Kolkata, Aug 31 : Amrita Pritam, who was considered as the first significant Punjabi poet and novelist of the 20th century, would have celebrated her 100th birthday on Saturday, had she been alive.
Google today celebrated the 100th birthday of Amrita Pritam, one of history’s foremost female Punjabi writers, who “dared to live the life she imagines”, with a Doodle.
Born in Gujranwala, British India, 100 years ago today, Pritam published her first collection of verse at age 16. She is most remembered for “Ajj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu,” her poem lamenting the traumatic 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. The work’s title translates as “I Call upon Varis Shah Today,” referring to the 18th-century Sufi poet Waris Shah.
Widely considered the greatest 20th-century Punjabi poet, Pritam also published 28 novels including Pinjar, a dramatic tale set during the time of partition which was adapted into a movie.
Her autobiography Kala Gulab (Black Rose), referenced in the Doodle art, revealed many details of her personal life, allowing other women to speak more openly about their experiences with love and marriage. Known for her mastery of the Punjabi language, Pritam lived in Pakistan after the partition, but also wrote many works in Hindi and Urdu, as her work was admired on both sides of the border.
Pritam also worked for All-India Radio and edited the literary journal Nagmani. In 1986, she was nominated to Rajya Sabha, the Indian parliament. Throughout a six-decade career, she produced over 100 books including poetry collections, fiction, biographies and essays.
Pritam became the first woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award for ‘Sunehade’ (Messages), and – in 1982 – she received the Bharatiya Jnanpith, one of India’s most prestigious literary awards for ‘Kagaz Te Canvas’ (The Paper and the Canvas). She received the Padma Shri in 1969 and the Padma Vibhushan in 2004.
In 2005, a French translation of her novel, The Skeleton, was awarded the La Route des Indes Literary Prize. Amrita passed away in her sleep on October 31, 2005, aged 86 in Delhi. (UNI)