Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival 2023: In Search of Roots
Pragjyotishpur Litfest 2023, an extraordinary literary extravaganza is about to begin in Guwahati, the gateway to modern Pragjyotishpur.
This literature event will be held from 29th September to 1st October, 2023 at District Library, Guwahati and Assam Sahitya Sabha Bhawan, Guwahati. This literature festival is unique in its approach and objectives, it envisages to unite and bond the people of India with the glorious heritage of regional literature of Northeast India.
At the same time this literature festival presents an opportunity to the youth of NE India to learn, connect and initiate their own thoughts in search for the roots of their cultures and literatures.
Pragjyotishpur Litfest is putting forth the repository of rich traditional literatures, history, cultural heritage of the ancient Pragjyotishpur (now referred as Northeast India) in front of the Nation for the first time in history.
The ancient Pragjyotishpura finds its place in the epic Indian literatures. In ‘Mahabharata’, one finds the mention of Bhaggadatta, the king of Pragjyotishpura who joined the battle of Kurukshetra to fight for the Kauravas with his valiant army of Kiratas (Mongoloid descent), Chainik (from Arakan Chin hill), and Bhots (Tibetan descent).
Bhaggadatta was the son of Naraka (Narakasura), the ruler of legendary Bhauma dynasty of Pragjyotishpura. King Naraka is regarded as the progenitor of all three dynasties of Pragjyotisha-Kamrupa. The name Pragjyotishpur thus connects us with the annals of India’s ancient history which depicts a greater picture of our country which evolved through the contributions of many great rulers, people, and their civilizations; the ancient Kamrupa kingdom being one of them.
Pragjyotishpura denotes the great expanse of eastern India which includes most of the present Northeast India. The Kamrupa kingdom represents one the most vibrant and powerful empires of Pragjyotishpura. The Ancient Kamrupa, a sea of diverse traditions, languages, ethnicity was a repository of various art forms, literatures, oral traditions, and folk cultures.
This treasure trove needs thorough studies and documentations. Ancient Kamrupa was the seat of great intellectual and spiritual discourses as depicted in the archeological remains of Sri Surjya Pahar in Goalpara, the shrine of Kamakya in Guwahati, the Hayagriva Madhava temple in Hajo amongst a few. Bhaskar Varman, the king of Kamrupa was known amongst Bharat’s most powerful emperors of that time.
Bhaskar Varman was a patron of the great Nalanda Mahavihara, the jewel of Indian civilization. This heritage of Kamrupa and Pragjyotishpura owns its place in the history of our country, now it is time for everyone to spread the light of this ancient heritage of Kamrupa and contribute towards a holistic intellectual growth of India. The Pragjyotishpur literature festival is sowing seeds of this mind movement in our society.
This three-day literary event will create awareness about the treasure of unexplored literature found in different regional languages of India. The literary contributions found in the unique linguistic diversity of Northeast India has remained largely unexplored till date. This literature festival is bringing everyone’s attention to this forgotten treasure of regional literature of India.
This festival is trying to promote literatures in regional languages; giving equal importance to all Indian languages is the need of hour. Aptly said in his deliberation ‘Every Indian language is National language’ by Sri. Soumyadeep Datta, well known environment activist & writer; this litfest is paving the way ahead in planting this change in our collective psyche.
This literature festival is about discovering the beauty and importance of our regional literature and finding purposeful ways to promote its future growth. Northeast India offers an amazingly rich heritage of myriad oral traditions, oral literatures which needs immediate documentation and popularization in order to save it from its cultural death.
This will be possible only when the young generation of writers, historians, story tellers come forward to rescue these precious oral literatures from oblivion. The Pragjyotishpur literature festival sets a new direction for the literary world of India by highlighting the importance of these oral traditions in our civilization.
This will greatly enrich and diversify Indian literature, will provide greater understanding of folk culture for everyone, and will encourage youth belonging to the ethnic communities to connect with and nourish their roots.
This festival encourages modern India to rise in unison, in search of our roots, the roots of our cultures, of our languages, of our traditions, of our ancestors. The world is looking towards India for solutions to their unanswered questions, India is the land of ancient knowledge and wisdom. These answers will unravel with the dawn of our mind movement, which will begin from our roots.
Knowing about the history of our country, about our region is indispensable in this regard. Hence, literature regarding history must become popular among the people. There is a serious need in the society to complete the unfinished episodes of history, at times to get it re-written. This is vital for our civilization, for our futures because without knowing our roots we will fail in planning the future.
There is an urgent need felt across the globe to connect the young generations with their roots, hence an emphasis on history literature is of paramount importance. This literature festival looks forward to encourage the young generations to objectively search the roots to enrich the history literature of our country and emerge as empowered future leaders of India.
Many a times, the knowledge and beauty of timeless classics and valuable work of literature remains shielded from wider access because of language barriers as we experience in a multilingual country like India. We can easily tide over such language barriers with effective translation literature.
In today’s world where we consider the entire earth a single family, in this era of free exchange of thoughts and knowledge the role of translation literature is critical in shaping the intellectual dexterity of any community/country.
This litfest is further bolstering the importance of translation literature for an intellectual overhaul of India. Translation literature can play a key role in cultural exchanges between different parts of India, and may contribute in building a more harmonious society in future.
Nature-writings is becoming a popular genre of literature in India, its popularity growing very fast in Assam and NE India. Nature-writings refers to the body of literary work which promotes the emotions, thoughts, and actions contributing to nature conservation. It is a form of purposeful literature, for the writer the goal is far ahead of self-gratification and for the readers it goes far beyond sensuous pleasures.
Nature-writings effectively unites the writer and the readers with the single sighted goal of nature-conservation. Many writers have contributed to the advent and growth of nature-writings in international arena, in Assam one cannot deny the contributions of Sri. Soumyadeep Datta and the role of Nature’s Beckon in establishing this genre in modern Assamese literature.
Many writers of Assam have enriched this genre in due course of time. Nature-writings belongs to the progressive category of literature, it is considered by many as the mainstay of popular literature in future. The contributions of Dr. Arabinda Rajkhowa, writer and lecturer of North Lakhimpur College (Autonomous) is worth mentioning in this regard.
He upheld the importance of nature-writings by objectively defining this genre with academic accreditation. The significance of Nature-writings in Indian literature is been duly recognized by Sahitya Akademi, Shankardeva Kalakshetra, Assam Sahitya Sabha and other intellectuals of India.
The Pragjyotishpur literature festival’s special session on contemporary Nature-writings in Assamese literature is another step towards strengthening the roots of this futuristic genre of literature in Assam and NE India. This festival looks forward to encourage prolific nature-writings literature in different regional languages of India.
A series of literary pre-events set the mood for the Pargjyotishpur LitFest across different parts of Assam. These pre-events began in western Assam where the first such literary session was organized by the Department of Assamese, Bholanath College, Dhubri on 15th September, 2023. This was followed by a literary session organized by the Department of Assamese, Dibrugarh Hunamanbax Surajmall Kanoi College at Dibrugarh on 19th September, 2023.
Both these sessions were marked with enthusiastic participation from the students and faculties of both the reputed educational institutions of Assam. Sri. Soumyadeep Datta, the Working President of Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival 2023 graced these events as the invited speaker. He spoke at length about the objectives and importance of this unique literature festival, giving special focus on the young students who will carry forward the mind movement sowed by this literature festival in future.
The pre-events for Pragjyotishpur Litfest in the Northern Bank of Brahmaputra included two hugely successful literary sessions organized by the Dhemaji Balika Mahavidyalaya and the North Lakhimpur College (Autonomous) on 20th September and 22nd September 2023, respectively. Sri. Datta attended both the sessions as the invited speaker. While speaking about this literature festival, he highlighted on the importance of nature conservation movement of Assam in driving the growth of nature-writings in the recent times.
Sri. Datta stressed upon the need of more active participation from youth of this region in Nation building. He pointed out at the significance of such events in directing us towards greater collective responsibilities of our societies which otherwise are discounted.
These pre-events played a very important role in sensitizing the people in different parts of Assam regarding the objectives and importance of the Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival. The participants in all these events showed unanimous solidarity to Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival.
The Pragjyotishpur Literature Festival organised by Shankardev Education and Research Foundation with the theme ‘In search of roots’, is a mind movement for the young writers, historians, poets, story tellers, activists, students, and youth of India. This mind movement is rooted in the rich heritage of ancient Pragjyotishpura, India’s frontier land of knowledge and diversity.
This literature festival gives India an eastern doctrine for uniting the nation through bonds of diversity found in abundance in the literary and cultural scape of Northeast India. This will provide an opportunity to celebrate India’s diversity with a purpose.
For the people of Assam and NE India, this is a rare occasion to embark in this journey in search of our roots and led the country in building the mind movement of our past glory once again.
(The author is an environment activist and writer based in Guwahati, Assam. firstname.lastname@example.org)
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