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Bande Utkala Janani: From Freedom Movement to State Anthem

Bande Utkala Janani
Bande Utkala Janani (courtesy mycitylinks.com)

English Translation

I adore Thee, O Mother Utkala! How loving are thy smile and voice! O Mother! Mother! Mother!

Bath’d art Thou by the sacred Sea, Thy shores adorned with trees tall and green, Balmy breeze blowing by beauteous streams, O Mother! Mother! Mother!

Thy body bedecked with dense woodlands, Arrayed with verdant hills plaited like waves, Thy sky ringing with choirs of singing birds, O Mother! Mother! Mother!

How charming are Thy rich fields of paddy ! Thou art Eye to Erudition enow, Sacred Abode to saints and seers, O Mother! Mother! Mother!

Thy land bejewelled with splendid shrines, Richly dress’d art Thou in varied arts, Thy limbs studded with sacred sites, O Mother! Mother! Mother!

Thou Home to the valiant heroes of Utkala, Thy frame crimsoned with enemies’ blood, Prime Darling of the whole universe, O Mother! Mother! Mother!

Greeted by Thy great sons, the crowning bards, Thy untarnished glory proclaimed all around, Blessed art Thou, the Holy, the Unfailing Abode, I adore Thee, O Mother! Mother! Mother!

Laxmikanta Mohapatra

The Story of Bande Utkala Janani

This strongly evocative song was penned by literary doyen Kantakabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra in 1912 in the midst of two prolonged movements – the Freedom movement of India and the movement for separate Odisha province. 

Bande Utkala Janani was used as a powerful weapon by Utkal Sammilani, a socio-cultural organisation that spearheaded  the movement for creation of Odisha as a separate province. The song inspired a whole generation of freedom fighters of Odisha to fight against the British.

This song underlines the spirit of indomitable Odisha. It portrays Odisha’s splendid natural beauty, its past glory, God’s bounty to the State, its holy shrines, its arts, crafts and heritage; its history, culture and literature; its rich tradition and its peaceful social living in the most vivid forms. The song envisages the land of Utkala who maintains her self-respect and dignity with confidence and strength rather than insecurity and fear even during trying times

This song was first sung at the Utkala Sammilani General Session at Balasore in 1912. Utkalmani Gopabandhu Das and Utkala Gaurav Madhusudan Das were among those who were present at the session. Gopabandhu, who was presiding over Utkala Sammilani, was so moved by the song that at the end of the session he hugged a young Laxmikanta with tears of joy coming out of his eyes and said “Today you have made my darshan of Utkala Mata.” Madhusudan was also equally overwhelmed by the powerful song. Soon the song spread around and had a spellbinding effect all across Odisha.

Bande Utkala Janani was immortalised when it was sung when Odisha became a separate State on 1st April 1936.

It was in 1994 that the Odisha Assembly resolved to sing Bande Utkala Janani at the end of every session. Since then many deliberations were started in a trial to make it the state song. 

Naveen Patnaik
CM Naveen Patnaik with commemoration plaque celebrating Bnde Utkala Janani as State Anthem (courtesy Hindustan Times)

The Odisha State Cabinet chaired by the CM through video conferencing put its stamp on the proposal to accord the State song status to Bande Utkala Janani on June 7th 2020.

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