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About Oriya Language

Oriya or Odia (ଓଡ଼ିଆ oṛiā) is an Indian language, belonging to the Indo-Aryan branch of the Indo-European language family. It is mainly spoken in the Indian state of Orissa. The language is also one of the many official languages in India.


Oriya is the predominant language of Orissa having 93% Oriya speakers. Outside Orissa, there are also significant Oriya-speaking populations in other linguistic regions, such as the Midnapore District of West Bengal, the Singhbhum & Seraikela Kharsawan district of Jharkhand the Srikakulam and Vishakhapatnam District of Andhra Pradesh and Bastar and other districts of Chhatisgarh province. Due to the increasing migration of labour, the west Indian state of Gujarat also has a significant Oriya speaking population with Surat being the second largest Oriya speaking city in India.The Oriya speaking people also found in significant numbers in the cities of Vishakhapatnam, Hyderabad, Pondicherry, Bangalore, Chennai, Goa, Mumbai, Raipur, Ranchi, Jamshedpur, Baroda, Ahmedabad, New Delhi, Kolkata, Kharagpur, Guwahati, etc. in India.

The diasporic Oriyas constitute sizable number in several countries around the world. They are significant in number in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra and Bali and in the European countries such as United States, Canada, Australia and England. Presently Oriyas are found in almost all countries of the globe.Oriyas are regarded as one of the ‘Transnational Ethnic Indian Groups’.In India, the language is spoken by over 31 million people, and globally over 45 million speak Oriya. It is one of the official languages of India and the major language of Orissa. Oriya language has spread to the other parts of the globe such as Burma, Malaysia, Fiji, Indonesia, Java, Sumatra, the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and UAE.

The major Oriya dialects:

  • Midnapori Oriya:(spoken in the Midnapore District of West Bengal)
  • Balasori Oriya: (spoken in Balasore and Bhadrak district of Orissa)
  • Ganjami Oriya:(spoken in Ganjam, Gajapati, Phulbani, Koraput Rayagada, Nowrangpur of Orissa & Srikakulam district of Andhra Pradesh)
  • Desiya Oriya:(spoken in the undivided Koraput District of Orissa and in the hilly regions of Vishakhapatnam, Vizianagaram District of Andhra Pradesh)
  • Halbi:(Orissa and Chhattisgarh border)
  • Bhatri; (Orissa and Chhattisgarh border)
  • Sambalpuri Oriya:(Spoken in Sambalpur, Sundargarh,Bolangir, Jharsuguda, Subarnapur, Boudh, Bargarh district of Orissa and Raigarh, Sarangarh, Bilaspur, Jashpurnagar district of Chhatisgarh state)
  • Kalahandi Oriya:(spoken in Kalahandi & Nuapada district of Orissa)
  • Singhbhumi Oriya:(Spoken in East Singhbhum,West Singhbhum and Saraikela-Kharsawan district of Jharkhand)
  • Chatishgarhi of Chhatishgarh, and Nagpuri or Sadri languages are also treated as dialects of Oriya language by some linguists. The Oriya spoken in costal districts of Orissa is known as Mughalbandi Oriya.

Oriya is written with the Oriya script.


Oriya is an Eastern Indo-Aryan language belonging to the Indo-Aryan language family. It is thought to be directly descended from the Prakrit known as Purva Magadhi that was spoken in eastern India over 1,500 years ago. It bears a very strong resemblance to the Bangla (Bengali), Maithili, and Ôxômiya (Assamese). Of all the languages spoken in eastern India, Oriya appears to be the least influenced by Persian and Arabic.

The history of the Oriya language is divided into:

  • Old Oriya (8th century-1300): The origin of the Oriya literature can be traced to "Bauddha Gana O Doha", otherwise known as Charyapada written by the Buddhist Siddhas of Orissa. The Oriya language begins to appear in inscriptions with Oriya scripts in temples, copper plates, palm-leaf manuscripts etc. [[Media:Traces of Oriya words and expressions have been found in inscriptions dating from the 7th century AD. For example, the Oriya word କୁମ୍ଭାର /kumbha:rɔ/ ‘potter’ occurs in a copperplate inscription ‘belonging to a date not later than the 7th century AD’. Similarly, in inscriptions of 991 AD, Oriya words like ଭିତୁରୁ /bhituru/ ‘from inside’ and ପନ୍ଦର /pɔndɔrɔ/ ‘fifteen’ can be found. ‘An Oriya Passage’ also has been found in another inscription of about 715 AD.]]
  • Early Middle Oriya (1300-1500): The earliest use of prose can be found in the Madala Panji or the Palm-leaf Chronicles of the Jagannatha temple at Puri, which date back to the 12th century. Middle Oriya (1500-1700): Mahabharat, Chandi Puran, Vilanka Ramayan of Shudramuni Sarala Das. Arjuna Das, a contemporary to Sarala Dasa, wrote Rama-Bibha, a significant long poem in Oriya. Towards the 16th century, five poets emerged, though there are hundreds year gap in between them. But they are known as Panchasakha's as they believed to same school of thought, Utkaliya Vaishnavism. The poets are Balaram Das, Jagannath Das, Achyutananda Das, Ananta Das and Jasobanta Das.
  • Late Middle Oriya (1700-1850): Usabhilasa of Sisu Sankara Das, the Rahasya-manjari of Deva-durlabha Dasa and the Rukmini-bibha of Kartikka Das were written. A new form of novels in verse evolved during the beginning of the 17th century when Ramachandra Pattanayaka wrote Haravali. Upendra Bhanja took a leading role in this period, his creations were Baidehisha Bilasa, Koti Brahmanda Sundari, Lavanyabati were proved land mark in Oriya Literature. Dinakrushna Das’s Rasokallola and Abhimanyu samanta Simhara’s Bidagdha Chintamani are prominent Kavyas of this time. Four major poets emerged in the end of the era are Kabi surya Baladeb Rath, Bhima Bhoi, Brajanath Badajena and Gopal Krushna Pattanaik.
  • Modern Oriya (1850 till present day): The first Oriya printing typeset was cast in 1836 by the Christian missionaries which made a great revolutions in Oriya literature and language.


The history of Oriya literature begins in the 14th century, with the great poet Sarala Dasa's works 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 Oriya language.

The following era is termed the Panchasakha Age and stretches until the year 1700. The period begins with the writings of Shri Chaitanya whose Vaishnava influence brought in a new evolution in Oriya literature. Notable religious works of the Panchasakha Age include the Balarama Dasa, Jagannatha Dasa, Yasovanta, Ananta and Acyutananda. The authors of this period mainly translated, adapted, or imitated Sanskrit literature. Other prominent works of the period include the Usabhilasa of Sisu Sankara Dasa, the Rahasya-manjari of Deva-durlabha Dasa and the Rukmini-bibha of Kartikka Dasa. A new form of novels in verse evolved during the beginning of the 17th century when Ramachandra Pattanayaka wrote Haravali. Other poets like Madhusudana, Bhima, Dhivara, Sadasiva and Sisu Isvara-dasa composed another form called kavyas (long poems) based on themes from Puranas, with an emphasis on plain, simple language.

However, during the Bhanja Age (also known as the Age of Riti Yuga) beginning with turn of the 18th century, verbally tricky Oriya became the order of the day. Verbal jugglery, obscenity and eroticism characterise the period between 1700-1850, particularly in the works of the era's eponymous poet Kabi Samrat Upendra Bhanja (1670-1720). Bhanja's work inspired many imitators of which the most notable are Bhima Bhoi and Arakshita Dasa. Family chronicles in prose relating religious festivals and rituals are also characteristic of the period.

The first Oriya printing typeset was cast in 1836 by Christian missionaries. Although the handwritten Oriya script of the time closely resembled the Bengali and Assamese scripts, the one adopted for the printed typesets was significantly different, leaning more towards the Tamil script.

Oriya has a rich literary heritage dating back to the thirteenth century. Sarala Dasa who lived in the fourteenth century is known as the Vyasa of Orissa. He translated the Mahabharata into Oriya. In fact, the language was initially standardised through a process of translating classical Sanskrit texts such as the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Srimad Bhagabatam. The translation of the Srimad Bhagabatam by Jagannatha Das was particularly influential on the written form of the language. Oriya has had a strong tradition of poetry, especially devotional poetry.


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