Of all the states in India, our state of Odisha is considered to be one of the most backward ones. All the people up north find our language funny, our food too tasteless, our land too dirty & our people too foolish & traditional. But that’s not the sad part. People tend to make fun of something that they don’t understand. The sad part is, we Odias laugh along with them. We never act defensive or try to improve the opinion of our state, of our beautiful language. Think about it. How many Odias will actually fight for what people think of our state? People from other states will find a way to praise their culture in any way they can. We, on the other hand, are so engrossed in listening to other people criticise our culture that we have forgotten how beautiful it actually is. We have so much to be proud of!
Our majestic Jagannath Temple in Puri is one of the char dhams which every Hindu intends to visit at least once. This architectural wonder from the 11th century still stands tall at its peak of glory. The Konark Sun Temple built in the 13th century is one of the most spectacular monuments of religious significance. The Chilika Lake with its impressive dolphins and migratory birds is the largest brackish water lake in the whole of Asia. The beautiful white sand at our beaches with the soothing roar of the ocean close by is an escape to heaven for everyone. The Bhitarkanika National Park is one of the most impressive wildlife sanctuaries of Asia. Our beautiful dance of Odissi is sure to mesmerize anyone’s attention. Our language is one of the classical languages of our country. Even the simple dish of pakhala with its magical sleep-inducing powers is something to be proud of. I could go on & on, but then, the list would never end.
Our humble state has also contributed some of the most remarkable men in our country. Our history is full of great men like Biju Patnaik, Madhusudan Das & many more who have fought to make Odisha recognized as a free state. The intricate skilled carvings & designs on our temples & sculptures are clear evidences of our highly skilled artisans & craftsmen. We have also produced some great writers like Dr. Manoj Das, known all over the nation & beyond for his gripping & touching stories. Nobody can deny the skill of the famous sand artist Sudarshan Patnaik, whose sand masterpieces can be seen everywhere on the beaches of Puri.
Our state is a treasure house of the greatest heritage & personalities in the nation & beyond. And yet, we Odias ignore all of it & continue to dwell upon all the things that are wrong with our state. Of course, everything has its ups & downs. But we have to recognize both the good & the bad things about a place. And if we do find something that we don’t like, it’s our own responsibility to change that. After all, you have to be the change that you want to see in the world.
A lot of people have complaints that our state is too polluted & filthy. Well, sitting at home & complaining about it doesn’t change anything. After all, who has polluted this beautiful place? Who has defaced our historical monuments & littered in our rivers? We ourselves. Instead of criticising others, we have to get out there & take it as our own responsibility to make our state a better place to live in.
Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, also known as the City of Temples, has been selected in the first position to be converted into a smart city under the initiative taken by our most respected Prime Minister. But how do we get smart? Do you think high-tech buildings & free Wi-Fi is smart enough? No. A place can never truly be smart if it doesn’t have smart people. What good is better infrastructure if people are just going to urinate & spit on the walls? What good are green parks if people are going to litter in them? What good are nice roads if women can’t walk on them after sunset without a constant fear in their hearts? While factors like infrastructure & technology are indeed very important for a smart city, I believe that real smartness begins from within ourselves. We have to be smart & make our state smart.
So, on the occasion of Utkal Divas, let’s all take a pledge. A pledge to be proud of what our state is & try our hardest to make it better every day. Let’s all be proud Odias & contribute to the place that has taught us the importance of humility & simplicity. No matter how far you go, home will always be home. Nothing can change that. Let’s not become a tree which grows so tall that it forgets its roots is still planted in the ground. Let’s respect this magnificent place & be proud of the fact that we belong here.
Happy Utkal Divas to each & every one of you & lets be proud of our beautiful state, Odisha.