Languages of Odisha


Located on the east coast, Odisha (Formerly Orissa), also known as The Soul of India, is a mystical land where the hoary past and the modern today form a harmonious blend – where ancient temples mingle with modern five star hotels. A land filled with awe inspiring monuments, thousands of master craftsmen and artists, numerous wildlife sanctuaries, stunning natural landscapes.

Odisha (Formerly Orissa) is also a place where you can have FUN! Let your hair down and relax on the tranquil beaches or pump up the adrenalin with a high speed ride on a water scooter at the Chilka Lake…Whatever your hearts desire, you’ll find it here! As delighted visitors to our state have said – it is a wonder that such a small geographic area can contain such a vast and fascinating collection of sights and experiences.

Oriya Language

Oriya or Odia language is the mother-tongue of the people living in the state of Orissa or Odisha. Orissa is one of the state of India. Oriya is also the official language of the state. It belongs to the Indo-Aryan language family. 31 millions of people in India speaks in this language in Orissa and also in some neighbor states. Oriya Script is used as the main writing system to write in this language.

Oriya Language History

This fascinating language which comprises a lot of historical facts and is the highlight of Odishi culture is best described by iloveindia here below:

Oriya, along with Bengali and Assamese, has been derived from the Eastern Magadhi Apabhramsa and trace its origin to the 10th century. In the 16th and 17th century, the language fell under the spell of Sanskrit. However, during the 17th and 18th centuries, it followed a new line of approach. The history of Oriya language is divided into Old Oriya (10th century-1300), Early Middle Oriya (1300-1500), Middle Oriya (1500-1700), Late Middle Oriya (1700-1850) and Modern Oriya (1850 till present day).

Old Oriya & Early Middle Oriya Literature (10th century to 1500)
Up to 1500 AD, Oriya literature mainly comprised of poems and prose that had religion, Gods and Goddesses as the main theme. The earliest use of prose in the language can be traced to the Madala Panji or the Palm-leaf Chronicles of the Jagannatha temple at Puri, which date back to the 12th century. The first great poet of Orissa was the famous Sarala-dasa, who wrote the Chandi Purana and the Vilanka Ramayana, both of them praising Goddess Durga. Rama-bibha, written by Arjuna-dasa, is regarded as the first long poem in Oriya language.

Middle Oriya Literature (1500 to 1700)
The next era is more commonly called the Jagannatha Dasa Period and stretches till the year 1700. The period began with the writings of Shri Chaitanya, whose Vaishnava influence brought in a new evolution in Oriya literature. Balarama Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Yasovanta, Ananta and Acyutananda were the main exponents in religious works in Oriya. The composers of this period mainly translated, adapted or imitated Sanskrit literature.

A few prominent works of this period include the Usabhilasa of Sisu Sankara Dasa, the Rahasya-manjari of Deva-durlabha Dasa and the Rukmini-bibha of Kartikka Dasa. A new form of novels in verse also evolved during the beginning of the 17th century, when Ramachandra Pattanayaka wrote Haravali. Other poets, like Madhusudana, Bhima, Dhivara, Sadasiva and Sisu Isvara-dasa, composed another form of poems called Kavyas (long poems based on themes from Puranas). The language used by them was plain and simple Oriya.

Late Middle Oriya Literature (1700 to 1850)
From the turn of the 18th century, verbally tricky Oriya became the order of the day. Verbal jugglery, obscenity and eroticism became the trend of the period, the most notable poet being Upendra Bhanja. Many other poets tried to imitate him, but none could fit into his shoes, with the exception of Bhima-Bhoi and Arakshita Dasa. Family chronicles in prose and literature related to religious festivals and rituals also covered a large portion of this period. The first Oriya printing typeset was cast in 1836, by the Christian missionaries. The actual Oriya script closely resembled Bengali and Assamese scripts, but the one adopted for the printed typesets was completely different, leaning more towards the Tamil script.

Modern Oriya Literature (1850 till present day)
In this period, three great poets and prose writers, Rai Bahadur Radhanatha Ray, Madhusudana Rao and Phakiramohana Senapati, settled in Orissa and made Oriya their own. They brought in a modern outlook and spirit into Oriya literature. Around the same time, the modern drama took birth in the works of Rama Sankara Ray, beginning with Kanci-Kaveri. 20th century writers in Oriya include Nanda-kisora Bal, Gangadhara Mehera, Chintamani Mahanti and Kuntala-Kumari Sabat Utkala-bharati, besides Niladri Dasa and Gopabandhu Dasa.

The most notable novelists till date are Umesa Sarakara, Divyasimha Panigrahi, Gopala Praharaja and Kalindi Charana Panigrahi. Sachi Kanta Rauta Ray is the great introducer of the ultra-modern style in modern Oriya poetry. Others who took up this form were Godavarisa Mahapatra, Dr Mayadhara Manasimha, Nityananda Mahapatra and Kunjabihari Dasa. Prabhasa Chandra Satpati is known for his translations of some western classics, apart from Udayanatha Shadangi, Sunanda Kara and Surendranatha Dwivedi.

Criticism, Essays and History
Criticism, essays and history also became major lines of writing in the Oriya language. The renowned writers in this field were Professor Girija Shankar Ray, Pandit Vinayaka Misra, Professor Gauri Kumara Brahma, Jagabandhu Simha and Hare Krushna Mahatab. Oriya literature mirrors the industrious, peaceful and artistic image of the Oriya people, who have offered and gifted much to the Indian civilization, in the field of art and literature.