Odisha’s youngest Scuba Diver, 11-year-old girl Tisya Panigrahi goes Under Water To Wish People On Nuakhai

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Odisha’s youngest Scuba Diver, Dubai based 11-year-old girl Tisya Panigrahi and her father Priyadarshee Panigrahi (who is also a trained Scuba Diver) dived into the Arabian Sea in the Gulf Of Oman, on the east coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), at Fujairah and sent out their ‘Nuakhai’  wishes.

Yesterday (10th September) on the eve of Nuakhai, Tisya and her father Priyadarshee dived into the sea at the ‘Dibba Rock’ dive site and wished people on the occasion of Odisha’s premier harvest festival – Nuakhai.

Both the divers travelled on the diving boat to their dive site (‘Dibba Rock’) and jumped into the sea in full diving gear. After descending to a depth of around 40 feet amidst colourful coral reefs and beautiful marine life, they took out some celebratory placards and sent out their wishes. One of the placards read ‘Nuakhai Juhar’ while the other one read ‘Happy Nuakhai’. Such an underwater event on the occasion of Nuakhai has never happened in the past and is definitely quite unique. What makes it special is the fact that it was done by an 11-year-old girl along with her father.

Diving Instructor Hani El Hajjar who hails from Lebanon helped them by taking photographs and videos using a special underwater camera.

Sambalpur born Tisya became Odisha’s youngest Scuba diver on the 22nd of Aug last year when she obtained her PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors) Junior Open Water Scuba Diver License in UAE at the young age of 10. One can attempt to get this license only after turning 10.  PADI is the world’s largest scuba diving training and certification organization. It was founded in 1966 in Illinois, United States of America. Tisya did her training in Al Boom Diving, UAE’s largest Diving School.

Tisya was inspired by the Scuba Diving exploits of her father Priyadarshee Panigrahi who has been diving since 2012 after getting his PADI Open Water Scuba Diver License from Vietnam. Priyadarshee is a prominent Non-Resident Indian and is actively involved in community affairs and promotion of India’s culture and traditions at the International level. He is based in Dubai and works as a General Manager with a large Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company.

Priyadarshee said ‘If a licensed Scuba Diver doesn’t dive for more than 6 months, he/she has to do a refresher course. Our last dives were on the 4th of April and we were itching to dive again. We chose 10th September for our dives and then realized that 11th September happened to be Nuakhai. Being from Odisha, particularly from Sambalpur, Nuakhai holds a very special place in our hearts. We decided to do something unique and special on this occasion and this idea germinated’.

‘An underwater message on Nuakhai has never happened before and I thought this is a good way to popularize Nuakhai at the National/International level. More and more people will know about Nuakhai and it will definitely add to the spread of our culture and traditions’ added Priyadarshee.

According to Tisya ‘Diving is something that I enjoy a lot and the idea of doing something extra while diving was nice. It was fun to hold the placards and pose for pictures and videos. Nuakhai has many memories for me. I particularly like the festival because we get to dress in traditional clothes, dance to peppy Sambalpuri songs and get great traditional foods’.

Tisya studies in Grade 6 of Raffles World Academy in Dubai. She was born in Sambalpur in 2010 and is the granddaughter of former Minister and Member of Parliament from Odisha Late Sriballav Panigrahi and Educationist Late Sunanda Panigrahi. Tisya also happens to be the granddaughter of former MLA from Sambalpur Dr Raseswari Panigrahi.