Oriya (Odia) became the sixth language in India to get classical status following approval of the Union cabinet.
An official press release said the benefits available for languages declared as classical languages include two major annual international awards for scholars of eminence in the concerned language.
A Centre of Excellence for Studies in Classical Languages can be set up and the University Grants Commission can be requested to create, to start with at least in Central Universities, a certain number of chairs for classical languages for scholars of eminence in the concerned language.
The demand of classifying Odia as a classical language was the demand of the state government since 2004, which was accepted by the Sahitya Akademi in July 2013 and then was forwarded to the Union Ministry of Culture.The Odisha Government submitted a document with a demand of classical tag on its official language was prepared under the supervision of founder director of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, Debiprasanna Pattanayak and researcher Subrat Kumar Prusty.
Odia being one of the oldest languages has been declared as classical language because of the demands and also because it has no resemblance to Hindi, Bengali, Telugu and Sanskrit.
Besides, former Rajya Sabha Member Ramachandra Khuntia played a major role in pursuing the issue in and outside Parliament.
Odia personalities from various walks of life were delighted about the news. Noted litterateur and former president of the Odisha Sahitya Akademi Ramachandra Behera was overjoyed at the development.
“I feel very proud. Our language has a rich heritage, and now, it has been given the due respect and position. Getting the classical tag is a great boost to our literature,” he said.
Well-known sculptor Raghunath Mohapatra, a Padma Vibhushan recipient, said that with a 2,000-year legacy of art and culture, Odia language deserved the tag. “Now, we have a golden opportunity to take our literature to new heights,” he said.
Veteran Odissi dancer Kumkum Mohanty said that till steps were taken to introduce classical Odia literature among private schools, the tag might not make much difference. “If Odia youth does not understand chhanda and champu that are the epitome of classical Odia literature, penned by the greatest of poets such as Upendra Bhanja, how will the tag make a difference? Till it is a part of all levels of academics, mainly schools, our own Odia youth will continue to be unaware of the high standards of Odia classical literature,” she said.