Odisha Day, or ‘Utkal Divas,’ is a regional Indian holiday celebrated every April 1. It commemorates the eastern state, Odisha, functioning as a separate entity since 1936. Odisha was the first state in India to be created based on the grounds of a common language. It possesses a significant history, culture, and natural wonders which cement it as an important place for India as a whole. Let’s honor the day when this incredible piece of India finally stood on its own.
History of Odisha Day
India’s Odisha state is nestled right next to the Indian Ocean in the country’s east. It is home to a distinctive culture that forms part of the diverse Indian identity. In ancient times, Odisha was the center of the influential Kalinga Kingdom. This was a highly influential empire that was known to control significant ocean trade routes to South-East Asia. Kalinga, an essential part of Odisha, fell to the Mauryan Empire following the devastating Kalinga War. The war lasted 80 years – from around 321 B.C. to 261 B.C. — ending one of the most powerful empires in Indian history.
Odisha’s modern history began after the Bihar and Orissa states were separated from the Bengal province by the British in 1912. Due to the linguistic and cultural differences Odisha state had, Odisha would later break away and establish its own standalone state on April 1, 1936. This was after centuries of struggle. The date has been celebrated every year since as Odisha Day by its residents.
Some of the things that make Odisha so unique to the rest of India is primarily its cultural heritage. It offers a trove of unique art forms, historical sites, tribal traditions, food, and its own distinctive language (Odia). Today, Odisha is considered an important part of India, as it significantly contributes to the Indian economy by way of mineral production and tourism. It is home to many Hindu temples and locations that are treated as significant pilgrimage sites. Due to the heritage, history, and hardworking nature of its people, Odisha is considered to be the “soul of India”. Odisha Day is celebrated with fireworks competitions.
Odisha Day timeline
The influential Kalinga Kingdom is established, with Odisha at the center of its operations.
British India separates the states of Bihar and Orissa, the former name of Odisha, from the British Bengal Presidency.
Orissa separates from Bihar state on April 1, becoming its own independent province.
Orissa state changes its name to Odisha, to better reflect the region's official pronunciation in the local Odia language.
Odisha Day FAQs
Why do we celebrate ‘Utkal Divas’?
Odisha Day, or ‘Utkal Divas,’ is celebrated to remember the day the Indian state of Odisha became its own separate province, and it is done mainly to foster a spirit of unity among all citizens of Odisha.
Why is Odisha called 'Utkal'?
The name’s origins date back to Odisha’s ancient history as part of the Kalinga Empire. There are several theories on why it was named like this. The most repeated theory came from the fact that Utkal was the name given to the Northern part of Kalinga, or ‘ut-kalinga.’
Who triggered the separation of Odisha as its own state?
In 1920, the Indian National Congress aimed to reorganize some of India’s provinces according to linguistic basis. This inspired leaders in Orissa to form the provincial Utkal Congress Committee in 1921 to further the interests of the Odian people within the National Congress and push for their own separate state, which they achieved in 1936.
Odisha Day Activities
Learn about the culture
If you would like to know more about Odisha or its culture in general, you can begin by reading up and immersing yourself in information. There are countless texts, articles, and documentaries that tell the story of their history and culture.
Feast with loved ones
The cuisine of Odisha is distinctive to their identity. In celebration, you can hold your own hearty feasts with friends and family to mark the occasion.
Light some fireworks
An ongoing tradition of Odisha Day is to light fireworks in celebration. Color the skies with spectacular colors to show your solidarity with them.
5 InterestingFacts About Odisha State
It’s rich in resources
Odisha state has an abundance of mineral resources such as bauxite, iron ore, manganese, limestone, and graphite, making it crucial for India's economy.
Its capital is the City of Temples
Bhubaneswar, the capital of Odisha state, is known as the City of Temples due to the fact that 700 temples once stood there.
An abundant Hindu population
Odisha hosts the second-largest number of Hindus in India, owing to its rich Hindu culture and heritage.
It’s where India's oldest dance came from
The Odissi dance, which originated in Odisha's Hindu temples, is India's oldest surviving form of dance.
A beacon of biodiversity
Simlipal National Park, located in the Mayurbhanj district, is Asia's second-largest biosphere reserve.
Why We Love Odisha Day
It celebrates tradition and history
Odisha is home to one of the richest local traditions in the whole of India. Its historical, cultural, and religious significance to the country alone is a cause for celebration.
It highlights India's incredible diversity
Odisha Day is also a cause to celebrate the cultural diversity of India itself, which is home to over one billion people. It has more than 2,000 ethnic groups and recognizes 22 official languages. It is also the birthplace of four major religions (Hinduism, Sikhism, Buddhism, and Jainism).
The celebrations are a sight to behold
Those in Odisha celebrate the day by decorating their hometowns in festive colors. There are various events ranging from cultural festivals to spectacular firework displays across the state, making it a lively, radiant affair.
Odisha Day dates