Jaswant Kanwal: The grand old man of Punjabi literature turns 101 today
Known as the writer of movements of Punjab, such as Naxalbari (left), Muzara Lehar (Tenancy movement) and Khalistan movement, Kanwal has penned about 100 books.Updated: Jun 27, 2019 09:24 IST
Born two and a half months after the Jallianwala Bagh massacre, novelist Jaswant Singh Kanwal is the first Punjabi author who celebrates his 101st birthday on Thursday in sound health. Known as the writer of movements of Punjab, such as Naxalbari (left), Muzara Lehar (Tenancy movement) and Khalistan movement, Kanwal has penned about 100 books.
Hailing from Dhudike village of Moga district, Kanwal was born on June 27, 1919 where he spent his childhood, but soon he moved to the British Malaya. Upon returning to India, he began writing on Punjab’s social and political issues.
Kanwal wrote his first book in 1940 but had to struggle much to publish his famous novel Lahu Di Lau (Dawn of the Blood) which was published from Singapore in 1970s and smuggled to Punjab during the emergency.
“Emergency had been imposed and such material was totally banned. The novel Lahu Di Lau was based on the Naxal movement in Punjab. It was published in Singapore and smuggled to Punjab. Copies of the novel were sold secretly at book stalls, and village youths read the novel in secret during nights in groups and passed them on to other villages,” said historian Sumail Singh Sidhu, who is also the Kanwal’s grandson.
He penned novels, short stories and essays including Lahu Di Lau, Raat Baaki Hai, Sach Nu Phansi, Ainion Chon Utho Surma, Mukti Maarag, Haani, Pali, Puranmaashi, Civil Lines and more.
“Kanwal supported pro-people movements and wrote about them. He is the only Punjabi writer in sound health and is still serving Punjab and Punjabi language,” said prominent novelist Baldev Sadaknama.
Though Kanwal authored books on love, gender and social structure of Punjab, his novels Raat Baaki Hai (on Punjab’s tenancy movement) and Ainion Chon Utho Surma (pro-Khalistan movement) were read widely.
“Youth wanted to read about love, eagerness and change. His novels inspirited Punjabi youth to join movements over several decades. However, he also raised his voice against the same movements when their leaders went politically wrong and violated basic principles,” said novelist Ajmer Sidhu.
The 101st birthday of the Sahitya Akademy Award (for Toshali Di Hanso) winner writer is being celebrated as ‘Puranmashi Punjabi Jor Mela’ from June 26 to 30 at his native village Dhudike.
First Published: Jun 27, 2019 09:17 IST