Balwinder Singh Grewal wins Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature

Published on Nov 19, 2022 11:43 AM IST

Grewal took top prize of $25,000 for his short story collection Dubolia, while Javed Boota and Arvinder Kaur were the other finalists honoured for their respective works Cholan Di Burki and Jhanjraan Wale Paer and won $10,000 CDN each

(From left) Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature finalist Javed Boota, prize winner Balwinder Singh Grewal and finalist Arvinder Kaur. (HT Photo)
(From left) Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature finalist Javed Boota, prize winner Balwinder Singh Grewal and finalist Arvinder Kaur. (HT Photo)

Balwinder Singh Grewal’s short story collection Dubolia won him the The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature, 2022, while writers Javed Boota and Arvinder Kaur were the other finalists honoured for their respective works Cholan Di Burki and Jhanjraan Wale Paer at a ceremony in Surrey, British Columbia, on Thursday night.

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The Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Literature was founded almost a decade ago in Metro Vancouver and awards a total of $45,000 CDN to three writers: The winner takes home $25,000 CDN and two additional finalists get $10,000 CDN each.

Tap on the shoulder: Grewal

“The Dhahan Prize is a huge tap on my shoulder,” Grewal said of his short story collection Dubolia (the Diver). “I am happy and inspired to continue my creative journey with a greater sense of gratitude and responsibility,” he said in a release.

Grewal and Arvinder Kaur hail from India, while Boota lives at Chantilly, Virginia, USA.

Speaking at the gathering about his short story collection, Cholan Di Burki (A Mouth Full of Rice), written in Shahmukhi script, Boota said, “From an early age I have been influenced by Punjabi culture and language. This led me to explore my interests and curiosity in Punjabi literature. With this prize, I will have more desire to write and promote Punjabi.”

“The broad theme of Arvinder Kaur’s short story collection, Jhanjraan Wale Paer (Feet with Tinkling Bells), is the world of complex relationships between men and women marked by romance, love, loyalty, deceit, duty, obligation, betrayal, lust, and depraved sexuality. These are emotionally demanding subjects, even draining, but she deals with them with great restraint and lucidity, never surrendering to the temptations of sentimentalism and overstatement,” said the citation.

Record submissions this year

Launched in 2013 by Barj Dhahan, the founding president of the and the University of British Columbia (UBC), the prize aims to promote Punjabi literature to encourage writers working in the two Punjabi scripts of Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi.

This year, the organisers said, they received a record number of international submissions from countries, including India, Pakistan, the UK, the US and Australia.

Punjabi is the most widely spoken language in BC after English, according to Statistics Canada. “Punjabi is a Canadian language now,” said Dhahan in a recent interview.

Part of the ceremony included MLA Rachna Singh presenting a Provincial Proclamation declaring Punjabi Literature Week in British Columbia, a release from the organisers said.

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