Amritsar, August 12
First it was a UNESCO report that came as a warning for the Punjabi language and its patrons and recently the Delhi University’s move to drop the graded system of Punjabi language course has led to writers, followers and torch-bearers of the language open up with their efforts to preserve, promote and protest any move to deny the language it due rights. As a hub of Punjabi literature and culture, the city has always ensured that the mother tongue of the state does not die an untimely death.
The issue came to the fore at ‘Maa Boli’ (mother tongue) festival, that was held by the Punarjyot foundation in city on Sunday.
“I would emphasise that a language never dies, instead it is killed. This implies to Punjabi as well. Punjabi is the 11th largest language spoken in the world and is not just restricted to a particular community or religion. Its vocabulary is richer than most popular languages. It is the second most popular language in Delhi itself. So, such irresponsible and thoughtless decisions do not help but kill the language itself,” said Parminderjit Singh, Punjabi poet and editor of Punjabi magazine Akhar.
Parminderjit also quoted the UNESCO report, “The report, which mentioned Punjabi as one of the endangered languages of the world, was shunned by many as false and misconceived. But the fact is that it is time we realise that we have to promote the language, especially amongst the youth. I believe that Punjabi is not a very technology-friendly language in today’s time but it definitely becomes important for the younger generation to fill in the gaps.”
Satnam Singh Gill, the Head of Department of Punjabi at the Government College for Girls, also said the language needed a saviour. “The most common problem in Punjabi literature is that it lacks readership outside Punjab. The youth fails to understand its importance, but it is our responsibility to encourage them to take up Punjabi literature and popularise it,” he said.
With Punjabi magazines Akhar and Preet Lari almost becoming a legend and Punjabi theatre thriving, the youth too is participating to stay connected to their mother tongue. The Maa Boli festival proved the efforts were worth a shot. Lending a competitive touch to Punjabi and celebrating the mother tongue, the festival had students coming up with Punjabi poetry, speeches, literary ideas, multimedia presentations and cultural activities to promote the language.
Dr Kirat Sandhu Cheema, Director, Spring Dale Educational Society, which is the patron of Punarjyot, said it was really heartening to see the enthusiasm with which the students participated in the event. “Punjabi is our mother tongue and we all should learn to take pride in it,” she said. “The Maa Boli festival aims at enabling the youth to realise the true worth of their mother tongue and persuade them to take pride in it by helping them indulge in various literary activities, including poetry recitation, folk songs, calligraphy and declamation,” she added.
Kewal Dhaliwal, the newly appointed president of the Sangeet Natak Academy and noted theatre person, said Punjabi theatre was a mass media tool to popularise the language. “Amritsar has a thriving Punjabi theatre environment and most young actors are joining in to carry the baton of cultural and language promotion through theatre.”
Originally Published on Tribune Chandigarh