We propose to digitize six regional Odia language serials from the early twentieth century. In comparison to the more broadly circulated journals of the period, these minor serials are more given to local tastes and particular concerns, and will allow scholars to better delineate the character of the Odia language public sphere in the period.
These serials are part of the repository of the Utkal Sahitya Samaj, the most prominent learned society of Odisha in the period. These possess a rare archival value. Their digitization will help scholars to better study the varied nature of Odia print culture in the early twentieth century. There are no holdings listed for these titles in WorldCat, and to the best of our knowledge, they have not yet been used by scholars of Odia literary history.
Three of these serials were brought out from Jagannath Puri, the famous temple town and pilgrimage center in Odisha. Baikuntha Bhikari, a weekly in Odia, was brought out by the Orissa Printing Works. Puribasi, a bilingual weekly in English and Odia, was published by the Purushottam Printing and Publishing Company. The Ratnakar, another bilingual weekly, was published in aid of the charitable home for consumptives at Puri. Some are directly concerned with the promotion of Hinduism—Baikuntha Bhikari’s editor is interested in the “protection of cattle, temple and religious vocation […] through the teaching of dharma.” Others are more concerned with the aspirations of the town of Puri at large—Puribasi wants the temple town to be made into the administrative capital of the province for a few months in a year. By and large, they will help a scholar to better understand Puri and its local urban culture in the period.
One of the serials was published from Calcutta and catered to the needs of the Odia diaspora in the city. Utkal Barta, a weekly newspaper in Odia, was printed and published by one Mani Lal Maharana at the Utkal Press, 8 St. James’ Square, Calcutta. Bound volumes are available only for the years 1914, 1915. By a contemporary estimate, about one hundred thousand Odia migrant workers and entrepreneurs resided in Calcutta at the end of the nineteenth-century. No comprehensive work on this diaspora is yet available. The serial Utkal Barta will enable one to assess the taste and aspirations of this diaspora readership.
Published from the southern town of Berhampur in Odisha, The Swadesha Lakshmi, a monthly Odia journal, was concerned with “agricultural and cognate trades and industries.” It was brought out by Gunnaiah Sastri, a Telugu public intellectual who worked for the cause of the Odisha Unification movement. It was printed at the Shri Saraswati Press, Berhampur. Only one bound volume for the year 1906 is available. It is the subject matter of the periodical that draws our attention. Railways came late to Odisha in 1896. Trade and industrial fairs began to be organized around the same time. The journal will help scholars delineate local reflections on the provincial economy of the region.
The Light was a “monthly paper and criticism” of the American Baptist Mission at Balasore, a town in the northern parts of Odisha. It was edited and published by H. N. Sahu, the librarian of the Mission. It was published in both Bengali and Odia languages. For Bengali, one bound volume for 1934, and for Odia, three bound volumes for the years 1933, 35, 38 are available. Given its denominational character, the paper will of interest to historians of Christian missions in the region.