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Dharitri - Celebrating Mother Earth

Non-Resident Indians across the globe incline towards creating their own community. Not that they are unable to adapt to their host countries’ habits and behaviours; the objective behind associating to their own community is to stay rooted. Because they often miss their culture, because they often feel lonely and because they would prefer their children to know and be aware of atleast some of the basics of what their parents represent and identify with.

While Germany is still in the process of opening up to the skilled workforces (only recently the opportunity card was introduced) to fill the gap of their labour shortage, Indians here have adhered to their age old customs. However, the interesting part is the sub-identities or what is popularly known as regional identities are also celebrated by the NRIs. Indians in Germany have began to form their own small communities.

One such association is the Utkal Samaj Rhein-Main e.V. It is based in Frankfurt and as the name typically suggests has people primarily belonging to the state of Odisha as their members. The leaders and the founders organise myriad festivals throughout the year to stay connected to the life that they have left behind in their home country.

Interestingly enough the oganisers have started a festival titled Dharitri which implies earth. As the name suggests, this festival is all about celebrating womanhood and nature. "We respect nature as mother – the creator of this universe" said Amit Kumar Rawal, vice-president of the association. The festival began in 2023. The programme emphasises the importance of protecting mother earth but in a language that is easily understood and relatable to the common people. The participation and enthusiasm of the people is palpable.

Important events are organised surrounding this day long festival – less or no use of  plastics, waste management, usage of sustainable products etc. These are not just communicated but practiced throughout the day to raise public awareness and to facilitate the process of incorporating such changes in the mindset and behaviours for long term purposes.

Gifts in the form of presenting saplings or plants are distributed. There are separate programmes for children i.e. "Dharitri- Show Your Art"  to make them excited about this global event of sustainability and encourage their participation.

The other interesting part of this festival is celebration of Odia Earth called Raja. It showcases Odia culture, art, food and ofcourse handloom. Most Indian women, no matter, where they travel would never forget to pack an ethnic wear for their special day !

This is an important way of reaching out to the ordinary people and raising awareness about this immensely disturbing global event , the impact of which would not just be limited to ourselves but to our future generations.

This year the festival would be celebrated on 16th June 2024 (Sunday). Drawing from their previous experiences regarding the enthusiasm of the people, the organisers are looking forward to an even bigger crowd this year around. But they are all geared up and ready.

Utkal Samaj Rhein-Main e.V.

President: Bibhu Ashish Mohanty

Find the details of this year's programme here: Dharitri2024

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