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Punjabi language can never die, says Sahitya Akademi awardee Atamjit Singh

Last day of fest: The playwright says the Punjabi diaspora feels the pull towards their mother tongue and will not let the language die; authors Manmohan Singh, Jasbeer Mand pitch in.

punjab Updated: Nov 27, 2017 15:07 IST
Arshdeep Arshi
Arshdeep Arshi
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjabi language,Sahitya Akademi,Sahitya Akademi awardee
(From left) Moderator Ravee Pandher along with Atamjit Singh, Manmohan Singh and Jasbeer Mand during a session, ‘Watan De Wark’, at Chandigarh Literati 2017 at Lake Club on Sunday. (Sikander Singh/HT)

‘Punjabi is not the language that can ever die,’ says Sahitya Akademi awardee Punjabi playwright Atamjit Singh. He said, “The languages that do not have the pull can’t survive but Punjabi is not one of those.”

Atamjit was in conversation with authors Manmohan Singh and Jasbeer Mand at the Chandigarh Literati 2017. Ravee Pandher was moderating the discussion. The discussion mainly focussed on the situation of Punjabi literature in the present time.

Atamjit further said, “A large number of Punjabis now live outside Punjab and the pull they feel towards their mother tongue will not let it die.”

Mand talked about the violence that Punjab has seen in the past 1,000 years which was mostly by the outsiders and how the people had turned violent to each other in 1947.

Love for language beyond borders

He recited two poems to tell that the love for Punjabi is as strong beyond borders as it is here, one by Tariq Gujjar named ‘Poore Panjab Di Adhi Nazam’ and another by Ahmed Saleem namely ‘Wahga.’

Mand talked about the violence that Punjab has seen in the past 1,000 years which was mostly by the outsiders and how the people had turned violent to each other in 1947. Manmohan added, “To understand Punjab, one has to understand Punjab’s relation and history with violence.”

Mand said, “Punjabis had invented a word for the violence in 1947, ‘Halle.’ This word gave voice to the feeling that ‘jo asin karya oh vi galt si jo tusi karya oh vi galt si’ (what we did was wrong and what you did was wrong). It was a word that came out of people’s minds.”

Changing literature with time

The writers also talked about how the Punjabi literature has changed with time. Atamjit mentioned a young poet, Harmanjeet, whose book ‘Rani Tat’ had a wide reception in Punjab. He read a poem called ‘Khyala’n da Lehnga’ and showed the audience how the poetry and the expressions in it have changed over time. He said that the sound and the music too have changed.

He said, “Fine poetry is being written on the social media, it is not the case that poetry or literature is the talk of the past. Publication is of course in a dismal situation. The number of writers in Punjabi has, on the contrary, increased.”

Introspections the key for revival

Mand said he had continued writing in Punjabi while living in Japan. When asked about his experience, he said, “When we see our culture and tradition after a gap, it gives the writer a scope to see it clearly and write about it.”

When asked about how they see the current situation, Atamjit said, “This is the period when we are writing about history. It means that we are introspecting. And introspection is the most important thing for revival.” He concluded the discussion with Jaswant Zafar’s poem, ‘Eh Banda Ki Hunda.’

First Published: Nov 27, 2017 15:06 IST