As the 10th Uttarbanga Sahitya Utsav-2019 was held in Islampur in North Dinajpur on 9 June, several literature lovers and participants were pleasantly surprised when they saw how a group of people from a small town like Islampur could organise such a festival so well by involving people not only from North and South Bengal, but Kolkata and other countries like Bangladesh and neighboring Nepal and Bhutan as well.
A few of them also discussed how such programmes changed their course and built several bridges in the last 10 years for cultural development through literature.
According to a local poetry lover, a magazine called Setu, which means bridge, started its journey from such a sub-divisional town like Islampur in North Dinajpur in 2000, with a joint effort of young boys and girls, who loved literature.
“It has gradually made a forum to organize a meet on literature every Sunday called ‘Robbarer Sahitya Adda’ after bringing together other organisers and publishers of little magazines. A weekly literary meet was finally converted into a festival called ‘Uttarbanga Sahitya Utsav’ around 10 years ago,” the programme was told.
Organizers have been holding the literary meet in a colourful manner in the last three years by inviting writers and poets from Kolkata, Siliguri and other North and South Bengal districts and even from Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh. The credit for this achievement goes to some senior persons like Nishikanta Sinha and Aruneshwar Das.
Renowned historian Dr Ananda Gopal Ghosh, who presided over the 10th Uttarbanga Sahitya Utsav-2019 in the Islampur Town Hall, pointed out that he had come in response to the call from Nishikanta Sinha.
During his short speech, Dr Ghosh also pointed out to the contribution made by the late Nirmal Datta one Basudeb Roy, who scripted the history of literature from Islampur and the contribution of four personalities.
Dr Ghosh also recalled how Aniruddha Majumdar, Harimadhab Mukhopadhyay, Haren Ghosh, Chaman Lama, and others took initiatives to organize the literature meet in Islampur in 1982.
Besides Dr Ghosh, other personalities, including promising writer from Kolkata Binod Ghoshal, Gakul Sarkar, Ram Abatar Singh, poet Prabir Roy from Jalpaiguri, and Abhaya Bose were on the podium during the inauguration of the Literature Festival. Prafulla Kumar Bagchi and Chanchal Roy came all the way from Bangladesh.
At least 22 persons were felicitated in the Utsav. Binod Ghoshal, Prafulla Kumar Bagchi, Prabir Roy, Sushil Barman, Gopal Laha and Abhaya Bose were felicitated under the banner of ‘Robbarer Sahitya Adda.’
Writer Dr Arnab Sen from Alipurduar was also the recipient of the Robbarer Sahitya Adda, but he could not attend the programme.
Ashok Thakur, Asheh Das, and Manik Chattopadhyay were recipients of the Radhaballav Ray Smiriti Sahitya Samman, while the Mayamangal Smriti Sahitya Samman was awarded to Parimal Acharya and Ranjan Saha. Pramod Nath and Dr Raghunath Bhattacharya were recipients of the Dibham Sahitya Patrika Samman.
Rajkumar Jajodia and Kirangopal De Sarkar (posthumously) were awarded the Trikal Sahitya Samman, and the Kalini Sahitya Samman was given to Souren Chowdhury, Shipra Pal and Chanchal Ray. Family members of De Sarkar could not attend the programme.
Snigdhasatta Sulekha Sarkar, Kumar Sukumar Dasgupta and Bikash Pal were awarded the Ek Mutho Rod Sahityakala Samman. Dozens of writers, poets and artists from Siliguri took part in the Uttarbanga Sahitya Utsav-2019. Editor of a little magazine called Daag, Manoneeta Chakaborty, and others conducted the entire festival.