In an event held at Mahabahu Brahmaputra River Heritage Centre (Old DC Bungalow) at Pan Bazar in Guwahati on Monday, 175-year-old 'Orunodoi' magazine was put up for exhibition.
Organized at the initiative of Nanda Talukdar Foundation, the remaining version of 175-year-old Orunodoi, a unique chapter in the history of Assam, and the only remaining version preserved by the Nanda Talukdar Foundation, was unveiled for public viewing.
At a solemn meeting to mark the launch of the exhibition, Mr. Mrinal Talukdar handed over the copies of Orunodoi for the new generation to see, which was given to his late father Nanda Talukdar by eminent writer Surya Kumar Bhuyan, and preserved for 47 years by the Nanda Talukdar Foundation.
At the beginning of the event, Cotton University student Trideep Bhagawati elaborated on the history of eminent linguist Azizur Rahman, the crisis of the Assamese language in contemporary conditions, and how Christian missionaries fought against it through Orunodoi in the goodwill of linguists like Nathan Brown.
Later, Assam Sahitya Sabha president Kuladhar Saikia thanked the Nanda Talukdar Foundation for such an initiative and also spoke about some of the programs undertaken by the Sahitya Sabha to enrich the Assamese language.
Also present at the event, noted writer-critic Parmananda Majumdar said that the Nanda Talukdar Foundation has long been making efforts to collect information on various issues from the rare collection of works by the heritage and knowledge seekers of Assamese who have strengthened the foundation of Assamese people and language in the heritage.
He also thanked the Talukdar family for building a small heritage center in the house and said that whenever I feel the need to explore an old book or subject, I reach that unique museum of the Nanda Talukdar Foundation.
This was followed by Asomiya Pratidin editor Jayanta Baruah, the chief guest of today's event, and the owner of the Sadin-Pratidin group, who was present at the function, congratulated everyone present in his speech. He mentioned the long-standing relationship between the family of Hemchandra Baruah and the continued efforts to serve the state's news literature sector so far.
He said that when the Assamese language was in deep crisis during the British regime, Orunodoi stood as the front wall of a conspiracy to wipe out the language. The editor of the Asomiya Pratidin paper thanked Nanda Talukdar Foundation for displaying the remaining copy, a symbol of 175 years of cultural heritage, on the banks of the Bor Luit.
In his speech, he also recalled various incidents from time immemorial throughout the period of transition from Orunodoi to Sadin-Pratidin. He said that in the history of newspapers of Assam the role of Orunodoi and Assam News was huge and it will keep the Assamese nation on guard forever. He added that Hemchandra Baruah had highlighted why a regular newspaper was also needed for the future of Assam after Orunodoi's publication.
Mr. Jayant Barua highlighted how Hemchandra Baruah published a bilingual newspaper about how he had taken steps to link missionaries with the Assamese language. It is worth mentioning that Jayant Baruah released the historical, first news magazine in Assam, Orunodoi's only remaining preserved edition after dignitaries spoke at the event. Looking at the version, he said that at that time, the knowledge of how to publish news or a paper was also incomplete.
It may be recalled that the news magazine was first published in January 1846 from Mission Press in Sivasagar. This newspaper can be said to hold a founding role in the modern Assamese language because this magazine created a new era in Assamese literature. Orunodoi's pages were filled with writers like Anandram Dhekial Phukan, Pandit Hemchandra Baruah, Gunaviram Baruah, etc.
Although the newspaper was originally published for the propagation of Christianity, it published various works such as prose-poetry-geography-history-polity, weather – at home and abroad, biographies, stories, etc. The magazine's publication came to a standstill with the closure of the mission press in 1883. The editors of the monthly magazine, which ran for 37-years, were Dr. Brown, S.M. Whiteing, Miles Bronson, Mrs. Ward, Reverend Clark, and A.K. Garni. The annual contribution was Rs 1 respectively and later Rs 2. The highest number of subscribers of the magazine reached 900 people.