Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Oct 9:
The 138th birth anniversary of legendary Odia freedom fighter Utkalmani Pandit Gopabandhu Das, commemorated as Gopabandhu Jayanti, was celebrated across the state today.
Eminent personalities garlanded the statue of the Utkalmani at the Gopabandhu Square here early in the morning. Besides, a slew of programmes were organised all over the state to pay tributes to the veteran political leader who was also a philosopher, poet, journalist and social reformer.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, Assembly Speaker Niranjan Pujari, Agriculture Minister Pradeep Maharathy, Tourism and Culture Minister Ashok Chandra Panda, Health & Family Welfare, Information & Public Relations Minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak and local MP Prasanna Patasani, among others, garlanded the statue of Gopabandhu Das in the Assembly premises.
Leaders took to social media to pay their tributes to the iconic leader, who is considered as one of the greatest personalities of Odisha history. Patnaik wrote on Twitter: “My tribute to late Utkalmani Pt Gopabandhu Das. His entire life, devoted to Odisha, is a grt inspiration for all of us”.
Similarly, Union Petroleum Minister tweeted: “My homage to freedom fighter, social reformer & literary figure Utkalmani Pt. Gopabandhu Das on his Birth Anniversary.” Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram tweeted: “I pay my heartfelt tribute to the Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das on his birth anniversary.”
Earlier in the day, #UtkalaMani was trending No 1 on Twitter on national trends.
Congress workers organized various programmes in the state to mark the day. Party’s state president Prasad Harichandan and senior party leader Suresh Routray led the workers in the city in paying homage to the Utkalmani.
Gopabandhu was born on October 9, 1877, to Swarnamayee Devi and Daitari Das in Suando village near Puri. He is one of the trinity who helped Odisha to come into being as the first official linguistic state in India in 1936. Though he played a pivotal role in creating the separate province ‘Orissa’, he had already died by the time the goal was achieved.
Gopabandhu married Apti at the age of 12 as per tradition then. Post completion of primary education, he joined Puri Zilla School in 1893 where he met his teacher Mukhtiar Ramchandra Das. He was greatly inspired by the nationalistic values of his teacher.
The laxity of the authorities towards the victims of cholera prompted him to start a voluntary organization – Puri Seva Samiti. The movement later translated into setting up of a separate hospital for cholera patients in the district. Besides, he was also instrumental in establishment of Satyabadi School at Satyabadi in Puri district.
Described as the ‘Gandhi of Odisha’, his immense contributions to the cause of Odisha and Odia society have earned him the title ‘Utkalmani’ or ‘Gem of Odisha’. Notably, Odisha was known as Utkal in the medieval period.