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After 50, Marathi honours Konkani as the Chief Guest at All India Sahitya Sammelan

 

22 Aprill 2022 would be a historic day for Goa and Maharashtra. Jnanpith recipient Damodar Mauzo, a Konkani writer, would grace the 95th All India Marathi Literary Meet (अखिल भारतीय मराठी साहित्य संमेलन) as the Chief Guest at the inaugural ceremony at Udgir in Latur district of Maharashtra.

This gesture by the Marathi literary circle becomes most significant since at the 45th All India Marathi Literary Meet held in Madgao city of Goa in 1964, the Konkani writers were pushed out of the Sammelan venue when they had protested against dubbing Konkani as the dialect of Marathi.

Mauzo himself was one of the protestors among the group of around 20 young writers and activists. He was hardly 20-year old.

Mauzo, 78 today, became emotional while talking to  goanews.com about this gesture from the Marathi literary world. 

“I accept this invitation as an honour to Konkani, an independent language of Goa state. It proves that an era of congruence (समन्वय) has begun.”

Mauzo, popularly known as Bhaiee all over Goa, has been invited as the Chief Guest at the inaugural ceremony of the three-day most prestigious Marathi literary meet. It would be inaugurated at the hands of Maharashtra’s eminent politician Sharad Pawar. 

President of India Ram Nath Kovind and union minister Nitin Gadkari would attend the concluding ceremony. The literary conference would also be graced by Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackrey and several other dignitaries. 

Bharat Sasne, 71-year old Marathi short story writer, would be the President of this historic Marathi Sahitya Sammelan.

The organisers have said that the inaugural ceremony would have two prime speakers, Bharat Sasne and Damodar Mauzo. 

DEVOTEES OF DARKNESS

In the last 60 years, Konkani has proved its literary strength by bagging two Jnanpith Awards including ideologue and writer Ravindra Kelekar in 2006 as well as equally prestigious Saraswait Samman for Konkani novelist Mahabaleshwar Sail in 2016. 

However, the language that was included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India only in 1992, had to fight through the aggressive stand taken by the Marathi literary world, which considered Konkani as one of its dialects. On the same grounds, they wanted Goa to be merged into Maharashtra. 

In this background, the 45th Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan was held in Madgao in 1964 at the behest of the Goa government, then ruled by the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party. Eminent Marathi litterateur V V Shirwadkar alias Kusmugagraj was the President of this Sammelan. 

In his presidential address, Kusumagraj called those people who promote Konkani as the language and oppose Goa’s merger into Maharashtra, as ‘Devotees of Darkness’ (काळोखाचे पुजारी). 

As his written speech had already reached all the newspapers the previous day for publication, the young brigade of Konkani writers planned a protest in the pandal during his speech. The minute Kusumagraj uttered those words, around 20 youth spread out in the pandal rose up and started demanding that he withdraw his words. 

“We were hardly around 15 to 20 amongst the huge gathering of thousands of Marathi lovers from Goa and Maharashtra. Some of them started throwing chairs at us. We were pushed out forcefully. Ranjan Sardesai was injured and had to be hospitalised”, recalls 83-year old Adv Uday Bhembre, a veteran Konkani leader and writer. He was 25 at that time.

This was a second protest the young Konkani writers had staged after protesting at the All Goa Marathi Literary Meet held in Panaji in 1962. At that time, they had even marched to the dais and had given speeches by snatching the microphones. 

But Kusumagraj calling Konkani-loving Goans ‘Devotees of Darkness’ turned into a huge flame of protest at Lohia Maidan in Madgao within a week. The protest rally of over 5000 Goans was addressed by veteran leaders like United Goans Party leader Dr Jack de Sequeira, Urminda Lima Leitao, Narcinva Damodar Naik as well young speakers like Shankar Bhandari and Uday Bhembre. 

Through this began the long-drawn-out struggle that finally retained Goa as a separate entity through the historic Opinion Poll in 1967, recognised Konkani as an independent language by National Sahitya Academy in 1975, made Konkani Goa’s state official language and granted statehood to Goa in 1987 and recognised Konkani as the national language through its inclusion in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution in 1992. 

KONKANI WRITERS LAUD MARATHI 

Bhembre is also one of the happiest persons today with Mauzo being invited as the Chief Guest by the same Akhil Bharatiya Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal for its most prestigious literary conference. He told goanews.com:

“It proves that Konkani has travelled from the stage of getting humiliated as a dialect to the stage of sitting along with Marathi as its sister language. It also proves that Marathi language and literature has no longer remained a domain of the high-caste Pune-based writers but is now in the hands of the sensible younger generation which respects all the languages.”

Meanwhile, the Gomantak Marathi Bhasha Parishad has also welcomed the gesture of the national Marathi body. 

“I welcome the move of the All India Marathi Sahitya Mahamandal to invite our own Bhaiee Mauzo as the chief guest at the inaugural ceremony of the 95th Akhil Bharatiya Sahitya Sammelan”, said its president Dr Madhu Ghodkirekar.


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Sandesh has presented the facts well. I have great memories of 1986 struggle.

 
Rodney Pereira , Aldona

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