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Oxford Book Store and Patra Bharati join hands to celebrate Bengali literary festival

Bangiya Sahitya Parishad. Image by Sanjoy Ganguly.

Oxford Book Store and Patra Bharati join hands to celebrate Bengali literary festival

India Blooms News Service | 20 Oct 2016, 09:14 pm
Kolkata, Oct 20 (IBNS): Kolkata's Oxford Bookstore will host a two-day Bengali Literary Festival -- the Appejay Bangla Sahitya Utsob -- starting Friday.

The second edition of the festival, to be held in collaboration with one of Kolkata's leading publishing house, Patra Bharati, took off in a unique way recently through a heritage tour of the some of the buildings associated with the literary tradition of Bengal, nay India.

Kolkata Police Museum - former house of Raja Rammohun Roy. Image by Sanjoy Ganguly.

"Bengal loves its cultural and literary heritage," said Swagat Sengupta, Chief Executive Officers of Oxfod Bookstore. "We haven't adequately mastered how to pass it on to the next generation. Our literature and cultural legacy can be preserved and thrive when millenials understand its relevance and take it forward in their own unique ways."

The heritage tour began with a visit to a former home of Raja Rammohun Roy, the 'The Father of the Indian Renaissance', a socio-relgious reformer and educationist. Although much has changed since Raja Rammohun Roy lived here until 1830, today the building housed the the Kolkata Police Museum.

Participants of the heritage tour in front of Ramohun Library and Free Reading Room. Image by Sanjoy Ganguly.

The next stop was at Rammohun Library and Free Reading Room, which was conceptualised way back in 1904 as a tribute to the memory of Raja Rammohun Roy.

The library changed addresses a few times before it found a permanent place in this present building at the crossing of Acharya Prafulla Chandra Road (then Upper Circular Road) and Sukia Street.

The library has many interesting anecdotes, one of which is that a person named Gobardhan Das Damodar Das from Mumbai (then Bombay) pledged Rs five thousand as donation through Satyendra Nath Tagore on the condition that the library should be accessible to everyone irrespective of caste and religion and no fees should be charged and the library be named accordingly.

To respect the gentleman's wish, the library was named as Ramohun Library and Free Reading Room on June 9, 1909.

House of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar. Image by Sanjoy Ganguly.

From the library, we made our way to the house of Pandit Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the great social reformer and educationist.

En route, we stopped at another heritage building that deserved more publicity and preservation as not only a literary landmark but as one of India's printing heritage.

We could but only admire from the opposite footpath, the building with the address 100 A Garpar Road. This was the house that Upendrakishore Roy Choudhury, the inventor of half-tone block printing, built in 1914.

The house that Upendrakishore Roychoudhury built -- where film director Satyajit Ray was born. Image by Sanjoy Ganguly.

Upendrakishore was a versatile person - a poet, author, entrepreneur and printing technoligist - and had built a printing press on the ground floor of this house.

His litterateur son Sukumar and film-director grandson Satyajit were also born in this house.

But little remains of the history except the name U Roy and Sons etched on top of the building. The building is being used as a school by the Atheneum Institution since 1931.

"Kolkata is considered as the cultural capital of India. Through this literary heritage tour, we would like to reinvent the hidden literary treasures that many people are yet to know in Bengal," said Tridib Kumar Chattopadhyay, Managing Director, patra Bharati Group of Publications.

The heritage tour ended with a glimpse of the Banga Sahitya Parishad, which was initially founded as The Bengal Academy of Literature, in 1893. It also changed addresses several times before settling down in this present building built on land donated by Maharaja Manindrachandra Nandy.

The heritage literary tour was conducted by notable blogger and Kolkata expert, Rangan Datta, who infused life into the brick and mortar buildings with his story telling.

Talking of the two day event, Sengupta said, "The Apeejay Kolkata Bangla Sahitya Utsob is being curated as a celebration as well as a treasure trove of information about the literary legacy in Bengali language."

While people in Kolkata will be able to join in the various programmes being held at the bookstore on Park Street, those living away from the city will be able to watch the live streaming on You Tube and a streams of blogs.

The main festival will have several sessions where eminent people will discuss on topics such as what kind of writing ehtuses them the most, can the colloquial language be  part of literary expressions, is the social media harming traditional literature, etc.

To make the two-day festival more participatory, contests on short story writing, graphit and literary quiz has been organised.

And probably, for the first time, visitors will be treated to a cosplay of favourite Bengali literary characters.

Reporting by Uttara Gangopadhyay

Images by Sanjoy Ganguly


Oxford Book Store and Patra Bharati join hands to celebrate Bengali literary festival

India Blooms News Service
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