Shree Dadhibamana Temple also known as the Srikshetra of Western Odisha is a 400 years old temple in Bargarh, Odisha. Being one of the prominent places for the religion practice in the Western Odisha, the temple has a record room with 250 ancient palm leaf manuscripts in Odia language, which dates back to 16th century. These palm leaf manuscripts consist the story of Mahabharat, Ramayana, Skanda Purana and on the history of the temple.
The 400-year-old manuscripts are on the verge of erosion, and the Temple administration and Temple trust have preserved the pothi with the help of various chemicals. The process of preservation of the manuscripts was started in last 2-3 years where the student volunteers of different colleges in Bhatli helped the temple administration in identifying and storing the manuscripts.
Minati Sahoo, a well known social activist in Bargarh and few other journalist explained the importance of digitisation of the manuscript to the temple administration and took permission for digitising the manuscripts in the month of March. One of the Panda (Temple priest), Pandit Shri Goura Chandra Ratha released his book Jay Shree Dadhibamana under Creative Commons 4.0 license. A three day long digitisation camp will be organised in Bhatli for orienting the students on Wikipedia and the process of digitization, also the manuscripts will be digitised during that period.
After getting the confirmation from the Temple administration, an orientation program was organised in Imperial College, for orienting the students of the college about the digitisation process, also to introduce them the pothi digitisation which the students will take part.
With more than 40 participants the workshop was mainly a Wikipedia Orientation program for the students which provided an idea of the movement to them, and how they can use the digitisation skill for the preservation of the language.
This digitisation project will bring different manuscripts into Odia Wikipedia, and will also help in spreading awareness about the digitisation of language in western Odisha. After scanning the manuscripts the Odia Wikipedia community will take help from the students for uploading, digitising and proofreading the manuscripts.
“Wikipedians reaching towards Western Odisha, to spread the digitization movement of Odia language with the help of Odia Wikipedia”
From the last 2-3 years, Odia Wikipedia community was able to organize workshops and outreach programs in different parts of the coastal and central Odisha. With over 38 active Wikipedians (As of 2016), Odia community is growing day to day and increasing its capacity in different parts of Odisha. The increase in the number of Wikipedians in western Odisha inspired the Wikipedians to conduct a workshop about Wikipedia in Sambalpur University.
On 27th November 2016 an orientation cum workshop program for Odia Wikipedia was organized for the students of Computer Science and Application department and Odia department in Sambalpur University. 57 participants consisting 30 male and 27 female participants including 5 faculty members attended the event. Dr. Chitta Ranjan Tripathy, the Vice-chancellor of the University was the guest of honor at the workshop. Three Wikipedians; Mrutyunjay Kar, Jnanaranjan Sahu, Sailesh Patnaik, and Nistha Ranjan Dash attended the workshop for mentoring the participants.
The workshop started with an introduction to Odia Wikipedia, digitization and Wikipedians present there by Dr. (Mrs) Sarada Baboo, Professor Computer Science, and Application department. The first two hours before lunch was for proper orientation of Wikimedia projects for the participants which included different Wikimedia projects, How to contribute in them, Wikipedia policies and Odia Wikipedia and its journey. Post lunch there was two hours training for participants on How to create accounts, articles, and other basic things. During the training session, almost 20 or above Wikipedians were able to create accounts.
Workshop in Sambalpur University was an important step to spread the awareness about Wikipedia movement in Western Odisha, This was the first workshop in Sambalpur University, and the second workshop in western Odisha after three years. Sambalpur University has almost 196 colleges under its affiliation in seven different districts in western Odisha. A regular follow up with University, faculties, and students will help in building an active community in western Odisha.
On this June 14, Google Developer Group Bhubaneswar organized an extended I/O at Bhubaneswar. To my surprise, I found that there were more than 60 participants attending the conference. Basanta Kumar Maharana. TELL WHO HE IS was the speaker at the event. Basanta shared his memories from Google I/O 2015, San Francisco and demonstrated about the new launch and updates of Google. It was quite interesting for me to learn about various Google apps (?) kike Google cardboard, Android M, etc.
In an informal interaction with the host Sanjib Parida, he proposed me to speak about Odia Wikipedia there who came to know about the project while attending Odia Wikipedia’s 13th anniversary.
I started my talk by asking four questions to the audience:
How many of the audience know about Wikipedia? (Everyone raised hands.)
Who has copied content from Wikipedia for assignments? (People giggled about it, 50-60% of the participants nodded saying yes!)
Who knows that anyone can “edit” Wikipedia? (the count reduced to about 10-20%)
Who knows about Odia Wikipedia and contributes in creating and editing articles? (Only 4-5 people said yes, I found 2-3 of them being contributors to Odia Wikipedia)
I started my talk with a brief introduction to the history of Odia Wikipedia and how it was started in 2002 as one of the first four Indic languages Wikipedia projects along with Assamese, Malayalam, and Punjabi.
Odia Wikipedia was in dormant for the next eight years which was intervened when Wikimedians like Subhashish Panigrahi, Ashutosh Kar, Anshuman Giri, Mrutyunjaya Kar and others started building a community to improve and increase the content of Odia Wikipedia. Now we have grown as a community consisting about 17 active editors and the project has more than 8800 articles. The monthly page view of Odia Wikipedia has grown to more than 800,000 from merely 200,000 in 2011. We have three active Odia-language Wikimedia projects; Odia Wikipedia, the largest Odia online encyclopedia, online library Odia Wikisource, and multilingual online dictionary Odia Wiktionary. Odia Wikipedia community has not limited their work only in editing articles, rather has expanded into many other aspects of Odia computing. On the day of Odia Wikipedia’s 13th anniversary, it has launched a converter that can convert many non-Unicode encodings into Unicode. We have been supported by CIS-A2K for many activities to grow our community and the Odia Wikimedia projects. Like Odia Wikipedia, we have 20 more Wikipedia projects in other Indic languages and in over 288 languages globally. Hindi Wikipedia among all the Indic Wikipedia projects has the highest number of articles whereas Malayalam Wikipedia has the highest number of quality articles.
Pictured above: Participants at the conference organized by the Google Developer Group at Bhubaneswar
Some of the state governments have been quite open and positive in bringing Wikipedia into academics. The Government of Kerala has introduced Wikipedia contribution in its curriculum for BA and MA students and The Government of Tamilnadu has introduced Tamil Wikipedia to participants at the International Tamil Conference which helped the Tamil Wikimedia community in expanding the community. Awareness and community building are two major challenges for us at this moment. I invited the participants there to take part in the Wikimedia movement.
I touched upon the Odia input for the audience. While it was quite difficult a few years back for Odia input it is no longer a challenge. With the help of the Android app “Indic Keyboard, ” we can also edit Odia Wikipedia from mobile phones. I myself have used it for editing Wikipedia, for tweeting and posting Facebook status in Odia. After the talk, I was asked a few questions. There are two important ones I would like to share here. To the question “how can I contribute to Odia Wikipedia? Do I have to install any keyboard for it?” I elaborated how anyone can edit and expand articles or create new Wikipedia articles in Odia just by creating a new account and logging into https://or.wikipedia.org, and how the Wikimedia projects like Wikipedia have an input tool called Universal Language Selector (ULS) enabled in them and one does not need to install any additional input method. I was asked by one from the here is no support from the government at this moment but we are constant effort to collaborate audience about the Government of Odisha helping to grow Odia Wikipedia.
Many participants came and personally greeted me after the event was over. I was really excited to share the news about our (Odia Wikimedia community’s plans for creating Bhubaneswar Wiki Group/WikiTungi with two active communities in engineering colleges like CET and KIIT. It was a wonderful experience at Google I/O and I hope to grow our Wikimedia community by collaborating with more like-minded communities.
Wikipedia is an online open encyclopedia, where anyone can , with an aim of providing an access to the sum of all human knowledge, Wikipedia is available is 292 languages. From those 292 languages, there is 22 Indic language Wikipedia. Formation of Indic language Wikipedia started in 2002, and 4 Indic languages Odia, Malayalam, Punjabi and Assamese formed in 2002.
Odia language is one of the official language in India with over 40 million speakers in Odisha and its neighboring states. Odia language has also been recognized as one of the “classical languages” by the Government of India. Open source movement and awareness are very less in Odisha. Odia Wikipedia is one of the open access and open source platform which provides users to access its content and invites them to write or edit its content.
Odia Wikipedia, being one of the first four Indic languages Wikipedia, celebrated its 14th anniversary on 3 June 2016. This 14-year-old website has the largest online content repository for the Odia language in Unicode and is also the largest online Odia encyclopedia. Started in 2002, Odia Wikipedia was dormant for almost 9 years. Content creation and Users activity started from 2011 with 3 active editors. To celebrate the 14th Anniversary, Odia Wikipedia community gathered in Bhubaneswar for a 2 days training and community consultation.
“What Odia Wikipedia community did in last 14years?”
Started with 3 active editors, Odia Wikipedia now has 29 active editors (as of January 2016). The community did a lot of efforts to spread awareness on Odia Wikipedia in Odisha.
With over hundreds of meetups and workshops, the community was able to form its base in cities like Nalco Nagar, Bhubaneswar, Cuttack, and Puri. Online campaigning through social media accounts and Edit-a-thons has also helped the Odia community in getting new editors on board.
With the help of the Wikimedians and Wikipedia Education program at KISS, Odia Wikipedia community made Odia Wikisource a live project from Incubator. Odia Wikisource is the largest online library available in Odia language with more than 382 books and community with the help of CIS-A2K has acquired more than 800 books from Srujanika and re-licensed under CC-BY-SA 4.0.
Not only in content part, Odia Wikimedians has also helped in creating a Unicode converter for Odia language which converts non-Unicode texts into Unicode. Wikimedians are also trying to develop an open source OCR and free fonts for Odia language.
Odia Wikipedia has always supported volunteers from different age group and of the different gender to contribute in it. With 72-year-old Wikimedian Dr. Subas Chandra Rout (a very active Wikimedian and has written highest number of medical science related article on Odia Wikipedia) to 15 years old Satyabrata Sahoo, all have contributed from their part for the growth of Odia Wikipedia.
Odia Wikipedia has also bridged the gender gap with 10 active female contributors, from Pankajamala Sarangi (The most active Wikilibrarian) to Aliva Sahoo(Having articles in top 10 longest articles list). Odia Wikipedia has a 60:40 male, female contribution ratio.
One of the major challenges of every Wikimedia project is Editor retention. It is a major challenge for Odia Wikipedia as well. Most of the Wikimedians are volunteers to the project and contribute on their own will and it’s difficult to force them to contribute to Wikipedia.
Awareness is also a major challenge for Odia Wikipedia, from past few years activities Odia Wikipedia was able to reach towards central and coastal part of Odisha. The community has to reach toward every part to spread awareness about the importance of digitization of language.
Content acquiring and content sharing is also one of the major challenges for Odia Wikimedians, Availability of content in Odia language is very less and most of them are copyrighted. Being an Open source platform Odia Wikipedia never allows copyrighted content in it. The community has to share and spread awareness about Open source and Open Access with Odia Wikipedia.
With achievements and challenges, Odia Wikipedia is increasing step by step to provide the free resource to everyone and avail the sum of all human knowledge in Odia.