Migration Narratives: The SHRAM Blog

Odia Plumbers’ Collective meet- celebrating cultural identity: Gram-Utthan

Gram Utthan has been organising plumbers’ collective gatherings in Mumbai for the past two years. Also being a celebration of Maha Bisuba Panasankranti, Odia Nababarsa and Ambendkar Jayanti, this day was an important one for Mumbai Odia migrants. Nearly 300 Odia migrants celebrated Odia Nababarsa along with the plumbers’ collective meeting.

Odia Plumbers Collective, MumbaiAbhaya Kumar Maharaj shared issues and concerns faced by Odia unorganised sector workers and emphasised the importance of forming a collective in Mumbai. He discussed welfare measures undertaken by the Odisha government, and highlighted the importance of BoCW linkages, leadership, legal literacy and financial literacy. He also discussed the adverse impact of migration, and how it affects the culture of Odia migrants.

D.K Padhihary shared that many Odia migrants were suffering many hardships in Mumbai, and exhorted migrants to take courage, and lean on one another for support. Collectives thus along with mobilising for rights and entitlements, become a source of social and cultural support for migrants. Meetings such as these also become an opportunity for other members of the community to extend their support to migrant networks. A medical professional, Mr. Behera, came forward to pledge medical services to the Odia migrant community at the meeting and offer his support, emphasising his door was always open for them.

Gram Utthan plumber's collective meetMr. Panda discussed the merits of collectives, and emphasised that migrants must make every effort to organise themselves. Maitri Kamala, a brave an energetic individual, shared a moving poem with the gathering; and the hall reverberated with the cry: ‘We are Odia, We are a khanti Odia’. She emphasised the need for promoting Odia culture amongst these migrants, and an annual cultural event was proposed.

The celebration also became an opportunity to for migrant workers to share their life stories and experiences with others in similar situations. Mr. Sahoo shared his own experiences as an Odia migrant in Mumbai, and drawing from his own experiences, shared that his goal was to secure every potential youth migrant from Odisha a good position in Mumbai. B.N Sethi shared his experiences and struggles in the construction industry in Mumbai.

Gram Utthan Plumbers' Collective meet


The occasion was replete with song and energy, and was an opportunity for this group of migrants to celebrate their roots and cultural identity and break bread together, as well as strategise collectively about their lives and work in the city.

Radhika M. Chakraborty

Radhika M. Chakraborty

Radhika M Chakraborty has completed a degree in English Literature from Delhi University and a Master's degree in Women's Studies from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai. Her research interests include gender and migration, diasporas, Partition, internal displacement and Sindhi culture.
Radhika M. Chakraborty

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