ORIGIN: A functional registered society in Kochi, Utkalika—Cochin Oriya Association, is a socio-cultural platform that brings together people from Odisha. Even though the association began functioning in an informal manner from 1995, it acquired a formal structure during 2007 largely due to the enthusiasm displayed by a handful of Kochi-based Odiyas.

Today, the association boasts 250 members of which 75 are life members. The annual membership fee is a nominal Rs. 100 while one can be a life member with a one-time remittance of Rs. 1,000. Interestingly, the membership is not limited to Odiyas. Anyone with a keen interest in the language and culture of Odisha are welcome to be a member of the Association.

ACTIVITIES: Be it in volume or range of activities, Utkalika—Cochin Oriya Association might not be a big presence in Kochi. But the enthusiasm in its approach and the sincerity of its activities make the association different from the rest. When it comes to Odisha Formation Day (better known as Utkal Divas), celebrations never take a back seat. Every year, Utkal Divas - that falls on 1st April - is observed with varied cultural programmes by the members. In 2010, Odisha’s finance minister Prafulla Ghadei attended the celebrations as the chief guest. They have also been part of various socio-cultural events floated by the district administration in Kochi.

Recently, Utkalika contributed to the Odisha Chief Minister’s Relief Fund and also felicitated renowned Odiya writer Padmashri Prof. Manoj Das during his visit to Kerala. Publication of an annual journal titled Chandrabhaga is also one of the main activities of the association. In recognition of its work, the Government of Odisha has sanctioned a couple of financial grants to Utkalika in the recent past. The Association is currently pursuing an ambitious plan of having its own premises in Kochi, subject to the approval and allotment of land by the government of Kerala.

IMPACT: Through its various activities, Utkalika—Cochin Oriya Association could become a meeting place for the Odiya diaspora in Kochi.

GETTING IN TOUCH: To know more about Utkalika and its socio-cultural programmes, Call 9496215851 (Secretary) Email: utkalikacochin@gmail.com