People take out a cultural procession at Ahotguri in Morigaon district on Wednesday. Telegraph picture
Ahotguri Ghat (Morigaon), Oct. 16: When the Americans were reading Saki (H.H. Munro), Lakhminath Bezbarua, with his scathing satirical works like Kripabor Barbaruar Kaakotor Topola and Kripabor Barbaruar Obhotani, shook the conscience of Assamese society.
The man who led Assamese literature towards modernity had made the people of this area, 130km from the state capital, proud by coming to the earth in an archaic means of communication — boat. Locals like Gunahash Das, a retired schoolteacher, fought for 27 years to prove that this was the very place where Bezbarua was born in the boat in which his parents were going to Barpeta through Kopili.
“It was an elderly person, Rameswar Bayan, who was the first to talk about it. It took a long struggle of 27 years till Assam Sahitya Sabha finally recognised that Bezbarua was born here,” said Das.
There was a major controversy regarding the birthplace, and still a section wants to carry it on. But Asam Sahitya Sabha, the apex literary body of the state, thinks otherwise. Vice-president of the Sabha, Paramananda Rajbongshi, today repeatedly appealed to the people not to drag the controversy. “It has been settled. We now want a library and a cultural centre here to make Bezbarua immortal,” he said.
Today was the final day of the three-day inauguration ceremony of the yearlong celebration of the 150th birth anniversary of Bezbarua. The programme was held just a few feet of the old ghat with a giant ahot tree. Villagers here do not know when exactly the place was named Ahotguri but believe that presence of ahot trees was the reason behind the name.
Local Congress MLA Bibekananda Doloi announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh to develop the cultural centre while BJP MP Rajen Gohain, who represents Nowgong Lok Sabha constituency, was prompt to give Rs 4 lakh to develop a library in the litterateur’s name.
Veteran Assamese actor Nipon Goswami and writer Patricia Mukhim were guests at the programme. Goswami suggested that the Sabha publish illustrated books on the life of Bezbarua for the new generation.
Sabha’s general secretary Prahlad Chandra Tasa said the birth of Bezbarua had elevated the place to a great height. He appealed to the people to follow Bezbarua’s ideology. Tasa also appealed to the Assam government to take initiatives to declare Kati (Kongali) bihu a holiday, saying its decreasing importance is not a good sign for the Assamese people.
Three books and a souvenir were released on the occasion.
The yearlong celebration will conclude in Dibrugarh next year after programmes in states like West Bengal, Tripura, Odisha and Maharashtra.