Tracing of the People of Odisha
It is said that Odras as a race and their country of the same name were known since the early periods of history. The people of Odisha find profuse mention in the epics of Ramayana, Mahabharata, Manu Samhita, Natyashastra of Bharata Muni and various Indian Puranas and other religious texts of ancient India. In the Ramayana, the Odras are mentioned as a race and the name of their country is likewise given according to the name of the race. Odras are considered to be the earliest Aryan settlers of this region. They have been described as Vratyas in the institutes of Manu who were degraded and deprived of the caste for non-observance of religious rites. They were placed, in the equal rank of Poundras and Dravidas. It might have been the fact that the Odras had to compromise with the powerful Kalingans whom they conquered, and the Dravidas of adjoining regions, and their continued dwelling together for a considerable period of time resulted in assimilation of certain traits of their culture which aroused the indignation of the Vedic Aryans.
Evolution of Odisha People
History reveals that originally the Odras were the Vratyas, the Aryans who did not come to the fold of the Vedic Aryans. History proves that they were known as men of valour and skilful warriors, the Kshatriyas. Therefore, their entry to Kalinga and subsequent formation of Odra kingdom was an easy task for them. They drove away the tribal people, the earliest settlers of the land into the hilly hinter-lands and settled in the fertile plains and river-basins as successful agriculturists.
Modern Odisha People
Till today, Oda-chasa or the Odias are the important agriculturists of the State. While living as agriculturists they did not refrain from martial activities. They used to continue their practice of war during the tone of peace and were rising to the occasion for defence or offence as desired by their chieftains. While the Odras were peacefully living in the plains, another group of Aryans probably the Utkalas invaded this land. The Odras as they concentrated more on agriculture now suffered severe defeat in their hands and took refuge in the mountainous regions of Western Odisha. It has been mentioned earlier that the main occupation of the Odras was war and cultivation. The Savaras which numbers more than one million now living in Odisha claim themselves to be the earliest inhabitants of Odisha.
Administration of Odisha and its People
Regarding the administration of Odisha it is said that till the beginning of the 12th century different parts of modern Odisha were ruled by various ruling-clans known as Chedis, Sailodbhavas, Bhoumakaras, Nandas, Tungas Bhanjas, Somas or Kesaris, Kalachuris and Haihayas etc. In the contemporary times all the Oriya-speaking people of Odisha do not belong to the ancient Odra, Kalinga, Utkala or any other particular race or community.
Religion in Odisha
Finally it can be concluded saying that the Indian tradition by which one means Hindu tradition is stronger and broad-based among the people of Odisha than in people of most of the other regions of India. It is because, in the process of the integration of India, the indigenous art, religion and culture of Odisha have mostly contributed in the direction of a national assimilation and syntheses.