Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

While ‘Pakhala Dibasa’ was celebrated across the globe on Monday for glorifying classic Odia cuisine ‘Pakhala’-the fermented water rice, State Language, Literature and Culture Minister Aswini Kumar Patra, Odisha Tourism Development Corporation (OTDC) Chairman Lenin Mohanty and some other BJD leaders drew flak from linguists and Opposition BJP for allegedly insulting Odia language.

As per reports, ‘Pakhala Dibasa’ was organised by OTDC at Panthanivas in Bhubaneswar on Monday in which Patra, Mohanty and some other BJD leaders were present.

However, during the celebration, it was found that ‘Pakhala Dibasa’ was written in English instead of Odia on the banners and posters displayed on the stage.

When asked about the reason behind writing ‘Pakhala Dibasa’ in English, Minister Patra said, “There is no importance in written language. It doesn’t matter in which language one writes.”

“Language unites human beings and the world. As per my experience, languages like Odia and English have no importance. In Bengal, ‘Pakhala’ is known as ‘Panta Bhat’. So language has no importance. We should adopt the food to be active and energetic,” said Patra.

When asked about classical status of Odia language, Patra evaded the question by saying that the question is not relevant today and he will deliberate upon it on some other occasion.

However, ‘Pakhala Dibasa’ being written in English and Patra’s statement didn’t go down well with many linguists and the Opposition BJP in the State.

Reacting to Patra’s statement, linguist Pradyumna Satpathy said that he is surprised by the development.

“I am surprised by Patra’s statement. He himself is speaking a lot of English words. He is giving statements with an unbalanced mind and his statements are doing a lot of harm to Odisha’s interest. Nothing more is expected from him. I highly condemn his statement,” said Satpathy.

“When ‘Pakhala Dibasa’ has emerged as the pride of Odisha and is celebrated across the globe, it is quite unfortunate that our Language, Literature and Culture Minister doesn’t know the importance and significance of language,” added Satpathy.

Meanwhile, BJP demanded that the minister should withdraw his statement and seek an apology from the people of Odisha.

“All of us know that Odisha was formed in 1936 as the first linguistic-based State in the country. It is quite unfortunate that a minister from the State doesn’t know the importance of language. We demand that the minister should withdraw his statement and seek an apology from the people of Odisha,” said BJP spokesperson Biranchi Narayan Tripathy.