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Welcome To California Oriya Community

About Us Prusta

We represent a community of people with origin from Orissa, a very picturesque and beautiful state of India, on the east coast by the Bay of Bengal. Our community also includes those who have an affinity to Orissa by marriage or those bound deeply to the artistic history and culture of Orissa. Orissa is well-known for it's - unique temples and sculptures, unique dance form called Odissi, and it's unique paintings called "pattachitra". The Oriya language is a derivative of Sanskrit and is very rich in it's literary works spanning over thousands of years.

During the 1950's and 1960's, a few Oriya people started arriving at various university campuses in California as graduate students. At one time, the UC, Berkeley had 10 students. During the 1970's, the bay area saw the presence of about ten families while southern California had less than that. The big growth started during the decade of the 1980s. By the end of that decade, we had a population of around 100 in the bay area and about 50 in southern California. The 1990s saw a real influx of new people, thanks to the growth of high-tech in the valley. By the middle of 2000, we have over 500 people (including children) in the San Francisco bay area including Sacramento, and around 200 people in southern California. It is a vibrant community with many ongoing activities.

An annual Oriya picnic, started back in 1976, brings people from north and south for a 3-day get-together in a location such as lake Tahoe, Yosemite Park, Sequoia Park, Pismo Beach, Moro Bay, or Santa Barbara. Families drive to these locations and stay together in rented houses for 3 days of fun and activities. During the early 1980s, Vishuva Milan (Orissa Day) was celebrated for a few years with an evening cultural program and photo exhibitions. Since 1994, the annual Rath Yatra (Car Festival) is being celebrated at the Fremont temple with a "pritibhoj" served by the community to hundreds of guests. Twice in the past, The Orissa Society of the Americas (OSA, a national organization of Orissa established since 1969) held its annual convention in California - first time in 1987 at the Stanford University campus; and second time in 1998 at Monterey. Over the years, many artists (dancers and singers) have performed in California. They include such names as dancer Guru Kelu Charan Mohapatra, the late Sanjukta Panigrahi and singers, Pandit Raghunath Panigrahi, Sikandar Alam, Akhyaya Mohanty, Pranab Patnaik, and Prafulla Kar. Various scholars (the late Gopinath Mohanty, Rajat Kar, Manorama Mohapatra, Kabi Prasad Mishra, Chandra Sekhar Rath, and Manoj Das) have come to deliver lectures on Orissa's literature, art and culture. We have amongst us, a talented group of second generation Odissi dancers in California. An Oriya language class was offered during 1992-1994 and has been revived recently. A group of dedicated self-less social workers have formed the Oriya Sevak group to carry out philanthropic activities in Orissa right after the super-cyclone of 1999.

This web-site depicts all the above activities and serves as the primary communication forum for the Oriya community in California.


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