Ray of Hope for Odisha’s dying tribal languages : Odia techie digitalizes ‘Saura’ script


Rayagada:  In a ray of hope for the dying tribal languages, the ‘Saura script’, the written script of the Saura indigenous community of Odisha has been digitalized, making it the 6th tribal language to be digitalized.

Soni Salma Priyadarshini, a techie and and aluminus of the famed IIT Bombay has successfully digitalized the script after years of research.

With digitalization, books and printed materials in Saura script can now be available in the internet, designed and printed using a computer.

In 2016, Sony enrolled in IIT Bombay to study industrial design. He later wrote his own project on typography. Born in Rayagada, Soni began his efforts to create a computerized alphabet of Saura script to educate this generation in the Saura language. After years of research and active supervision of IIT professor Girish Dalvi, she has become successful in converting the 25 characters and 10 digits of Saura script into the digital format.

There are as many as 62 tribal communities living in Odisha, each community have their distinct identity, culture and language. However, the languages of only 5 communities have been digitalised so far. With the digitalization of the Saura language, more than 30,000 Saura communities living in Ganjam, Gajapati and Rayagada districts of the state will be benefited.  Now, with the national education policy 2020 emphasising on mother tongue education, digitalization of the tribal language will be instrumental in preparing education material for the Saura script.


History of Saura Script

Shabar Pandit Mangey Gamang created the Saura alphabet in 1936 to bring reform within the Shabar community. The script has 24 characters and 4 numbers in scripted on the stonewall ofthe Mata Banam hill. Mangai has set up 25 sub-centers, Saura Bhasha Shiksha Shiksha Kendra in Odisha and all the tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh for the promotion and dissemination of the Saura language. Mangei was awarded the title of “Shabar Pandit” by the Odisha Sahitya Academy in 1979 for his contribution to the tribal literature.

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