Year In Review, 2022: Going Down Memory Lane in Assam’s Literary Field

If we are to compare what we have achieved and what we have lost, the pain of loss is greater, however, the year 2022 has given a lot to the literary filed of Assam.
Year In Review, 2022: Going Through Memory Lane in Assam’s Literary Field
Year In Review, 2022: Going Through Memory Lane in Assam’s Literary Field

Welcoming the New Year 2023 with zeal to achieve great possibilities and overcome challenges, let us turn the pages to memory lane in the field of literature to have a look at what we have achieved so far and what we have missed in the last year.

If we are to compare what we have achieved and what we have lost, the pain of loss is greater, however, the year 2022 has given a lot to the literary filed of Assam.

Jnanpith Award

There has been lots of discussion about the Assamese language and literature going through a bad phase, however, in between these bad days, Assam received the highest honor of Indian literature ‘Jnanpith Award’ making it a huge achievement for the state.

The ‘Jnanpith Award’ was conferred to noted Assamese poet Nilamoni Phookan during a function at Rabindra Bhawan in Guwahati on April 11, 2022.

He was the third recipient of the award following Birendra Kumar Bhattacharyya and Mamoni Raisom Goswami.

Jnanpith Award is the oldest and the highest Indian literary award presented annually by the Bharatiya Jnanpith to an author for their "outstanding contribution towards literature". Instituted in 1961, the award is bestowed only on Indian writers writing in Indian languages included in the Eighth Schedule to the Constitution of India and English with no posthumous conferral.

Nilamoni Phookan is an Indian poet in the Assamese language and an academic. His work, replete with symbolism, is inspired by French symbolism and is representative of the genre in Assamese poetry. His notable works include Surya Henu Nami Ahe Ei Nodiyedi, Gulapi Jamur Lagna, and Kobita.

The news of the poet receiving the Jnanpith Award gave us some fresh air to breathe freely. The society, which was mired in the news of politics, religious fanaticism, murder and violence, got an opportunity to break out of the siege.

Sahitya Akademi Award

In addition to receiving the highest honor in Indian literature, the year also witnessed other positive news in the field of literature.

At the end of the year, Assamese storyteller and senior journalist Manoj Kumar Goswami received the Sahitya Akademi award for his book titled ‘Bhul Satya’ which was published in the year 2017 by Bookbell Publishing.

Meanwhile, poet Rashmi Choudhury for ‘Chanshri Madira’ and KB Nepali for ‘Sign’ received the Sahitya Akademi Awards for literature in Boro and Nepali languages respectively.

Moreover, three translators received the Sahitya Akademi Translation Award. The recipients of the award are Dr. Juri Dutta (originally Kocharethi: Araya Nari, author- Narayan), in Boro by Raja Devajit Basumatary (originally Kabuliwala's Bengali Bou, author- Susmita Banerjee) and in Nepali by Purna Kumar Sharma (originally Shantanukulanandan, author- Purabi Bormudoi).

The receiving of awards does not stop at this as Assam also achieved Sahitya Akademi Yuva Puraskar.

The award was conferred to two writers for their contribution to literary works at the end of December. Author Pradyumna Kumar Gogoi was conferred with the award for his literary work in an Assamese short stories collection titled ‘Choki Aru Anyanya Galpa’ at a ceremony held at Triveni Kala Sangam in New Delhi. He was also the recipient of Munun Barkotoki Literary Award in the year 2021.

The award was shared with Alangbar Muchahary for his contribution to the literary work in Bodo language in the book titled ‘Gang Fujanay Mase Dau (Short Stories)’.

In addition to this, Bal Sahitya Puraskar was conferred to Diganta Oja for his work in ‘Dangor Manuhor Xadhu.’

Sahitya Akademi Youth Award is organized by the central government every year to recognize youths across India for their excellence in the field of literature.

Asam Sahitya Sabha Election

The Asam Sahitya Sabha election has been the most talked and discussed topic in the literary field this year.

The literature lovers of Assam wished for Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi to become the president of Asam Sahitya Sabha in the election held in December.

Thongchi is a resident of Arunachal Pradesh who enriched the treasury of Assamese literature. He filed his nomination for the post of President with Dr Surjya Hazarika and two others.

Asam Sahitya Sabha Election
Asam Sahitya Sabha Election

However, Dr Hazarika won the election after securing 335 votes against 734 votes defeating prominent writer Thongchi.

Meanwhile, Girij Handique was elected as Vice President with 342 votes and Upendrajit Sarma became the General Secretary with 315 votes.

Book Fair

As more such positive news in the field of literature had kicked in, Assam Publications Board decided to send a great message to the lovers of Assamese literature and books. The ‘Assam Book Fair’, which is held annually at Chandmari Engineering Ground in Guwahati under the aegis of the board and All Assam Book Sellers Association, was taken outside of the city in 2022.

The Assam Book Fair was held in at least four cities: Dhemaji, Jorhat, Guwahati and Bongaigaon.

The first book fair was held in Dhemaji on November 4 followed by Jorhat on December 2 where crowds of several book lovers were witnessed.

Meanwhile, the book fair in Guwahati has already started on December 29. The splendid book fair, which is opened for book appreciators and common people till January 9, 2023, has given space to over 150 book stalls (publishers) from northeast India along with Kolkata, New Delhi, Punjab, where 10 publication houses from neighboring Bangladesh are also taking part.

The last and fourth book fair will be held in Bongaigaon from February 2023.

This positive and great decision by the board was appreciated by book lovers and enthusiasts across the state.

Prominent Writers Who Left for Heavenly Abode

Among such great and positive news, few sad and painful news have also hit among the writers and poets of Assam as the state lost many prominent and renowned writers last year who left for heavenly abode.

The state lost a noted writer Sivanath Barman at the end of the year due to prolonged illness. His demise has raised questions about the negligence of not only government but also the so-called intellectual community.

Sivanath Barman
Sivanath Barman

To add to the pain of loss, Sattriya exponent and Burha Sattriya of Barpeta Satra Basistha Dev Sarma left for heavenly abode on October 22 at Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) due to illness.

His funeral was held with full state honors and attended by Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Education Minister Ranoj Pegu, Health Minister Keshab Mahanta, MP Abdul Khaleque and several others.

CM Sarma said that the death of the Burha Sattriya was a great loss to the Assamese society and urged the younger generation to take forwards the arts and culture of Assam especially Sattriya culture by being inspired by the ideals of Basistha Dev Sarma.

Basistha Dev Sarma, who was awarded the Srimanta Sankardev Award, was not only confined to the Satra. He was a social reformer and wrote several books related to Sattriya culture. He was also a practitioner of folk culture.

Basistha Dev Sarma
Basistha Dev Sarma

While the state was grieving the loss of Burha Sattriya, pain struck again with the loss of renowned artist Neel Pawan Baruah while he was undergoing treatment at GMCH on October 28.

His last rites were held with full state honors at Nabagraha cemetery.

The well-known painter’s paintings had filled the pages of several magazines and newspapers in Assam. His paintings were exhibited at the Birla Academy of Art and Culture in Calcutta, the Lalit Kala Akademy in Lucknow and Bhubaneswar.

Neel Pawan Baruah was born on June 1, 1936, at Teok in Assam’s Jorhat. He joined the famous Shantiniketan in the year 1961.

In 1966, he began teaching at Guwahati Art College. The noted painter went on to establish the Charu – Karu Kala Parishad in Assam’s Charaideo.

The noted artist was conferred with the ‘Assam Sourav’ award in the year 2021 by the state government in Assam.

Neel Pawan Baruah
Neel Pawan Baruah

The pain of the loss of the eminent people who made contributions to the field of literature did not end with these.

The state lost Sahitya Akademi awardee Atulananda Goswami on July 27 at GMCH while undergoing treatment.

His literary works included ‘Namgharia,’ ‘Hamdoi Pulor Jon,’ ‘Seneh Jorir Ganthi,’ ‘Rajpaat,’ ‘Polatok,’ and ‘Ashray’.

The state also lost several others including Harendra Nath Borthakur, Dr Prafulla Mahanta, Arpan Bezbaruah, Sayed Abdul Azim, M. Idris Ali, Dr Liladhar Brahma, Robin Gohain, Pulok Gogoi, Dr Nabin Chandra Sarma, Dr Amal Rajkhowa, Umakanta Dev Sarma, Dr Prabin Chandra Das and so on.

In addition to these, many other known and unknown writers and literary figures passed away this year. These Assamese sacrifices have greatly damaged the world of Assamese literature.

The Assamese literature in the year 2022 has witnessed several achievements starting with Jnanpith Awards to the Sahitya Akademi Awards along with the loss of several prominent writers.

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