Tag Archives: Western Odisha

Mahatma Gandhi Temple in Bhatra, Sambalpur

Mahatma Gandhi Temple in Bhatra,SambalpurThis is not your regular shrine. The deity who stands leaning on a walking stick with the tricolour beside him is not drawn from Hindu mythology. But the setting and rituals are no less different from any regular temple. How can it be when for scores of people at Salangapalayam about 25km from Erode, Bapu is no less than God?

On Gandhi Jayanti, there is a stream of people from neighbouring villages to the Mahatma Gandhi koil (temple) as it is locally known. They stand outside the sanctum sanctorum before a granite idol of Bapu, heads bowed and hands folded. The priest performs the aarti as part of the daily puja for Bapu. Across the Gandhi idol, stands a small bust of Kasturba.

“I prayed to Bapu to make me a good girl and also help me to come first in my class,” says M Sanghvi, a class 4 student of Appachimar Madam Government School.

Mahatma Gandhi Temple in Bhatra,SambalpurApart from numerous children from nearby schools, elders and senior citizens also visit the temple on special occasions like Gandhi Jayanti on Tuesday.

“Generally, we have two pujas for Bapu everyday. On special days like today and on Independence Day and Republic Day we have elaborate rituals like smearing sandal paste, milk and panchaamritham abhishekam,” says V Kannan Iyer, chief priest of the temple.

The temple was built in 1997. Vaiyyapuri Mudaliar, a local businessman and a Gandhian, was instrumental in constructing the temple which is now managed by a trust.

“I personally consider Mahatma a divine person who was instrumental in changing the lives of many others. His sense of sacrifice and humility cannot be followed by ordinary people,” says Mudaliar. M Kuppulakshmi, a teacher of nearby government high school, says she makes it a point to ask her students to pray at the temple.

In sharp contrast, and almost as an insult to the memory of Gandhi, entry to the Mariamman temple that stands across the Gandhi koil is restricted to upper castes. “Everybody is welcome inside Bapu’s temple. But there are some restrictions on the entry of dalits in the Mariamman temple,” says S P Annamalai, former panchayat president Salangapalayam.

Surely, Gandhi, who campaigned all his life would have protested at this discrimination.

The most famous Gandhi temple is in Bhatra, a village near Sambalpur in Orissa. This temple built in the 1970s has a dalit priest and reportedly attracts devotees from Orissa and the neighbouring state of Chattisgarh.

Interestingly, Mahatma Gandhi didn’t believe in idol worship though he has said he understood the spirit behind it.

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Health awareness program during this Dussehra & Diwali

In an innovative endeavour to create awareness about a range of health issues, the Odisha State AIDS Control Society (OSACS) in association with National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) has involved folk troupes to disseminate educative messages in an entertaining manner, especially during the forthcoming Dussehra-Diwali festivities.

Targeting migrants who come home during the festive season, OSACS launched an ambitious campaign on Monday, under which nine IEC (information, education and communication) vans of trained cultural troupes will visit nine districts.

Health minister Damodar Rout flagged off the vans, which will cover the districts of Angul, Balasore, Bargarh, Balangir, Rayagada, Ganjam, Khurda, Koraput and Sambalpur between 3rd October and 3rd December.

Rout said the vans with folk troupes on board will display informative exhibitions on issues of HIV/AIDS, reproduction and child health (RCH), tuberculosis, malaria and so on. “The vans will create awareness on multiple health issues at the same time,” the minister said.

Each van will be accompanied by a mobile health unit (MHU). With one session per day, an MHU will provide services at 25 sites per month and IEC publicity van will cover 125 villages per month. Coinciding with the IEC van-MHU movement, social organizations will open condom promotion stalls at various places.

“A lot of migrants come to their native villages to observe Dussehra, Kumar Purnima and Diwali and stay for at least two months. We will reach out to these returnee migrants and their spouses during these days,” said an OSACS spokesperson.

The districts where the IEC vans will visit are considered high incidence areas for HIV/AIDS. According to OSACS figures, of the total 26,127 HIV positive cases in the state (as on August 31, 2012), the highest 9,893 are from Ganjam. Others include 1,447 from Koraput, 1,185 from Khurda, 1,135 from Sambalpur, 841 from Angul and 578 from Balangir.

Of the 1,569 AIDS patients in the state at present, 503 are from Ganjam alone. Of the 1,347 HIV/AIDS deaths so far, Ganjam has contributed the highest 433 followed by Koraput at 148. It is below 100 in each of the other districts.

Balasore, Jeypore, Jharsuguda, Jajpur under Rajiv Awas Yojana

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik urges Union Ministerof Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation Kumari Selja to include Balasore, Jeypore, Jharsuguda, Jajpur under Rajiv Awas Yojana. Patnaik writes a letter to Selja over this issue.

Patanik said that, “The Government of Odisha is fully committed to making the State slum free and has formulated a comprehensive policy for this purpose. We are also in the process of making a legislation for according property rights to slum dwellers and preventing the growth of new slums.”

CM Patnaik further added that, “Six cities of Odisha are at present covered under the Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY), which are Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, Berhampur, Rourkela, Sambalpur and Puri. So far 2 pilot projects have been sanctioned, namely Rangamatia and Mahisakhal slums in Bhubaneswar and a few more are in the process of submission. Owing to the rapid economic growth and urbanization of the State, it is essential to expand the coverage under RAY by inclusion of new cities. Taking into account the growth of cities and the incidence of slums, it is recommended that the cities of Balasore, Jeypore, Jharsuguda and Jajpur (including Jajpur Road) may be included under the scheme.”

40 lakh, Agricultural Scam in Sambalpur

Police on Wednesday claimed to have blown the lid off a money-siphoning racket in the agriculture department with the arrest of eight persons. The accused included two government employees and two staff of private banks.

Sambalpur SP Nikhil Kanodia said around Rs 40 lakh was withdrawn from the department’s account in agriculture development branch of SBI in Sambalpur on different occasions. The transactions were conducted without the knowledge of the agriculture department’s deputy director, who is the authorized signatory of the account.

“Our investigation revealed that two staff of the agriculture department, Sanjib Dash and Prafulla Sahu, had withdrawn the money by forging the deputy director’s signatures. The duo had also deposited cash amounting of about Rs.13,27,160 on three occasions to avoid any suspicion by bank officials. An employee of ING Vaisya, Amit Chandak, and a staff of HDFC, Amit Sahu, helped the accused to transfer Rs 15 lakh to the local branches of the private banks,” the SP said. “The accused have confessed everything and we have recovered cash of about Rs 12 lakh and bank deposits from them. We have also seized a motorcycle purchased from the stolen money. A court has remanded the accused to judicial custody,” he added.

The four other accused were identified as Sanjib Dehury, Prafulla Dash, Sumit Arjual and Kumar Parmar.

Asha Bhosle will sing a Sambalpuri Geet

Well known playback singer Asha Bhosle will be heard singing a Sambalpuri geet in the upcoming Odia film ‘Chini’ with a western Odisha flavour.

Asha has sung ‘Uanshar andhare nai dishe sina, haji nai jai jan‘  penned by Durga Madhab Panda for the film. “It is for the first time that a singer of Asha’s stature has sung a Sambalpuri number for a movie,” said Pradip Bhol, who is debuting as a director with the film.

Bhol, who has earlier produced reasonably successful movies such as ‘Pabitra Bandhan’ and ‘Suna Sankhali’, said ‘Chini’ will be an out and out commercial flick depicting how superstitions exist among the educated. “Traditions and culture of western Odisha, Nuakhai festival and marriages in this part of the state will be depicted in the film,” he said after the mahurat at Samlai temple in Sambalpur on Monday evening.

“Dialogues of the movie are a good mix of Sambalpuri and Odia. People from other parts of the state who don’t speak the western Odisha dialect can also easily understand the film and identify themselves with it,” Bhol said.

Famous Odia actors Mihir Das, Maheswata Ray and Debu Bose make up the star cast of the two-and-a-half-hour movie. Newcomer Tithi Rupa will be seen in the lead role as ‘Chini’. “I am very excited and feel very lucky to have bagged the role. The script is very exciting. The youth in the state can easily correlate themselves with the movie,” she said. Snehlata Padira and Bhabani Majhi are jointly producing the film.