Express News Service
BHUBANESWAR: Raja Parija is not your normal bureaucrat. He is on a mission to preserve and promote Odisha’s cultural heritage, the land’s way of life, its glorious past portrayed by the grand temples and monuments, weaves and traditions, etc.
Every part and aspect of Odisha has its own unique story to tell, which Parija, now posted as the Director of State ST and SC Development department, has strived to document through coffee-table books and most from his own funds and resources.
Having spent years studying several aspects of this domain, Parija is now on a mission to document each craft, textile and heritage tradition of Odisha. He has already authored five heritage and culture-related books and the latest offering from the author is ‘Royal Heritage of Odisha’, which took him eight years to complete.
The book not only documents the palaces and fascinating stories associated with them, but also chronicles the history of erstwhile princely states of Odisha under British India. “Palaces have a lot of tourism value which has not been explored in the right earnest in our State. There are only a handful surviving today which are in a good state of preservation.
There is a need to document this royal heritage of Odisha”, said Parija, who travelled over 10,000 km across the State to get first-hand information from members of royal families. The book brings together stories of the royal families and their palaces with a variety in content, including beautiful photographs, that will keep readers engaged.
Belonging to Cuttack, Parija has been documenting Odisha’s heritage since 2015. A year later, he released his first book on Cuttack’s famed silver filigree craft titled ‘Silver Splendour of Millennium City’.”The book was born out of the necessity to document the filigree craft which is dying in Cuttack but thriving in other filigree pockets of the country”, said the writer who prior to joining the State government, was a freelance photographer.
In between ‘Silver Splendour of Millennium City’ and ‘Royal Heritage of Odisha’, Parija has authored books on Netaji Subash Bose (titled Netaji Was Born Here), museums of Cuttack, applique craft of Pipili (Celebrating Colours) and the tassar fabric of Odisha (Divine Fabric), all the four being first of its kind books.
Considering the fact that the readership for the culture and heritage genre is limited, Parija says it is his passion towards art and craft that motivates him to keep writing about them. “UNESCO has rightly said that heritage is our legacy from the past, what we live with today, and what we pass on to our future generations. My books are aimed at passing on information about Odisha’s rich culture to the future generations. These books are also for those who know the subjects and want to widen the horizon in that domain”, he said. Parija is currently working on another book on tribal textiles of the State.