The month of May had been a pretty adventures one with me embarking on my journey of 'blogger to author' and with launching of my debut book via blogchatter. And just like every journey is memorable not just because of the adventure it unfolds but because of the accompaniment of the people you come across who make it memorable this too was no exception. Like in a foreign land when you come across people from your own land your feeling of belongingness gets livened.... I felt the same when I met these authors from my native place embarking the journey with me in the world of blogchatter e-book carnival 2020.
Having been born and brought up in a different state (because of my father's job posting in Andhra Pradesh then Telangana now) my association with my native state had been limited to our summer vacation visits to my grandparents place until my post graduation of two years that I did from Odisha. Hence, Odisha (the land of Jagannath) has always held a very special place in my heart entwined with childhood memories of hearing to tales of our ancestral villages to celebration of various festivals and occasions in the traditional style and relishing of home made local delicacies from my grandma's hands. I don't know how many people in India know that Cuttack and Bhubaneswar alone host close to 300 exquisite pandals celebrating Durga Puja, in a large scale and in full grandeur.....my fondest memories of childhood so much so that even today Dussehra celebrations seem incomplete to me if I am unable to visit those pandals during the Puja.
Hence when I came across these books highlighting the culture and traditions of Odisha I couldn't help delving into them even after having read each of their posts during the A2Z blogging challenge. Let me give a glimpse of Odisha through a brief overview of these books:
Starting with the book 'My Village My Country' - The book comprises of glimpses of culture and traditions of not only Odisha in particular but also of India as a whole. The author being a well travelled person himself and having had the opportunity to reside in various states within India has written his first hand experiences of the cultures in those places highlighting his native place Odisha and his village Nua Mahulia.
What I loved about the book is that it just made me reminisce a lot of my childhood days starting with the Bali Jatra fair that is held in Oct/Nov every year commencing with Kartika Purnima (full moon day of Kartik) celebrations by Boita Bandana. This reminded me of floating that small palm leaf on a tiny wooden shaped raft with a candle atop along with my grandmother. Thakurani Jatra which the book speaks about reminds me of the numerous occasions I have seen it in summers and asked my grandparents about the stories behind each of those female deities. Those intriguing dances and music of Danda Nacha which I only got to know now after reading the book that it has a powerful religious meaning. The book also very beautifully explains the history behind Odissi dance origin and the forms/poses. The description of the village Nua Mahulia which is so very similar to my grandfather's village which he used to describe to us in all his tales... I wish I remembered it's name!
Apart from all these the book also talks about other aspects of India delving into history of erstwhile Bharatavarsha. The author has also touched upon the finer aspects of Hinduism, its origin and differences between Vedas and Upanishads. There is also an interesting perspective of the different forms of Mathematics and the significance of Shunya (Zero).
Overall the book is like a first hand diary entry of an Indian by heart and soul who loves to delve in it's cultural diversity (barring the few prejudices) with a soft corner for his homeland and native state Odisha.
The cover page of the book 'Geographical Indications Of Odisha' is so beautifully and meaningfully designed that it just can't fail to capture your attention. Very apt to the title of the book you can see the various GIs of Odisha very artistically showcased on the cover page itself. Did you know Odisha has 17 GIs to its name?!
Hailing from Odisha and having seen, bought and used multiple products from the state over the years I wasn't aware about their GI tagging. Apart from the famous sweet battle between West Bengal and Odisha claiming on rasgulla/rasagola to be theirs I wasn't aware of the other GI tags. This book is an eye opener and a must read for people like us who should know and be aware about the cultural and traditional identifications of our native places and our roots. Yes, there is much more to Odisha apart from the world reknown Ratha Yatra (Car Festival) and the Sun Temple of Konark.
Although I never really got to reside in my own home state for a longer period of time I always loved a few things from there being it's native. Like the Orissa Pattachitra or the Pipli Applique Work which are unique to the state. I love them so much that till date whatever items I have bought of this work I have stored them somewhere in the corner of my house like those old photo albums so that whenever nostalgia harnesses they can be revisited. And this book highlights all these works, their artists, the places in Odisha where these originate from and the method and the way they are done.
Not a very big fan of jewelry or sarees myself, I however am a big fan of the silver filigree (Tarakasi work) and the handloom fabric prints on bedsheets, covers and dresses. Thanks to the author for explaining all the different types of fabric prints of Odisha in so much detail... Now I know the types of Bandha/ Ikat prints and it's really interesting to read how it is done....and it was an eye opener for me to know that verses from "Gita Govinda" are woven in these works....now I can look for them!
Be it about the different types of fabrics like Sambalpuri Bandha, Dhalapathar fabrics, Gopalpur Tussar or Berhampur Patta...the author has put her heart and soul in explaining these works to great detail and creating awareness about these works. The book is a must read for people hailing from the state of Odisha and also for those readers who love to study the art work of various states of India this book provides the wholesome information needed.
I loved the cover page of this book as well... Simple and elegant... With colourful flowers and leaves signifying the title 'Five Petals'. As intriguing is the title of the book so are the five different stories in it very skillfully woven just like the cover page! Each story having a deep rooted meaning or a life lesson. Loved the way the author has tried her hand in different story forms including the suspense genre.
Not to give away the plot of the stories let me just discuss about the essence of Odisha in the stories. Although the book is a pure work of fiction and the theme is short stories this book also brings forth few subtle Odisha related aspects...... Like the story on the household of the Pattnaiks or the story of Neetu and Aja. Now, for all those who hail from the state very well know the word 'Aja' and I am glad the author has retained the name of the character as Aja in her book upholding in an indirect way the Odia language.
This being the debut book of the author the book reflects the childlike enthusiasm and a story teller's heart. I hope going forward she can weave more stories hailing from our roots in Odisha keeping the subtleties intact marking her niche.
Link to my own book 'Dots And Streaks' is here (free download for limited period).