DERGAON, Jan 17: “We must follow the ideals of Rupkonwar Jyotiprasad Agarwala to transform Assam into a vibrant State resplendent with values and honour together with a strong sense of self identity. As a true artiste, Jyotiprasad put Assamese culture and ethos on a firm footing and dispelled the darkness of pseudo-culture. The relevance of his ideals will hold good for all the time to come.”

This was stated by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal while addressing a large gathering at Golaghat Samannay Kshetra on the occasion of Silpi Divas commemorating the 72nd death anniversary of the cultural icon on Sunday.

At the central programme organised by the cultural affairs department in association with the Golaghat district administration, folk artiste Indreswar Pegu and singer Namita Bhattacharya were presented with the State government’s Silpi Bota (award) that carries Rs 2 lakh, a citation, and a memento each.

Receiving the awards, the duo expressed their satisfaction and said that now onwards they would be more duty bound to contribute to the cultural ethos of the State than before.

Delivering his speech as the chief guest, Sonowal said that Golaghat district had a history of being a leader is diverse spheres – from the country’s freedom struggle to the making of the first Assamese cinema Joymati, and from tea cultivation and agar cultivation to ushering in rural development.

The Chief Minister also paid his tributes to the daughter of Golaghat, Aideu Handique who featured in Joymati in the title role and contributed immensely to Assamese culture in spite of facing stiff challenges of her times.

Reiterating the State government’s pledge to make Assam a green State, the Chief Minister said that 8.50 crore saplings had been planted by the government with a view to making Assam pollution-free.

Stating that culture had been a binding force of diverse communities in Assam, Sonowal urged the masses to hold aloft the time-tested values of love, compassion and fellow feelings amongst all.

“In Assam, people are known to have existed in harmony and camaraderie since ages. We need to keep alive this enduring tradition. And this will be a fitting tribute to the Rupkonwar who thrived throughout his life to forge unity among the diverse segments of the populace,” he said.

The programme was attended by ministers Atul Bora, Naba Doley, MPs Tapan Kumar Gogoi and Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, MLAs Mrinal Saikia, Bhabendra Nath Bhorali and Ajanta Neog, cultural affairs director Jadav Saikia, and Golaghat deputy commissioner Bibhash Chandra Modi among others.

The programme was made attractive by several cultural items presented by different troupes.