» 
» 
» 
ARTICLES
» 
» 
» 
» 

"Saraswati Puja (Basant Panchami)" to be celebrated by Lucknow Oriya Samaj on 22nd January, 2018

 
Untitled Document

Sri Jagannath Culture: A guide to New World order

I am proud of belonging to the land of Odia's. Not that its soil, water, flora or fauna has got something very special which no other land possesses. Or it may be so to some. But for me it is just because of it being the abode of the Lord Jagannath and the culture surrounding the deity that permeates the whole social life there.

The meaning of culture in its simplest form is 'the way majority of the members of a society think, feel or do' in extending co-operation to each other in their collective living. The drama of every life has been scripted to end with tragedy. Every step we take in fact inches us towards that tragic end. Still people in some cultures do it in an exceedingly joyous manner. What does make them to merrily progress towards in embracing the ultimate?

The culture is the only differentiator. More a culture is rich; more the life would be vibrant. Life is not a journey from one point to another point so that only on reaching one's chosen destination one would start enjoying life. Given the uncertainty of life, one does not know as to when and where the end scene of one's life would be enacted. What, therefore, matters most in life is one's knowing to enjoy every point in one's journey towards this destination. The wisdom of holding this attitude in life makes the living process itself a great comedy notwithstanding whether one could thereby reach one's chosen destination or not. However, for this, we need to have an enabling culture, which not only knows how to honour the core values of a society but also at the same time demonstrates sufficient flexibility in implementing these values consistent with the changing needs and emerging aspirations of a growing society. It is a question of doing away with cultural rigidities in thought and action so as to make one feel very refreshing to live in it.

It speaks of an unemancipated character of a civilization that propagates the culture of stratifying humankind in terms of caste and imposing social restrictions based on this. Jagannath culture not only discards this abrogating practice but also goes several steps ahead in implementing a very progressive policy that gives right message to the humanity as a whole. If the visitors to the Temple want to partake 'Mahaprasad' at the 'Anand Bazaar', which is verily located within its holy premises, they have to leave behind all their caste affiliations. The 'Anand Bazaar' symbolizes the celebration of the oneness among all human beings.

'A boy/ girl falls in love with a girl/ boy and they finally get married' does not make a love story. A love story is the one where society had put up a wall for this marriage to take place between them and that made their struggle to overcome it filled with lots of heartbreaking episodes and rinsed with tons of tears. And higher and stronger is the wall, richer would be the emotional content of their struggle and more heart-rending would be the love story. The 'Mukti Mandap', which is situated inside the Temple premises and serves as the venue for the learned people to debate on the social issues, had declared long ago, “Unmarried girl has no caste.” On account of this verdict, inter-caste or even inter-faith marriages in Odia society are not writ with much of tensions. 'Honour killings' prevalent elsewhere is conspicuous by its absence in Odia society.

Although money was evolved to serve as a medium of exchange, it in due course of time gave rise to many other important values to its holders. And like all other societies, the Odia society also knows how to value money on all those counts. At the same time, it also believes that because enough money is available, it does not give one a licence to get engaged in vulgar display of wealth in celebrating private/ public socio-cultural occasions/ events or in resorting to an outrageously ostentatious living style.

This is because Jagannath culture imbues in its members a value orientation which decrees that too much hunger for material pleasure negates one's spiritual advancement or to that extent one would be distancing oneself from the Lord. Therefore, the ethos of the society is more towards 'convivial' or 'self-imposed/ spirited' poverty. This particular frame of mind has contributed every Odian being perceived as a person who knows to regulate his/ her behaviour in a collective setting being fully aware of 'how one's excessive way of living impacts others in a society' and helped him/ her in getting emotionally integrated with the communities there.

- R.K. Das
Joint Director,
Bankers Institute of Rural Development,
NABARD, Lucknow