The 88th edition of the Akhil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan (ABMSS) is to be held this year in Ghuman village of Punjab, which bears an association with Marathi saint Namdev, with the choice of venue inspired by a desire to highlight the history of Maharastrians in north India, organisers said.
ABMSS is to be held between April 3 and 5 at Ghuman, the village which is located in Gurudaspur district of Punjab, where Sant Namdev -- an important saint of the Bhakti movement -- is believed to have spent the last years of his life.
"Holding the event in Ghuman is important because it will help throw light on the spread of Maharashtrians in north India. There is a myth that many Maharastrians settled here after the Third Battle of Panipat (in which the Marathas were defeated). But they came much before that.
"Namdev came to Ghuman in the 13th century and assimilated himself with the culture there. Many of his abhangs form a part of the scared scriptures of Sikhism," ABMSS President Sadanand More told reporters here. He said that more than 5,000 people are expected to attend the meet.
"We are getting immense cooperation from the government of Punjab. Chief minister Parkash Singh Badal responded to our request to be the chief guest. The local authorities are coordinating with us for building the infrastructure for the
event," More said.
The Maharashtra government, too, has extended funds to the tune of Rs 25 lakh for the meet, which is an annual event and a melting pot of discussions on issues touching language and literature. It is also a forum for authors and poets to showcase their talent. The event also features exhibitions by Marathi publishers who had, however, opposed the selection of Ghuman as the venue this year.
"They were of the opinion that if the sammelan is held in human, the sale of books might take a hit. It is also
an important event for them in terms of revenue.
"We have tried to seek a solution to the issue. We have said that we could arrange a book exhibition-cum-sale
somewhere in Maharashtra after this event," More said.