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Lord Jagannath and Odia Nationalism- The culture that makes Odisha more tolerant today

Going back to the time when Mughals were ruling across India, Odia speaking people were divided into several tracts. The then rulers of Odia kingdoms sensed the need to unite the people to safeguard the kingdom from invasion. In the Rajbhog section of Madala Panji Lord Jagannath has been described as the king of the Odisha kingdom .

The rulers during those times took help from Lord Jagannatha to unite people and safeguard Odisha from external forces'' invasion

The attack by Kala Pahada on Lord Jagannath further strengthened the bond of the Odia language speaking community and it led to a massive boost in Odia Nationalism. Odia literature work especially novels and poems by Jagannath Das and other medieval authors during the 1the the,18 century gave Lord Jagannath the most prominent place. Most of the authors used to write Bhajanas, narrative poems in the Odia language which led to building another strong link between Odia Nationalism and Lord Jagannatha.

During the Paika rebellion when Buxi Jagabandhu was on his way to ask Lord Mukunda Deva to take leadership, the morale was highly boosted when all priests of Lord Jagannath decided to support them and publicly announced British rule will end in Odisha. Odia nationalism was at its peak during this time and Lord Jagannath was being seen as a symbol of Oneness.

Lord Jagannath was also seen as a very secular God when Britishers were trying to take over the management of the temple from the local king after a court case. Christian Odia Lawyer, Madhusudan Das challenged the verdict in a higher court and managed to win which led to the return of control of the King over the management of the Puri temple. Hindu population-based in Odisha also assisted in the swift passage to Lord Jagannatha centred Odia nationalism The acceptability of Lord Jagganath cutting across all religions can be seen during Ratha Yatra when the lord himself steps outside of his house to ensure people from all religions can meet him irrespective of their religious belief.

Example of Odisha's unity among diversity is given across the country. Despite having so many heterogeneous groups of people , all are united by Lord Jagannath . This belief towards Lord Jagannath has helped Odia nationalism to create a shield of unity against all kinds of hatred-ness being spread in society.

(Source: Cult of Lord Jagannath Book)

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