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Fair on wheels inspires young bookworms

- In a decade, Porag Protim Grontho Yatra completes 439 exhibitions in Assam

Golaghat, Nov. 27: A mobile exhibition of children’s books has traversed a decade-long journey, igniting a passion for reading among youngsters in the hinterland and tea gardens.

The exhibition, Porag Protim Grontho Yatra, began its journey on a mini-bus in November 3, 2003 from the premises of Jadoomoni Chapakhana here, one of the oldest and premier printing press and publication house of Upper Assam. The bus carries 750 books at a time.

Khirod Kumar Goswami, the proprietor of Jadoomoni Chapakhana, who has been holding this unique exhibition, the first of its kind in the Northeast to showcase only children's literature, named it after his son Porag Protim Goswami, who died in a road accident in May 2002.

When asked how the idea struck him, Goswami told The Telegraph that his family has an age-old bonding with books that started with the establishment of the press in 1922. “On the advice of some well-wishers here, I decided to start a mobile exhibition of children’s literature to immortalise the memories of my son Porag, who was a voracious reader,” he said.

Porag Protim Grontho Yatra has till date completed 439 book exhibitions in various places of Jorhat, Sivasagar, Nagaon, Karbi Anglong and Golaghat districts. This exhibition on wheels travels to different places on the invitation of different organisations and sometimes visits certain places on its own initiative. At these exhibitions, young readers can buy books or can also just read their favourite books without buying them.

“It is the endeavour of this book journey to influence young minds, especially those living in the hinterland, towards the wonderful world of books and initiate them into reading from an early age. Not many of these kids get a chance to visit a book fair. In the last 10 years, if I have been able to make at least 100 children read books, then I would think my mission has been accomplished,” Goswami said.

On his future plans, Goswami said the exhibition was not a profit-making venture but a service. “I consider it an achievement as I am yet to approach either the government or organisations for funds. Despite limited resources, Porag Protim Grontho Yatra has completed 10 years. I hope other literary organisations of the state undertake such an enterprise to inculcate the reading habit in children,” he said.

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