Push for poet B-day – GTA to celebrate Bhanu Jayanti

The Telegraph

VIVEK CHHETRI

A statue of Bhanubhakta Acharya at Chowrastha in Darjeeling. (Suman Tamang)

Darjeeling, June 13: The GTA Sabha is set to celebrate the birth anniversary of Bhanubhakta Acharya, fondly called adikavi (the first poet), who had been ignored by the erstwhile DGHC.

Binay Tamang, the executive GTA Sabha member in charge of information and cultural department, today said: “The information and cultural department of the GTA has decided to organise Bhanu Jayanti in a grand manner on July 13 this year.”

Bhanubhakta (1814-1868) is the most revered literary figure in the Nepali community and all schools, colleges and government offices declare a holiday in the hills to commemorate his birth anniversary on July 13. But the DGHC headed by GNLF leader Subash Ghisingh never celebrated the Nepali poet’s birthday because of political and ideological reasons.

The poet, who hailed from Chundi Ramgha near Pokhara in Nepal, had first translated Ramayana to Nepali from Sanskrit. Literary figures believe the translation helped popularise Nepali literature, following which the language developed, hence, the title adikavi.

In 1992, when a movement was launched for the inclusion of Nepali language in the eighth schedule of the Indian constitution, Ghisingh came up with a different demand. He wanted Gorkha language and not Nepali language to be included in the Constitution.

Even though Gorkha and Nepali are different names of the same language, Ghisingh insisted on the inclusion of the word “Gorkha language” instead of “Nepali language.” His stand was that Gorkha was the language spoken by Indian Nepalis and Nepali was the language of the citizens of Nepal.

As part of his propaganda, Ghisingh propped up another well-known literary figure Agam Singh Giri, who hails from Darjeeling.

Instead of commemorating Bhanubhakta’s birthday, the DGHC under Ghisingh started celebrating Giri Jayanti on December 27 from the mid-1990s and also instituted Giri Puraskar, a move seen to counter the literary award Bhanu Puraskar.

Bhanu Puraskar used to be given by the now defunct Nepali Academy under the Bengal government and soon after Ghisingh took control of the DGHC in 1988, the award was discontinued. It was only in 2002 that the state government took the initiative of reviving the Bhanu Puraskar under the aegis of Bangla Academy. However, the award is not being given since 2006,presumably because of the resumption of the Gorkhaland agitation.

Although several Nepali organisations would conduct different programmes to celebrate adikavi’s birthday, the DGHC avoided organising any event.

The state government also celebrated Bhanu Jayanti two-three times in the 1980s. In 2011, the government had after decades officially celebrated Bhanu Jayanti through the Darjeeling district information and cultural affairs department.

Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had then announced a grand celebration of Bhanubhakta ’s 200th birth anniversary in 2014.

The Centre used both the words Gorkha/Nepali while including the language in the eighth schedule of the Constitution on August 20, 1992.

Sources in the GTA said the first meeting on the Bhanu Jayanti celebrations was held in Darjeeling today. “We are thinking of organising an event either at Gorkha Rangamanch Bhavan or at Chowrastha on July 13,” said a GTA official.

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