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Odhisa: Culture & Heritage

The History & Origin of Kalinga & its Language

Apr 01, 2020

By: Student Contributor, University Blog Team

In its enormous history, Odisha has had its long traditions of Dharmic religions, namely Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism. It is during the ruling period of King Ashoka when Odisha was known to be ‘Kalinga’ and it was during his reign that Buddhism became a principal religion of the state!

Further, this influence also led to a number of Buddhist structures known as ‘Stupas’ to be built up across the state. During this time the state also saw the establishment of many Buddhist learning centres. Then later during King Kharavela’s reign, Jainism became prominent.

However, Hinduism was revived by the mid 9th century. It was Adi Shankaracharya who proclaimed Puri, as ‘dhams’ or ‘holiest place.’ This made Puri one of the ‘Char Dhams’ we have in India today.
‘Odia’ happens to be the sixth national language to be classified as a classical language in India. The language ‘Odia’ belongs to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European Language family. Besides the Tribal people known as the ‘Adivasis’, who form about 22.5% of the total population, they speak their own language. They belong to the Dravidian & Munda language families.

Thus the ’Odia’ culture despite the differences in the dialect & way of living is united through a common thread! ’Lord Jagannath’ is that thread which binds the entire of Odisha together. This is the belief of the people of this land!

Odisha is hence a rich mixture of Hinduism, Buddhism & Jainism. The Jagannath temple, puri is Considered to be a holy place by three of these religions! Presently, the majority of the population in the state comprises Hindus. Odisha is counted amongst the 3rd highest Hindu populated states in the country.

Odisha is culturally rich & diversified. Owing to its Hindu faith & traditions it houses a number of saints. Sarala Dasa was the translator of the epic ‘Mahabharata’ in Odia. Jayadeva was the author of ‘Geeta Govinda’. And this is recognized by the Sikhs as one of their important Bhagats. The official language of the state, spoken by the majority of the population is ‘Odia’.

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