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GTA revives Ghisingh-era culture award

Darjeeling, Dec. 22: The GTA has decided to revive the Giri Puraskar, an award instituted by the erstwhile Darjeeling Gorkha Hill Council, after six years.

The award named after Nepali poet Agam Singh Giri would be conferred to hill writer Bindhya Subba and musician Karma Yonzone on December 27, Giri’s birth anniversary.

“We have decided to confer Giri Puraskar to Bindhya Subba and Karma Yonzone this year. The award is being given following our executive Sabha member Binay Tamang’s public announcement of reviving it last year,” Bhupendra Kant Ghisingh, the assistant director of the GTA’s information and cultural affairs department, said today.

The award that carries a cash prize of Rs 1 lakh, a citation and a medal and was instituted in 1994 to recognise excellence in literature, art (including performing arts) and music.

A seven-member panel, headed by R.B. Bhujel, GTA executive member, selected the two names for this year’s award.

Many believe the DGHC had instituted Giri Puraskar in 1994 to counter the Bhanu Puraskar given by the state government.

The last recipient of Giri Puraskar was Navin Kharga, a folk artiste from Nepal in 2006.

He received the award from Subash Ghisingh, the then administrator of the DGHC.

According to sources, Ghisingh started the award to distance himself from Bhanu Puraskar, named after Bhanubhakta Archarya, considered an adikavi (first poet) of Nepali literature.

In 1992, when proponents of the movement to include the words “Nepali language” in the Eight Schedule of the Constitution started mobilising support, Ghisingh demanded that the words “Gorkha language” be included instead.

On August 20, 1992, the central government included both the words — Gorkha and Nepali — in the eight schedule of the Constitution.

From the next year Ghisingh started celebrating Giri Jayanti on December 27 and the DGHC instituted the Giri Puraskar in 1994.

Writer Bindya Subba today expressed happiness over the GTA’s decision to award her.

“I believe I am fortunate to be attached with something related to our great poet Agam Singh Giri,” she said.

Subba, 60, whose first book was published in 1978, was conferred with the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2003 for her novel Aatha (immeasurable).

The novel has been translated in Assamese, Hindi, English, Maithili and Oriya.

“I am told that it is being translated even in Marathi,” said the writer, who has 14 publications to her credit.

Music composer Karma Yonzone, 76, started his career in 1954 and he has composed more than 500 songs till now. He received the Bhanu Puraskar in 1985.

“I am happy that I am getting the award as I had composed a song dedicated to Agam Singh Giri titled pahar ki rani (queen of the hills). It is good that the award has been revived as the youth was forgetting this great figure,” said Yonzone.