Gujarat: Sahitya Academy to set up hoardings of 100 litterateurs

Zaverchand Meghani (1896-1947) was a prominent author who published his extensive research on folk literature.

With an aim to promote literature and acknowledge the contribution of authors and poets, the Gujarat Sahitya Academy (GSA) will set up hoardings at the native places of a 100 prominent litterateurs in the state and organise programmes centred on them, GSA Chairman Vishnu Pandya said on Friday.

At a ceremony organised to confer the Zaverchand Meghani Lok Sahiyta Award and the Lokgayak Hemu Gadhvi Award, Pandya said there was a need to reinvigorate teaching and the learning of literature in universities of the state. “Are we teaching our students Zaverchand Meghani in his entirety? No doubt he was not merely an author, but a poet, a compiler-editor and a journalist but is that all? We are still unable to duly honour Meghani. He was the man who with the permission of a judge, sang a poem in a courtroom; his work drips nationalism. He was comprehensive but how many of us have stopped at Chotila town and visited Meghani’s birthplace?” the GSA chairman asked.

Zaverchand Meghani (1896-1947) was a prominent author who published his extensive research on folk literature. Radhiyali Rat, a collection of Gujarati folk songs; Saurashtra ni Rasdhar, a four-volume compilation folklore and recent folk history of Saurasthra, Sorathi Baharvatiya and Sorathi Santo are among his prominent works.

The Zaverchand Meghani Loksahitya Kendra (Zaverchad Meghani Folk Literature Centre) of Saurashtra University had instituted the Zaverchand Meghani Loksahitya Award in his memory in 2011, to recognise research and promotion of folk literature. Similarly, the centre instituted the Lokgayak Hemu Gadhvi Award in 2015 to recognise excellence in folk singing in the memory of legendary folk singer Hemu Gadhvi. The ZMLK functions under the aegis of GSA, the state government body working for the promotion of literature in the Gujarat.

Pandya said that in order for literature teaching and learning to be done in a comprehensive manner, new books are being published at affordable prices. “We need to highlight our litterateurs to generate interest in the general public. Therefore, we are considering setting up hoarding boards of a 100 prominent litterateurs at their native places, giving information about their life and works. We also propose to organise events at these places. For example, one passing by Virpur should know that Dhumketu was born there,” he said, adding that GSA would welcome contributions of universities of the state.

The Mehgani award in 2019 was conferred on Professor Labkhshankar Purohit, while the Gadhvi award was conferred on musician Bharti Kunchala. Professor Purohit retired as the principal of DKV College, Jamnagar in 1992 but post his retirement, he focused on researching folk literature and wrote six books. The 87-year-old professor is considered to be an authority on Lok Dhal (the folk style of singing). Kunchala, on the other hand, delved into folk singing at an early age and started performing publicly when she was 13. She has also worked as a playback singer in Gujarati movies.

In his acceptance speech, Professor Purohit said that he was concerned about the waning tradition of folk songs. “I am especially concerned about Lok Dhals; we are losing them fast. Leave apart the original dhals, today we don’t even know the worst corruptions of the original,” he said.