The members of this group have been working towards helping people from the state of Odisha merge into the cultural landscape of Pune for the last two decades. The Utkal Samaj became a formally registered organisation in 2007,and their work has ranged from building replicas of famous temples to helping people from Odisha in various capacities. Organising festivals that are celebrated in their home state and also showcasing their culture to people in the city have been the samaj’s most active endeavours. They also celebrated the ‘Utkal Diwas’,on April 1,the foundation day of the state of Odisha. The event saw various cultural programmes being performed at Nehru Memorial Hall in Camp and was attended by over 400 Odiya families staying in the city.
Speaking about their work,LK Tripathy,secretary of the Samaj,says,As of now,we are busy with the construction of a replica of Puri’s Jagannath Temple,at Vadach Vadi in Undri. The Shri Jagannath Trust that we have set up specifically for this purpose will be working towards completing the same by 2015. The Samaj has already made replicas of the Balaji Temple and Shirdi’s Sai Baba Temple.
The Utkal Divas also witnessed performances of traditional dances like Dashavatar,Surya Asthak,Samablpuri ,Chhau and Gotipua,and folk songs like Kuanra Punei Janha and Rajautsav amongst others. Ranjan Rout,one of the spokespersons for the Samaj,says,The Ministry of Tourism was instrumental in sending a dance troupe all the way from Odisha to ensure that the programme was very good. Core members of the Samaj,along with the president,Amulya Kumar Bal,were present for the function. The Manini Sanskrutik Kala Parishad,that had come down from Cuttack,had also organised Lok Kathas for the people assembled. While Rout admits that the organisation is still in its gestation period,he feels that there is a lot of work happening,which will ultimately help expand the reach of the organisation. There are a lot of Odiya families in Pune. Uniting them and looking into their specific issues,while at the same time helping them become a part of the city,is the main aim of the organisation, he adds.
The Samaj also works towards helping people from Odisha adjust into the city. Tripathy says,We extend all possible support to newcomers from Odisha to Pune – be it searching for accommodation,jobs or even extending support in terms of medical assistance,for those who come for treatment to Pune. The trustees and active members of the Samaj are well connected with each other and always come forward for philanthropic causes.
While the Samaj has also worked along with organisations like the Malayalee Samaj and the Bharat Bharati,they are always open to working for the benefit of the society in general. On their future plans,Tripathi says,We want to start an Odia film festival,an Odiya food festival and celebrate more Odiya festivals,like Pana Sankranti and Kumara Purnima. Another long-term agenda is that of starting an Odisha Sanskrutika Kendra. It will house a library,a museum and will also have a hostel and education facilities for non-resident Odiyas of Pune.”