No matter where they stay, every Odia woman usually has a gorgeous Sambalpuri patta saree in her wardrobe, every Odia man has a Sambalpuri shirt or kurta and above all, almost every Odia kid must have performed a Sambalpuri folk dance during the annual cultural events in school or college. No Odia wedding procession is complete without the tunes of “Rangabati Rangabati”. And deep fried savoury platters are incomplete without the lip-smacking Chaul bara (Rice fritters) with tentuli jhola (Tamarind chutney).

This is a culture that celebrates diversity and where the indigenous communities of Odisha co-exist with each other thus creating a melting pot of rich literature, dance forms, music, food and textile. It is this ethos that nurtured Odia legends including the foremost freedom fighter of India from 1800s, Veer Surendra Sai who dared to rebel against the Britishers, igniting the flame of Freedom Movement in India. Legendary poets like Gangadhar Meher, Bhima Bhoi and Satya Narayana Bohidar among many others are Western Odisha’s gift to India.

A portrait of Shri Satya Narayana Bohidar

Shri Bohidar played a pivotal role in keeping the Sambalpuri dialect alive by creating a dictionary for it despite braving many odds in his life. He created a legacy with his unique body of work as a tribute to the beautiful Sambalpuri culture. He was instrumental in creating a communal feeling among the different western districts of Odisha. This led to the preservation and promotion of the language. He is credited to be the first person to create Sambalpuri literature. His just did not strive to become a writer himself, but also supported and encouraged other writers which helped create a distinct Sambalpuri langage. Hence, his birthday, August 1 every year is a chance for every Odia to pay their respect to the culture by celebrating “Sambalpuri Din.” It is a day when we step back and cherish each and every way in which this beautiful culture and its people have touched our lives.

“Born and brought up in Sambalpur, I have seen a beautiful culture unfold in front of me. Since time immemorial, these people have made a significant contribution to the society in the form of literature, food, festivals, textile, even freedom struggle and many more.” Said Trupti Dash, a homemaker from Bhubaneswar to Ootkal.

Sarsatia, an unique Sambalpuri sweet made of rice flour

Picture @eatwithbinny

“The Sambalpuri legacy is rich and on occasions like Sambalpuri Din, we would love the world to know about the rich culture and heritage of Western Odisha. Sambalpuri Bastarlaya, a co-operative movement in textile started by my grand father in law Late Padmashri Kruthartha Acharya, still has its reputation and holds the baton in spreading the Odia culture across the globe”, she added.

“I am a person who believes that our heritage and roots make us rich. The Sambalpuria in me becomes immensely happy and proud when I see how popular is the Sambalpuri bandha saree, which I was not aware of until social media gained momentum. It does not matter where I stay, a soulful meal for me is kaddi wala ambila, patalghanta chutchuta, rai and any typical food made in a Sambalpuria home. I still cannot stop myself from dancing when I hear the dhol- madal sound. My daily playlist features rangabati, ekda ekda and sambalpuria babu. Till date whenever somebody asks me to sing a song the first song that comes to my mind is ekda ekda. I am still known as the ekda ekda girl in my office and college, that how much Sambalpuria I am”, Ipsa Mishra, a Techie from Sydney tells us.

A traditional Sambalpuri Saree

It is the perfect day to wear our best Sambalpuri attire, listen to our favourite folk songs, eat the delicious sarsatia and celebrate the gorgeousness of the unique history.