Expressing concern over the growing distance between the English-driven new generation and their own language, writers today warned that this could lead to a loss of the native culture.
“Read a lot, read in your own language. Otherwise you stand to lose the whole richness of your own culture”, acclaimed children’s writer Anushka Ravishankar exhorted school students, who had come together for an absorbing session of story-telling on the second day of the Odisha Literary Festival 2013 here on Friday.
Attention to the issue was drawn by noted academic and translator Prof Bikram Das, who observed that children of today were becoming more and more alienated from their own language and consequently their own culture.
“There seems to be a division between two cultures, one English educated and the other Odia. I have come across parents with children studying in English medium schools not wanting their wards to even speak in Odia”, Das said.
Anushka averred this phenomenon is not restricted to Odisha only. Wherever you go, situation is the same. People are not reading in their own language. “I could not do it as I grew up in Mumbai, not my own State of Kerala. But you are lucky in Odisha, which has rich literary heritage. Read in your own language and discover the treasures”, she told the youngsters.
Odisha’s very own children’s writer Dash Benhur called upon the children to be proud of Odia language and culture while stressing the need for more translation of Odia works to bring it before the wider world audience.
Both masters of storytelling, Anushka and Dash Benhur, held the house jam-packed with children from the leading schools like Sai International, DAV Schools, DPS Kalinga, Mothers Public School and Sainik School in rapt attention as they recited tales from their books.
Anushka read out from her famous book ‘Tales from the Arabian Nights’ as Dash Benhur told two stories __ one in English and the other in Odia, a tale of a Lion King fleeing from a fight with a monkey which he left open-ended, pushing the children to guess the correct climax.
Benhur emphasised that stories should combine fun and enlightenment as they depict real life and hold valuable answers within. “When you are reading a story, you are not only enjoying the fun, but also learning about your culture, tradition and history”, he said. Prof Das also suggested giving more scope to translation in Indian literature along with Odia literature in the next editions of OLF.
Editorial Director of ‘The New Indian Express’ Prabhu Chawla assured that the festival would carry on in the coming years. “The idea is to promote Odia and make it part of mainstream discussions in the country, which is missing. We are striving to revive the pride of Odias in their own language through this endeavour”, he asserted.