Indigenous Literature: Building a bridge between cultures | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 17, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 07:03 AM, February 17, 2019

Indigenous Literature: Building a bridge between cultures

What is the origin of Garo people? How did they endure? What are their age-old traditions that help them remain together and uphold values?

The above questions were answered in a ballad, “Khabi”, by Porag Ritchil. The Garo author transcribed the ballad in his native language using Bangla alphabet. Porag said he compiled the ballad after listening to it from Kanu Ritchil, a Garo folklore enthusiast.

The book is a new release at this year's Ekushey book fair. It's available at “Thakbirim” stall on the Bangla Academy premises.

“I did not translate it… I wanted to encourage readers to learn the language and appreciate its nuance and beauty,” said Porag.

Like Porag, a number of indigenous writers have published books on their culture and heritage. These books, portraying their distinctive lifestyles and traditions, have added a new dimension to the month-long book fair.

Sumana Chisim, a prominent writer from Garo community, also has new publications. She wrote a book on Garo folklore titled, “Delong” from Thakbirim publication.

In the book, a strong and honest youth embarks on a journey to discover the mystery of a jungle, home to many mythical creatures. The book is translated in Bangla.

“Every culture is enriched by a variety of experiences and stories, which make it unique. By reading books from a culture, we get to learn about its people, rituals and discover many similarities with ours. Reading helps build a bridge between cultures, said Sumana.

She published a research book, “Garo Jatir Bebohrito Bonojo Ousodhi” (herbal medicines used by Garo people), also from Thakbirim.

Some indigenous publishers have set up stalls at the book fair to promote their heritage as well.

Sadhan Maibam is one such publisher. His “Teuri” publication brought out 35 new releases this year. Of them, more than 10 books are written by indigenous writers.

“Monipuri Lokokahini” (Monipuri folklore) translated by L Birmangal Singha and “Prantik Somajer Kotha: Garo o Hajong Janasamaj” by James Jornesh Chiran are some of the books generating much interest.

“I try my best to publish books by indigenous writers. They all have unique stories to tell and are contributing to the country's rich literary culture,” said Sadhan.

Mithun Raksam, publisher of Thakbirim, said, “Readers should be more enthusiastic about expanding their horizon and read indigenous books… then again, publishers have some responsibilities too. They need to promote the works of indigenous writers.”

A total of 206 books hit the fair yesterday. 

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