Odiya is an Indo-Aryan language native to the Indian state of Odisha, where it is spoken by nearly 32 million people. It is also one of the official languages of India. Odiya is written in the Odia script and has a long history with influences from Sanskrit, Prakrit and Pali. The alphabets used in Odiya are similar to those used in other Indian languages like Hindi and Bengali, with some additional characters specific to the language.Odiya is the sixth Indian language to be designated a classical language, on the basis of having a long literary history and not having borrowed extensively from other languages. The earliest known inscription in Odia dates back to the 10th century CE.

Odia is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-Aryan language family. It descends from Odra Prakrit, which evolved from Magadhi Prakrit, which was spoken in east India over 1,500 years ago, and is the primary language used in early Jain and Buddhist texts. Odia appears to have had relatively little influence from Persian and Arabic, compared to other major Indo-Aryan languages.

“Learn to Handwrite Odiya Alphabets”

Major dialects

  • Baleswari (Northern Odia): Spoken in Baleswar, Bhadrak, Mayurbhanj and Kendujhar districts of Odisha and southern parts of undivided Midnapore of West Bengal. The variant spoken in Baleswar is called Baleswaria.

  • Kataki (Central Odia):Spoken in the coastal and central regions consisting of Cuttack, Khordha, Puri, Nayagarh, Jajpur, Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara, Dhenkanal, Angul, Debagarhand parts of Boudh districts of Odisha with regional variations. The Cuttack variant is known as Katakia.

    • Khurda Odia (standard register): Spoken in Khordha, Puriand Nayagarh districts of Odisha.

  • Ganjami(Southern Odia): Spoken in Ganjam,Gajapati and parts of Kandhamal districts of Odisha,Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh. The variant spoken in Berhampur is also known as Berhampuria.

Odiya literature has a great legacy, going back centuries. Major poets such as Sarala Dasa, Upendra Bhanja, Gopalkrushna Pattanayaka and Ramakrushna Bal have all made significant contributions to Odiya literature, writing plays and epics. Odiya is also blessed with great authors such as Fakir Mohan Senapati, Gopinath Mohanty and Pratibha Ray who have written best-selling novels in the language.

Odia retains most of the cases of Sanskrit, though the nominative and vocative have merged (both without a separate marker), as have the accusative and dative. There are three genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) and two grammatical numbers (singular and plural). However, there are no grammatical genders. The usage of gender is semantic, i.e. to differentiate male members of a class from female members.There are three true tenses (present, past and future), others being formed with auxiliaries.

Odiya has spread beyond India’s borders and is spoken in countries like USA, UK, Canada and Australia. It is even taught in universities across the world.The Odia language uses the Odia script (also known as the Kalinga script). It is a Brahmic script used to write primarily the Odia language and others like Sanskrit and several minor regional languages. The script has developed over nearly 1000 years, with the earliest trace of the script being dated to 1051 AD.

The earliest literature in Odia can be traced to the Charyapadas, composed in the 7th to 9th centuries.Before Sarala Das, the most important works in Odia literature are the Shishu Veda, Saptanga, Amara Kosha, Rudrasudhanidhi,Kesaba Koili,Kalasa Chautisa,etc.In the 14th century, the poet Sarala Das wrote the Sarala Mahabharata, Chandi Purana, and Vilanka Ramayana, in praise of the goddess Durga. Rama-Bibaha, written by Arjuna Dasa, was the first long poem written in the Odia language.

One of the prominent writers of the 20th and 21st centuries was Muralidhar Mallick (1927–2002). His contribution to Historical novels is beyond words. He was last felicitated by the Sahitya Academy in the year 1998 for his contributions to Odia literature. His son Khagendranath Mallick (born 1951) is also a writer. His contribution towards poetry, criticism, essays, story and novels is commendable. He was the former President of Utkal Kala Parishad and also former President of Odisha Geeti Kabi Samaj. Presently he is a member of the Executive Committee of Utkal Sahitya Samaj. Another illustrious writer of the 20th century was Mr. Chintamani Das. A noted academician, he was written more than 40 books including fiction, short stories, biographies and storybooks for children. Born in 1903 in Sriramachandrapur village under Satyabadi block, Chintamani Das is the only writer who has written biographies on all the five ‘Pancha Sakhas’ of Satyabadi namely Pandit Gopabandhu Das, Acharya Harihara, Nilakantha Das, Krupasindhu Mishra and Pandit Godabarisha. Having served as the Head of the Odia department of Khallikote College, Berhampur, Chintamani Das was felicitated with the Sahitya Akademi Samman in 1970 for his outstanding contribution to Odia literature in general and Satyabadi Yuga literature in particular. Some of his well-known literary creations are ‘Bhala Manisha Hua’, ‘Manishi Nilakantha’, ‘Kabi Godabarisha’, ‘Byasakabi Fakiramohan’, ‘Usha’, ‘Barabati’.

“Learn to Handwrite Odiya Alphabets”

Rulers of ancient Odisha were great patrons of the language and culture; they promoted it through grants and awards for poets, playwrights and authors. This heritage still lives on today, with people around the world taking pride in their native language. Usage of Odiya is increasing day by day, and new generations are keeping the language alive through novels, poems, songs and other creative works. With its rich history, Odiya is sure to continue to thrive for many more years to come.