Reported by OST Special Correspondent
Santa Clara (USA), June 6:
The birth centenary of the great Indian writer and the first Jnanpith Awardee from Odisha, Dr. Gopinath Mohanty was celebrated in Santa Clara, California under the auspices of International Gurukul ( iGurukul).
Odias from northern California attended in large numbers to celebrate and pay tributes to Sri Gopinath Mohanty and recount his lasting contributions to Odia literature and culture.
Dr Mohanty has been a major influence over young Odia writers post-independence and continues to inspire the new breed as well, eminent speakers on this occasion said.
The program was dedicated to Dr. Gopinath Mohanty as a person, writer and his contributions to Odia literature, to the rural and tribal population of Odisha. Many Odia and Odisha lovers who are proud of the intrinsically rich Odia literature and culture attended this session. Among them were Dr Gopinath Mohanty’s two daughter – Anjalika and Jayantika, and two son-in-laws – Surya Pattanaik, Rama Das and also Twisampati Mitra, son of eminent writer Bamacharan Mitra.
Dr. Surya Pattanaik had brought images, audio and videos from the celebrations held in Bhubaneswar and showed someexcerpts, that included exhibits of Dr Mohanty’s works, his images with other literary figures of the time, his daily-use artefacts, his flutes, his letters to near and dear ones and talks on him by Dr Sitakanta Mohapatra, Mohapatra Nilamani Sahoo, Raj Kishore Mishra, Satkodi Hota and many other eminent Odia literary figures.
Sri Ram Das ( Dr Mohanty’s younger son-in-law) talked about his personal experiences with his father-in-law and what he thought were the uniqueness of the great writer.
He mentioned about Dr. Mohanty’s attention to minutest details and his sense of discipline that helped him reach such great heights of accomplishment.
Dr. Anjalika Mohanty (his eldest daughter) recounted her memories of his great father. She acknowledged, candidly, that in spite of being his daughter she has never been able to fully comprehend his work. However, she said she had been able to fathom his greatness as a hunan being and writer and also knows why so many intellectuals and writers adored him.
Twisampati Mitra also spoke at length about Dr Mohanty’s literary genius, his work, style of writing and how his novels compare with his short stories. He also talked about how he encouraged young writers of the time who have now become popular and widely respected writers in Odisha.
Senior Odisha IAS officers Vishal Dev and Sanjiv Mishra attended Dr Mohanty’s centenary celebration as guests of honour.
The first hour was dedicated to “developments in Odisha” as the two guests updated the gathering about the latest anf answered several critical questions from the NRI members of Northern California.
Sushant Pattnaik and Purna Mohanty had coordinated their visit.
Both the guests expressed their gratitude to iGurukul for promoting and propagating Odia language and culture in a foreign land. They also praised iGurukul for its contribution to keep Odia culture/heritage alive among the generation next through all these activities.
“Chala Aame Odia Sikhiba” is a program of iGurukul, which was established in the year 2000 to promote and propagate the beautiful Odia language and culture in USA. It provides basic education in Odia literacy and culture through regular classes, summer camps, odissi dance, music classes, stage plays in Odia language. “Learning to Know, Learning to Grow, Learning to ‘Be’ and Learning to Live Together” is the vision of iGurukul. This is perhaps the first registered program outside Odisha to promote Odia language.
The session started with the guests of honour lighting candles and all the participants paying their tributes to the great writer with flowers.
Ms Kuku Das, the president and co-founder of I Gurukul welcomed the guests and the audience and thanked the iGurukul family and the Bay Area Odia community for their help and support to keep this program sustained in this diaspora. With her was present the core team of iGurukul including Gayatri Joshi, Mita Moharana, Jayashree Panda, Manoj Joshi,Samar Moharana, Pranab Panda and Bibek Das.
The whole program lasted two and half hours and to the relief of some hungry people, a sumptuous lunch was served, which included Odia delicacies including “Chhena Poda”!!