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The word travels in time
- Samanvay 2012 to focus on the heritage of language

Calcutta, Nov. 1: The craft of words has travelled a long road in time, and has a long way to go.

The second edition of Samanvay 2012, India Habitat Centre’s annual language festival, will highlight and trace it’s heritage through the theme of Boli, Baani, Bhasha in Kasba, Gaon aur Sheher.

The three-day festival, beginning tomorrow, will be inaugurated by Chandrasekhar Kambar and theatre luminary Ratan Thiyam.

It will seek to preserve the delicate immortality of literature, through reflections on the past of the word and its future possibilities, featuring writers from Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and the rest of the country.

“The theme of this year’s festival revolves around the relationship between space and language. The Manipuri session explores the space as a nation, which has, in some ways, overshadowed other definitions of selfhood. We often talk about the Northeast as one entity. However, the session will give a close insight into how Manipuris confront this notion,” said Satyanand Nirupam, creative director of the festival.

Poet and novelist in English from Arunachal Pradesh, Mamang Dai, will participate in the opening reading of Purani Boli Naya Daur: Boli is Back! along with authors like Nabaneeta Dev Sen to deliberate on the oral traditions of regional languages on Friday.

On the literature, which is completely oral and deals primarily with the theme of creation, Dai says, “It is important to have your mother tongue behind you. I am looking forward to highlight some unknown aspects of the literature of my tribe, which is dying out, as the young people are not even speaking Adi any more, let alone carry it forward.”

Writers Yumlembam Ibomcha, Dhanabir Laishram, Bijoykumar Tayenjam and moderator Robin Ngangom will discuss the concept of nation and Manipuri literature’s efforts to confront the idea on November 3, during a panel talk on Manipuri: The Idea of Nation.

Creative director Giriraj Kiradoo outlines the importance of the discussion.

“Living on the margins of the national mainstream, Manipuri consciousness has problematised the nationalistic rhetoric in many ways.”

Poet and short story writer Yumlembam Ibomcha acknowledged Samanvay’s contribution in the preservation of Indian languages, hoping that the festival would be organised in different parts of the country for a larger reach.

“The oral literature of Manipur is the cradle of the written word — having ushered in the dawn of early Manipuri poetry or, for that matter, Manipuri literature, he said.

“Similarly, the royal chronicle of Manipur, Cheitharol Kumbaba, records the history of Manipur and its people from the early part of the first century AD,” he added.

This journey is likely to form part of the discussion.

Bilingual poet and translator Robin S. Ngangom deals with the conflicts that a poet is forced to confront in Poetry in the Time of Terror.

“I think the task that literature of the Northeast must address is what Albert Camus called the double challenge of truth and liberty. But at most, poetry of the Northeast can only mirror the body and the mind of the times,” he says.

“The bolis (dialects) and baanis gave the first oral and recorded expression to the thoughts of people who lived together in a community. Samanvay 2012 shall endeavour to trace their lineage and bring an impressive bouquet of offerings for the serious reader and for the seeking mind,” said Raj Liberhan, director, India Habitat Centre.