Celebrating the Glorious Past: Utkal Diwas
The importance of rising above the barriers of oppression in order to give birth to a state with a rich cultural and linguistic heritage is what defines the formation of Odisha and the celebration of its birth, the Utkal Diwas. Ever since the formation of Odisha state, which was carved out of the combined Bengal-Bihar-Odisha province in 1936, Utkal Diwas is observed on the 1st of April to celebrate the glory and gusto associated with it.
The 83rd Foundation Day of Odisha was celebrated across the state on 1st April 2019 with a number of government and non-government organizations organizing various programmes to mark the occasion. People from different walks of life paid tributes to the late leaders such as Madhusudan Das, Gopabandhu Das, Maharaja Krushna Chandra Gajapati, Fakir Mohan Senapati and Gouri Shankar Ray who played a key role in the formation of a separate Odisha state on the linguistic basis during the waning years of British rule on 1st April 1936.
In order to reach out to the students, faculty and staff from outside Odisha and make them aware about the cultural heritage of the place they live in, NIT Rourkela took the initiative and celebrated in the Bhubaneswar Behera Auditorium (BBA). The function began at around 7:30 PM on a hearty welcome note by the host of the evening Dr. Smrutisikha Bal, followed by the presentation of bouquets to the guests on the dais. After the auspicious lamp lighting and shloka chanting ceremony, the state anthem of Odisha - Bande Utkala Janani was sung by a choir consisting of some of the most melodious voices in NITR. This instilled a sense of pride and gratitude among the audience present. The Chairman of the Utkal Diwas committee, Mr. B Acharya, delivered the welcome address. His speech enlightened the audience about how the rich heritage of Odisha has remained intact throughout decades of toil glory. The speeches by Registrar Professor S. K. Patel and Dean Student Welfare Professor S. Panigrahi instilled in the audience a sense of pride for the mother Odisha. There were three guests present to grace the evening with their benign presence – Bichitra Nanda Sahoo, Prasanna Kumar Nanda, and the Chief Guest being Dr. Ashwini Kumar Ray.
The speech by the honorable director Professor Animesh Biswas was entirely in Odia. He mentioned about the beauty of this land that exists despite being diverse in various forms. Next in line was the speech by the Chief Guest of the evening Dr. Ashwini Kumar Ray. A two-minute silence followed to pay homage to the late leaders who sacrificed their lives to forge the Odisha as it is in the present day.
The evening later witnessed numerous cultural performances that were performed by a multitude of students ranging from different clubs who had come together to celebrate the evening. Odissi dance, semi-classical dance, Sambalpuri dance and some patriotic dance forms mesmerised the audience.
There was a play performed by the official dramatics club of NITR, RITVIC, which was named ‘Shaurya’ that essayed the story of Major Dhruva. The play was based on an army family, where the elder son was an army officer and the father was a retired brigadier. The younger son was preparing for his NDA exams. The death of the elder son in a ceasefire violation was kept a secret from his mother even as she was always sceptical about it. She blames everyone for his death, especially her husband, but then a letter from her martyred son makes her realise the pride in the life of a soldier. The death of any brave soldier never goes in vain. The act was indeed splendid to showcase the shades of patriotism, comedy and tragedy. It was loved by the audience and the guests as well and the climax touched their hearts. The evening ended at around 10:30 PM with a vote of thanks to everyone involved in the glorious celebration.