Sahitya Academi Award

Award in Santali to Jadumani Besra (Born in 1964)

Jadumani Besra was born in 1964, in Village Karanjai, Dist. Mayurbhanj, Orissa. He is a graduate in Commerce from Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. He also knows Ho, Mundari, Oriya, Bengali, Hindi and English. Presently working as Accounts Assistant in S.E. Railway, Kharagpur. He is also General Secretary of All India Santali Writers Association. Began writing at an early age and published his first poem, "Chirgal Sakwa Orongme" in Jiwi Jharna. Also edited journals like Fagun Koel, and is now editing Mantar. He has one book Bhabna to his credit; he compiled and edited with others the following books: Onorhen Mohok, Dalij, (poetry collections), Jiyon Gada (short story collection), Directory of Santali Journals and Magazines and Bibliography of Santali Writers Part-L. His poems and short stories have been published in several magazines. Member of Santali Syllabus Committee, Burdwan University, Burdwan and North Orissa University, Baripada. Recipient of Dr. Ambedkar Fellowship from Bharatiya Dalit Sahitya Academy, Delhi and Maan Mohor Siropa from All India Santali Bhasha Morcha, Jamshedpur.

The poems in Bhabna, the award-winning collection, are noted for their treatment drawing on natural beauty and representing the joys and sorrow of the people, at the same time bringing to the fore in a corrective way, the shortcomings of the society from where these poems spring. The work is deemed a notable contribution to Indian poetry in Santali.

Address: Rly. Quarter No. S/H/34, Unit-15, New Development, Kharagpur—721301. Dist. West Midnapur, West Bengal. Telephone: 03222-256261

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My speech on the occasion of Writers Meet at Rabindra Bhavan, New Delhi held on 22.02.2006 after receiving Sahitva Akademi Award.

Honourable President, esteemed guests, respected great Indian writers, poets, media persons, ladies and gentlemen, I extend my hearty Johar to you all. I am extremely happy and feel honoured to be with you to share my experience and views relating to language and literature.

I started writing poems while studying at Ravenshaw College, Cuttack. My first poem "Chirgal Sakwa Orongme" (Blow the flute of Awareness) was published in a Magazine named JIWI JHARNA, Later I became editor of this Magazine for two years. My poems, short stories and essays have been published in more than thirty Magazines and Journals. I have edited some of the Magazines and Books. I am also one of the founders of All India Santali Writers Association established in the year 1988. I actively participated in Santali language movement. By incorporating the Santali language in the 8th schedule of the Constitution of India, we see a bright future for our language. The Santali writers and poets have gained enthusiasm and inspiration for literature. I am thankful to the persons and Organisations, who struggled for the cause of Santali language. I am very much influenced and inspired by Pandit Raghu Nath Murmu, a great writer, philosopher and inventor of Olchiki script for Santali language. He has rescued our language and culture from the imminent mouth of death. I remember one of his poems, which is like a mantra for everyone. It goes like this - 

" Ol menak' tama, Ror menak' tama,
Dhorom menak' tama, Aam hon menam,
O1 em ad lere, Ror em ad le.
Dhorom em ad lere, Aam honm adok'."

It means - if you have script then your language will be alive. You will be alive as long your religion is in existence. You will be lost when you loose your script, language and religion.

Whenever I see burning fire in the hills and forests, I feel my heart burning. The Adivasis have deep love and relation with hills and forests for which they are called "sons of nature." If hills and forests are burnt, being an Adivasi, how can I tolerate it? I described it in my poem Buru Sengel (fire of the hill). The lives of the Adivasis have been endangered due to industrialization, urbanization and mining, resulting in their displacement. Their backbones of social economic and cultural dependencies are being mined everyday. It is really a matter of concern. My poem Rak eday Normoda (Normoda is crying) is based on this theme. I faced poverty in my childhood very closely. My parents, brothers and sisters worked in the paddy fields, roads and dug ponds as daily labourers. I have also worked in the paddy fields. My Thatched house had broken three times due to strong winds. I have slept some nights without meal. I was unable to go to school daily due to single piece of shirt and pant. I have described this fact in my poem Bhador renak' Mid Ninda. (One night of Bhadrab). Today I am unhappy to see the educated and employed keeping themselves away from their own society, and as a result forgetting their language, culture and traditions. My title poem "Bhabna" of the book Bhabna is written on this aspect.

The history of modern Santali poetry is only about 70 years old. Onorhen Baha Dalwak by Paul Jujhar Soren is the first modern Santali poetry book published in 1936, Sadhu Ramchand Murmu, Pandit Raghunath Murmu, Panchanan Marndi, Sarada Prasad Kisku, Narayan Soren, Doman Hansdah, Doman Sahoo and Bhogan Murmu were the eminent Santali poets. At present, there are good number of poets and writers in this language.

I think and believe that Sahitya Akademi has not only given recognition to my creativity on poetry but also honoured the Santali literature, given a place with dignity in the main stream of great Indian literature, for which every Santali speaker feels proud. The Akademi award has certainly enhanced my responsibility to write more poems to enrich the Indian literature. I have to work hard in this long journey. I will ensure that no stone in my path shall remain unturned on this long journey.

I once again extend my sibil Johar, Namaskar, Wanakkam, Aadab and Sasriakaal.

Thank you, 
Jadumani Besra

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