Back in year 2000, a few Odia families living in Tokyo area used to meet often on various occasions such as birthdays, Diwali, Dussera etc. The main objective of these gatherings was to spend some quality time, speak in Odia and eat Odia food. As time passed by and more and more Odia families came to Tokyo, it led to the formation of a formal group to celebrate those events on a large scale.
13 February 2005 – The first formal gathering on a large scale was organized where more than 100 people participated to celebrate Saraswati Puja. Late Mr. Manilal Tripathy, Ambassador of India to Japan then, had graced the occasion.
The group continued to celebrate Saraswati Puja as its annual event along with occasional gatherings during festive occasions such as Diwali, Sakura etc.
June 2008 – Officially registered as social and cultural organization (registration number – 412) at Koto-ku ward office of Tokyo as Odisha Community of Japan (OCJ). Many ideas to include words like Orissa, Utkala, Kalinga etc. were floating. After much deliberation, the consensus was reached by the core members to use “Odisha”. This is the same year, Union Ministry in Delhi had granted the change of name of Orissa state to Odisha.
Between June 2008 and June 2013, under the banner of OCJ, the group organized many cultural events such as Rath yatra, Saraswati Puja. The first Rath Yatra was conducted in year 2008 at Misato. The group also supported relief activities by visiting Ishinomaki during earthquake in 2011.
In year 2014, the original group was split and the core members along with other members were divided. The group name was re-registered (registration number – 36) as Odisha Community of Japan Tokyo (OCJT) at same Koto-ku ward office of Tokyo.
Since then the group has been continuing to organize the traditional events (Rath Yatra and Saraswati Puja). It has also added Utkala Divasa, Ganesh Puja and Diwali to its annual events calendar.
For 2 years (2014 and 2015) OCJT provided support to 2 blind girls from Odisha for their higher education. Few members of the group are also supporting the education of poor students in Odisha. The group is exploring to contribute other charitable activities as part of its giving back to community program.