Cassian Baliarsingh

Apart from holding brainstorming sessions on various important issues, OTV’s annual convention ‘Foresight 2023 – Changing Times Changing Minds’ also laid emphasis on the future of Odia language and the need to break geographical boundaries and take Odia language, tradition, and culture to global arena.

Gracing the occasion, veteran actor Siddhant Mohapatra emphasized the need to break geographical barriers to save Odia language.

“The sad reality is that emojis have taken over our culture and practice. Our Namaskar and ‘Pranam’ have been replaced with a hand-folding emoji. Slowly, we are being attracted towards sign languages,” said Mohapatra.

“Films made on celebrities like MS Dhoni, Sachin Tendulkar have not only made them popular, but also shown the places of their birth and nativity in global arena. We also have great personalities who were born in Odisha, but are not known to the outer world. We are not able to make great films that can break the geographical barriers and take our films and language across the globe. So, I agree the problem lies within us.”

“I have heard people say the songs of the 80s and the 90s were soulful and still remembered by everyone. However, songs these days try to modernize and add Hindi lyrics. Pan-India Odia movies have to be made in a great scale that it will showcase people our distinctiveness,” he added.

Speaking on the occasion Asit Mohanty maintained that sadly there is no such provision to preserve and protect ‘our age-old language and if this continues our future generations will be cut-out from our glorious past, history and tradition’.

“They will fail to understand the importance of the very foundation of our Odia language, culture and history and will be influenced by someone else’s history. Sadly, the day is not too far. So, we have to act fast before our people will not be Odias anymore and get influenced by some other language and culture,” said Asit.

“Like Swachh Bharat was made popular by Prime Minister Modiji, but our ‘Laxmi Puranas’ already had words like ‘Swachh Jiban’ and ‘Swach Paribesha’ since long, but no one knows about it. Our literatures, festivals, delicacies, traditions and culture also go a long way in breaking boundaries for our Odia language.”

“However, things are slowly changing. Odia girl Droupadi Murmu made history by becoming the President of India. Similarly, Sasikant Das is the governor of RBI. There are several other people who are trying to put Odisha in the global map, but then sadly there are people who write Siddhant instead of Siddhanta, Sudarshan instead of Sudarshana, Asit instead of Asita and Jagannath instead of Jagannatha, which is the main reason that we lag behind today,” he concluded. 

Speaking about her experience, writer Paramita Satapathy said, “I studied in JNU and I had to literally explain by fellow batchmates about Odisha. They knew about Vishakhapatnam, Kolkata, but did not know about Odisha. They could only relate to Puri.”

“However, we have come a long way now and Odisha has been doing wonders in every field,” she said.

Sand artist Sudarshan Pattnaik, whose sand arts have reached people globally, stated that there is lack of opportunities for Odia youths.

“For example, if we speak about Rasagola, i tried to make sand art on Rasagola Diwas. So, it is the duty of every Odia to do things that can save the real identity, uniqueness, individuality of Odia as a language,” said Pattnaik.

“We as a state fail to exhibit our art form, talent, films and other things in the global arena that have the potential to break the state barriers. These are among the various reasons because of which we are not able to take our language to other states,” he said.

“If a talented artist does some work in Koraput, he does not have any source to showcase his talent. He/she needs to come to Bhubaneswar and Cuttack to showcase his talent. Why can’t we create opportunities or platform for them in their native place?” Pattnaik questioned.