State to pay tribute to Annapurna, Pratibha

Bhubaneswar: The state government has decided to bring out a special edition of its mouthpiece to pay tribute to two illustrious women – freedom fighter Annapurna Maharana and Jnanpith award winner Pratibha Ray.

Pratibha Ray is the first woman from Odisha to receive Jnanpith award for her literary works while Annapurna Maharana, who died on December 1 aged 96, participated in the freedom struggle.

Information and Public Relations Minister Arun Sahu said that the special edition would be carried both in print and web editions of Utkal Prasanga (Odia) and Odisha Review (English).

Maharana, whose parents were also freedom fighters, joined the independence struggle at the age of 14. She was a keen follower of Mahatma Gandhi and his ideology, having accompanied the great man in his historic Harijan Pada Yatra from Puri to Bhadrak in 1934.

Maharana was imprisoned at different times including once during the Quit India Movement in 1942. Besides being a freedom fighter, Maharana spent her time doing social service after Independence and worked for the uplift of women and children.

She had also taken part in the Bhoodan Movement of Acharya Vinoba Bhave.

She had set up a school in Rayagada district for tribal children.

Maharana was honoured by the Central University, Koraput recently besides being conferred with a host of awards including President of India Award, Sarala Puraskar, Utkal Ratna and Radhanath Rath Foundation Award.

Though Ray's literary journey started at nine, she got recognition as a writer with her first novel "Barsa Basanta Baishakha" in 1974 followed by novels like "Aranya", 1977, "Nishidha Prithivi", 1978, and "Parichya", 1979.

Ray's Shilapadma, 1983 won her Orissa Sahitya Academy Award, 1985 while Yajnaseni, 1984 got her Moorti Devi Award in 1991 and Sarala Award, 1990. Her books are household names in Odisha.