Bhubaneswar: The tribal culture of Odisha is very rich and women have key role to play  in their traditions.  However, Padma Shri Pratibha Rai, an eminent writer, said it was wrong to weigh them on the scale of modernity without knowing about their geographical, traditional practices.

Joining the Kandhamal Literary Festival online on Sunday as the keynote speaker, Ray spoke about tribal culture and the origins of Kandhamal.

Ray, who has spent time researching and experiencing tribal villages during her teaching career, said that the tribal culture and traditions are based on the geographical location and social environment there.

She further added that it was wrong for the modern civil society to measure tribal people, who do not believe in any caste system, according to the customs of modern society.  Once upon a time, today’s civilized people lived like tribals and we should not judge them, she added.

In the second online session of the festival, former administrator and writer Arvind Behera, former Kandhamal district collector and ORMAS head Rajesh Patil and Vijay Patnaik, who works in the field of tribal culture protection, discussed on the topic , “Kandhamal is a Realisation: the past, the present and the future.

The panel discussed the development of the forest economy and natural resources of Kandhamal district.  Participating in the discussion, Rajesh Patil said that ginger and turmeric of Kandhamal, despite being the main financial crop, cannot compete with other states’ turmeric at the national level.

He said for development of the area in the field of food processing private investment is needed along with government intervention.  encouraged ordinary people as well to take part in solving this great task: “One of the things you and other people can do is keep up the pressure … there are going to be some difficult decisions for government”.

As Kandhamal is a tribal-dominated district, the former administrator and author, Arvind Behera, said that communication and the development of local literature in the local language would help pave the way for the protection of the rich culture of Kandhamal and would provide ways and means for development.

Vijay Patnaik, a tribal cultural activist, said the tribals were more aware of their rights than ever before.

In the festival, a total of four sessions were held on Sunday, all online , where various regional literary artists took part and placed their opinions.