GUWAHATI, April 18 � The 25th Assam Valley Literary Award for the year 2014 was conferred on poet and Sahitya Akademi Award winner Hirendra Nath Dutta.
The award was formally presented to him by poet and former Vice Chancellor of Saurashtra University, Sitanshu Yashachandra, at a function at the Pragjyoti-ITA Centre for Performing Arts here this evening.
Delivering his speech as the chief guest, Yashachandra said that like rivers, poetry in Indian languages not just provides the speakers their identity but also enables them to relate to life much beyond the boundaries set up by a linguistic State.
�There are two seemingly contradictory functions that poetry as such, and poetry in Indian languages in particular, fulfill. It helps us mark the boundaries of our specific culture, and it also enables us to cross the same boundaries,� he added.
Dwelling on the distinguishing traits of regional language poetry, Yashachandra said that in the entire realm of Indian poetry, one could find some of the most telling depictions of river as a formidable frontier and as a vast passage.
�... I have in this context, greatly enjoyed reading three Assamese poems. The first is by the great poet Nilmani Phukan � to know whom personally as an honoured friend has been my privilege for three decades now,� he said.
Yashachandra spoke about and analysed three poems by Nilmani Phukan, Hirendra Nath Dutta and late Navakanta Barua.
Asserting that there are no levels and hierarchy in poetry and language, Yashachandra said, �Each so-called regional language is a national language of India � be it Hindi, Asomiya (Assamese), Gujarati, Marathi or Manipuri, be it Santhali, Bhili, Kokborok, Khasi or Mizo.�
The scholar concluded by saying that a true poet does not aspire to become a celebrity across the country and beyond. �A poet writes a poem, and that is all. Beyond writing a good poem in her or his own language, a poet does not have to do anything more to become an Indian poet,� he said.
Hirendra Nath Dutta, in his acceptance speech, dwelt on the things that shaped his poetic sensibility since childhood. He said that he had been inspired by the poetic genius of Srimanta Sankardev and Madhabdev, Lakshminath Bezbaroa, and many others during the subsequent periods.
Regarding Assamese language, Dutta said Assamese culture could be permanently preserved by the Assamese language only.
�The melody of the Assamese language keeps me overwhelmingly enchanted. Of course I cannot ignore the sovereign importance of English nowadays� we should assiduously develop our skills in both languages,� he said.
Litterateur and former Asam Sahitya Sabha president Dr Lakshminandan Bora also addressed the gathering.
Instituted by the Williamson Magor Education Trust, the award comprises a bouquet, a trophy and a cheque of Rs 4 lakh.
The trust was formed with the purpose of giving an impetus to education and cultural progress within the State. The award, which is part of the trust�s endeavour to preserve and promote the rich literary heritage of Assam, was instituted in 1990.