Pratibha Ray is an Indian academic and writer. She was born on 21 January 1943, at Alabol, a remote village in the Balikuda area of Jagatsinghpur district formerly part of Cuttack district of Odisha state. She was the first woman to win the Moortidevi Award in 1991.
She is an eminent fiction writer in contemporary India. She writes novels and short stories in her mother tongue Odia. Her first novel Barsha Basanta Baishakha (1974) proved itself as a best seller for its readability among female readers throughout Odisha. She attributed the boldness, the revolt and humanism in her literature, to the impact of Vaishnavism, her family religion, which preaches no caste, no class, and also due to the influence of her Gandhian teacher-father, Parashuram Das.
Her search for a “social order based on equality, love, peace and integration”, continues, since she first penned at the age of nine. When she wrote for a social order, based on equality without class, caste, religion or sex discriminations, some of her critics branded her as a communist, and some as feminist. But she says “I am a humanist. Men and women have been created differently for the healthy functioning of society. The specialities women have been endowed with should be nurtured further. As a human being however, woman is equal to man”.
She continued her writing career even after her marriage and raising a family of three children, for which she credits her parents and her husband. She completed her Masters in Education, and PhD in Educational Psychology while raising her children. Her post-doctoral research was on ‘Tribalism and Criminology of Bondo Highlander’, one of the most primitive tribes of Odisha, India.
She started her professional career as a school teacher, and later she taught in various Government Colleges in Odisha for thirty years. She has guided doctoral research and has published many research articles. She took voluntary retirement as a Professor of Education from State Government Service and joined as Member, Public Service Commission of Odisha.
She has active interest in social reform and has fought against social injustice on many occasions. One important incident in her life is protesting against colour (Caste/ religion) discrimination by the high priests of Jagannath Temple at Puri. Now she is fighting a defamation case lodged by the priests against her for her newspaper article in which she wrote against the undesirable behaviour of the priests, titled “The Colour of Religion is Black” (Dharmara Ranga Kala). She works tirelessly in the cyclone-affected areas after the Odisha’s Super Cyclone of October,1999 and she is working for rehabilitation of the orphans and widows of Cyclone affected areas.
Travelled extensively within India to participate in various National Literary and Educational Conferences. Visited five Republics of the erstwhile USS.R in 1986 in a cultural exchange programme sponsored by ISCUS. Had represented India as an Indian Writer in the India Fair in Australia ” India Today 94″ sponsored by Indian Council for Cultural Relations, New Delhi in 1994. Gave readings and talks on Indian Literature and Languages in several Universities of Australia. Visited USA, U.K and France on speaking tours. Represented India as an Indian Writer in the ‘India Festival’ in Bangladesh in 1996. Attended ‘7th International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women’ in University of Tromsoe, Norway in June 1999 as an Indian delegate. Visited Norway, Sweden, Finland & Denmark on speaking tour in 1999. Visited Zurich, Switzerland in 2000 to present a paper in the ‘Third European Conference on Gender Equality in Higher Education’.
She is a member of a number of learned societies. She is connected with Indian Council for Cultural Relations, Central Board of Film Certification, Indian Red Cross Society, India International Centre, National Book Trust of India, Central Academy of Letters etc. She has travelled extensively in India and abroad to participate in various Literary & Educational Conferences. She has won a number of National and State awards for her creative writing.
- Barsa Basanta Baishakha, 1974
- Aranya”‘, 1977
- Nishidha Prithivi, 1978
- Parichya, 1979
- Aparichita, 1979. (A film was made & won Best Film-Story award from Odisha State Govt., Department of Culture)
- Punyatoya””the story of village girl meghi, 1979. (Tr. To Hindi)
- Meghamedura, 1980
- Ashabari, 1980
- Ayamarambha, 1981
- Nilatrishna, 1981. (Tr. to Hindi)
- Samudrara Swara, 1982. (Tr. to Hindi)
- Shilapadma, 1983. (Odisha Sahitya Academy Award, 1985; Tr. to Assamese, Hindi, Marathi, Malayalam, Punjabi and English)
- Yajnaseni, 1984 (Moorti Devi Award,1991 and Sarala Award, 1990. Tr. to English, Hindi, Malayalam, Marathi, Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hungerian)
- Dehatit, 1986
- Uttarmarg, 1988. (Tr. to Hindi & Punjabi)
- Adibhoomi (Tr. to Hindi & English)
- Mahamoh, 1998 (To be published in Hindi, Bengali & Malayalam)
- Magnamati, 2004
- Maitri Padapara Shakha Prashakha (USSR), 1990
- Dura Dwividha (UK, France), 1999
- Aparadhira Sweda (Australia), 2000
- Samanya Kathana – 1978
- Gangashiuli – 1979
- Asamapta – 1980
- Aikatana – 1981
- Anabana – 1983
- Hatabaksa – 1983
- Ghasa O Akasa
- Chandrabhaga O Chandrakala – 1984
- Shrestha Galpa – 1984
- Abykta (made into a Telefilm) – 1986
- Itibut – 1987
- Haripatra – 1989
- Prthak Isvara – 1991
- Bhagavanara Desa – 1991
- Manushya Swara – 1992
- Swa-nirvachita Sreshtha Galpa – 1994
- Sashthasati – 1996
- Moksha (made into a Feature Film, that received the Best Regional Film award) – 1996
- Ullaghna (Sahitya Akademi Award,2000) – 1998
- Nivedanam-Idam – 2000
- Gandhinka – 2002
- Jhoti-paka-Kantha – 2006
Awards and recognition:
She was awarded
- 1985 – ‘Odisha Sahitya Academi Award’ for her novel ‘Sheelapadma’
- 1990 – ‘Sarala Award’ for her novel ‘Yajnaseni’
- 1991 – ‘Moortidevi Award’ for her Novel ‘Yajnaseni’
- 2000 – ‘Sahitya Akademi Award’ for her Short-Story Collection ‘Ullaghna’
- 2006 – ‘Amrita Keerti Puraskar’
- 2007 – ‘Padma Shri Award’ in Literature and Education by the Government of India.
- 2011 – ‘Jnanpith Award’
- 2013 – Odisha Living Legend Award (Literature)