To Mr. Markandey Katju
Respected Mr. Katju, this is my first open letter to anybody in social media thanks to your derogatory remarks about Odisha and its people. Though you have apologized for your remarks, still culturally we believe that your act can be categorized as “Goitha Mari Vishnu Kahiba” meaning “to kick somebody intentionally and then apologizing for the same by taking the name of Vishnu (Hari)”. And it seems true when one reads the lines “Hari Om” at the end of your chain of derogatory posts. So by posting a mere apology you should not think that this episode is over and the Odias will forgive you for hurting their sentiments. Being an Odia myself it is my duty to clarify your misconceptions regarding Odisha and its people.
Now about the first point you made in your post i.e. “after getting thrashing at the hands of Ashoka in the battle of Kalinga Odias have been a dejected lot.” I would say that “Picture abhi baki hai mere dost”. Because you have not followed the post-history of Kalinga War. After the defeat in the devastating Kalinga War, the Kaḷingan military might was reinstated by Kharavela who led many successful campaigns against the states of Magadha (previously ruled by Ashoka), Anga, Satavahanas till the southern most regions of Pandyan Empire (modern Tamil Nadu) and made Kaḷinga a gigantic empire.
Now about the second point of your post i.e. “Now all they have with them are a lot of pots ( Patras ), big pots ( Mahapatras ), and supposedly intelligent kings ( Patnaiks ).” I would say that Odisha is not just about the people having the surnames of Patra, Mahapatra or Patnaiks, it is also glorified by the people having other surnames such as Das (Nandita Das, actress who has won many international awards), Panda (Nila Madhab Panda, Film director who has won many international awards), Beura (Krishna Beura, famous bollywood singer), Chand (Dutee Chand, current women’s 100 Meter National Record holder), Rout (Padmini Rout, Women Chess player who represented India in the last Chess Olympiad), Nag (Haldhar Nag, poet who was awarded Padma Shri recently), Kar (Rajasmita Kar, former winner of Dance India Dance, a dance reality television show telecasted on Zee TV) and many others. People of Odisha have succeeded nationally and internationally in all parts of life.
Regarding the last point of your post i.e. “And of course they have Lord Jaggannath, to whom they pray every day for revenge on the abominable Biharis.” Mr Katju, Lord Jagannath is the nerve centre of Odisha. We just don’t pray Him but we live with Him. All the deities are worshipped if He is worshipped, and visit to His place or Ksetra is the culmination of all pilgrimages and one achieves liberation or moksha just by having a darshan or glimpse of Him. Even Rishi Markandey after whom you have been probably named visited His Ksetra and worshipped Him. So praying Him to take revenge is too small a thing to ask for.
Lastly I conclude with a quote by R.G. Risch – Respect is a two-way street, if you want to get it, you’ve got to give it.
A proud Odia