are the cause for our status.

  • Hats off….

  • Sagar S

    Pretty much agree with what this article speaks about. It is a heart felt concern and there is no denying it.

    Having said that, I also empathize with the write for being candid about OUR (The Odia’s) lack of efforts in changing the scenario. More work needs to be done on that front.

  • suravi

    just love this article.. i can guess ur feeling when somebody do nt know abt odisha.. i have d same exp 🙁

  • Aditi, an inspired Odia :)

    You write passionately without sounding arrogant. I love your blog 🙂

  • Satya-Mumbai

    Hats up to writer. Probably the first to bring this issue of ignorance about Odisha/Orissa in India Keep up the good work. Like you I love/take pride being Odia and dream of returning back to my native place Old Bhubaneswar one day!!

  • rita

    Very good article…really delhites need to get demselves educated…i wonder had de ever studied geography in school..or do dey hv slightest knowledge beyond fashion and fatty foods??..
    its nt their fault only…we odiyas hv 2 do a lot 4 odisha…it really hurts seeing people (mainly teenagers) speking in hindi instead f odiya… it hurts seeing biharis n jharkhandis getting educated in odisha, earning in odisha n still insulting odisha…
    ODIA bhai o bhauni mane …be proud to b an odiya…only our efforts cn bring odisha’s lost glory back….

  • Sarmishtha

    Thank you so much for this literature. I call it literature because it’s as rich, meaningful and relevant as the word suggests. I hate this ignorance. And so true about the Bengali and not-knowing-where-Odisha is parts. And you call me backward when you don’t know basic geography of your country?! And yes, I’m proud to be an Odia too 😉 (Btw, to people who say that ‘Odia,Odisha and Odissi sound pretty much the same, I say, drop it, it’s beyond your intelligence capacity anyway )


    I really like the point you are making but in ODISHA also there is prejudice against the khosal ppl
    ppl shld recognize the identity of sambalpuriya

  • odia basinda

    i totally agree to this wondeful piece of literature.bt it is tru that we are speaking less odia,wear less sambalpuri sarees ,know less abt our cultural past and want to visit dargeeling/bangalore/mumbai …etc bt have forgotten our cities…..bt we start talking abt our state now in and we shud use every platform….

  • jayshree


  • Neha

    Hey there! actually your right. I have visited the city but knew only Konark, Puri thats it! Thank u. I will explore further now whenever I visit the state….. 🙂

  • Pallavi Patnaik

    And I have met Odia people, who when asked about where you from, say ‘ East India’….HELLO?? whts trick??? Why cant you just go say Odisha …loud and proud….the writer is correct that its Us odia people who need to go make our presence felt….and be proud of our roots….

  • Prateek

    Respected ma’am,
    the piece written by you is completely justified and backed by me.Even I, as a student ,have experienced such unfamiliar and untoward behavior towards Odias.Just 4 years back, I had been on a trip to Kashmir. 1 of the shopkeepers, on noticing my parents converse in a language unfamiliar to him,inquired of us as to where we hailed from. On hearing the name Odisha,he first asked us if that was a part of west bengal,and then,surprisingly,asked us something in Bengali.I mean, this is either ignorance or pure disrespect towards a state with a history dating more than 2 and a half millenia.OK, one may think that shopkeepers might not have enough knowledge regarding their own country,but even my friends from other states have surprisingly less ,or no knowledge about our state. The impression of an Odia in every Indian’s mind is that of a tribal who has never seen or heard of any technological tool or electronic device.That being said,enough Odias have made their presence felt in the national and international arena.Dilip Tirkey,Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra,Sudarshan Pattnaik…isn’t it high time that our brothers and sisters from other states realized the power of an Odia,or maybe they will do so when Odisha shows its true potential in every field……….

    • ccparasad

      Would like to share 2 incidents
      1. one of our neighbours asked my mom where my dad worked…when told that he worked for OSEB, he asked if Orissa was in Bengal! to which my mom retorted back -How can be a State be within a state? Incidentally the neighbor son studied in one of the top schools of Delhi and whose 2 daughters were Air Hostess!

      Second case came around the super cyclone when hearing about Orissa being hit , a neighbour whose husband was in the shipping industry asked ‘Odisha mein samunder kahan hai?”

  • Ritesh

    Proud to be an Odia. Always was. Always will be.

  • Emo gurl

    Great job Ms Natasha!!! Really appreciate a lot. but seriously we Odia’s are not very proud of our culture, I guess,coz we hardly speak in Odia . We guys remember Halloween and thanks giving but not Karthik Purnima or Rajo.
    I stay in Bangalore and have a similar experience as you. People ask me if I have been ” ACTUALLY” born and brought up in Odisha,because I do not have a MTI problem when I speak English. People ask me if I speak any other language apart form “ODISHI”. They have the notion that people from my state hardly know how to communiate in English.People have actually asked me if I can speak ” HINDI”,if I have visited any other place apart from Odisha.
    They ask me if people back in my hometown wear jeans and t-shirt. They think we are a poor state and most of the people are BPL. They refer to Odisha as “GAON”-village. I feel helpless in such situation’s.
    There is a Jagannath Temple here in Bangalore,but people do not have the time to visit it,but they have all the time in the world to visit Tirupati temple and Sai temple and what not.
    Anyways hope we Odia’s learn to take pride in our language and culture.
    P:S- I am writing my comment in English and not ODIA,eccentric,isn’t it???

  • Swapnesh Panda

    I am in Madhya Pradesh.. People here think that Odisha is inside MP… What a shame… And people here think that Odisha consists of 2 Cities… Bhubaneswar and Cuttack…

  • sabu kanra katha padhili kintu ame odia mane jete jaen nije odia haba upare garba anubhav na karibu odia ku national map re ta dekhibu kintu nationally loka chinhi paribeni.Mun madhey delhi re ruhe kintu odia society eithi active nahin kintu bengali mane tankara society rakhichenti…mo saha kete odia loke kama karanti kintu odia re katha heba pasand karanti nahin..sethi pain jadi ame nija nija bhitare odia sanskruti ebam jagannath sanskruti ku banchai na rakhiba aau taku madhye bistaara na kariba sete jaen odia aau odisha na loke chinhibe nahin…jai jagannath

  • soumya

    Awesome. Just posting or sharing this one will answer so many questions that ppl have asked me time and again. Proud to be Odia.

  • Manish patel

    You mean to say that except odias all others are illetrate?
    This is due to Odias who when moves to other states fells shame on being odia. If they will be proud of it then surely it will be better. If odisha will be developed then people will know about it.

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