Op-Ed: Rajo vs. Raja: The Debate Storms Social Media

Raja the premier festival of Odisha, celebrating menstruation is still around a month to come this year, but the social media is abuzz with a campaign that sets to denounce the word Rajo itself. The campaign which has started just few days back has been a huge hit in social media as more and more people are coming from all walks of life to support it. Pleasingly enough, people are showing interest in posing with a placard which mentions #rajonuhanraja, and clicking pictures as well as posting it on their social media timeline as a gesture of participation.

Tampering with Odia language and giving advertisement in erroneous spelling is becoming regular in Odia newspapers and TV channels and this really amplifies during festive occasions. Even though people showed their resentment against this atrocity on Odia language, yet a collective amplified voice is never heard. But this time, the like-minded Odias have come forward to vent their anguish and thus internet is taken by storm with people posing, clicking and posting. Even Odias who are staying in distance places like Abu Dhabi, New Zealand, Australia and even from Spain have shared similar photos on their timeline. In Odisha, working professionals, school children, celebrities, common people have stood up with the placard and requested the people to write Raja as Raja not Rajo.

The campaign which started with a post of a protestor, posing before a hoarding which writes Raja as Rajo in Rupali Square in Bhubaneswar has come a long way in just a week. Around 500 people have shared the post linked with the campaign. More than 1000 likes and 400 comments on different posts speak volumes about the movement. Many have joined and many others have committed to join the campaign.

The campaign is dubbed to be the biggest online campaign in social media for Odia language and sets to transform the way we write Raja and Puja. With corporate houses erroneously writing the words, and media houses remaining silent on the issue as they get huge advertising revenue from these corporate houses, the netizens have resorted to online campaign this time. A campaign which has started with a lone post from an individual is becoming a people’s movement. National and international celebrities, columnists, people from media fraternity all have joined this movement and pledging their support to it. The campaign has also got support from Facebook groups such as ‘googly odisha’ and Facebook news service and many stalwarts are supporting the cause.

Quoting Debi Ray, the former president of Utkal University students’ union; the campaign is very symbolic as it is not against any business institutions or business houses; it is rather against the mindset which has accepted the word Rajo without even questioning it. “While we have been writing Raja since long, very recently a tendency has been observed to write it as Rajo. Who turned Raja to Rajo needs to be explored. We are requesting people to reject Rajo, the word itself,” said Ray.

Sabir Bux, who has been a flag bearer of this campaign, says it’s just not about a word. “It’s about a campaign which calls for collective response and collective participation. We should participate in this campaign so that nobody takes and tweaks our language the way they desire. We must all rise and deliver with maximum participation,” Sabir reiterated.

While many have supported the campaign, there are also a handful of people who are clueless about how the word will be pronounced if it’s not Rajo. If it is written as Raja, which means king in English it is most likely to create confusion. Hence, they have resorted to Rajo. However, the campaign supporters have their logic too.

“There are many English words with multiple meanings. For example words like ‘Book’ and ‘Key’ are used by Odias for different purposes. But we never get confused with the meaning when the context is represented. Similar logic can be used here” said one of the supporters.

Whatever may be the outcome of the battle, the debate is certainly going to gain traction in the cyber world at least until the event is celebrated in Odisha with gaiety this year.

(DISCLAIMER: This is an opinion piece. The views expressed are author’s own and have nothing to do with OTV’s charter or views. OTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same).