Assam down town University

 

North-East India’s Best Placement-Driven University

 

CALENDAR 2023

 

Pioneers in infusing technological advances into the academic curriculum

 

Presenting the Path-Breakers of North East India (Padma Shri awardees of NE India)

 

 

 

January’23

 

Prof Dr Temsula Ao (25 October 1945 – 9 October 2022)

 

– Naga Poet, Fiction Writer, Ethnographer, and Educator from Nagaland

 

A widely respected leading literary voice of the northeast, Temsula Ao was awarded the Padma Shri in 2007 for her contribution to Literature and Education. Her works have been translated into German, French, Assamese, Bengali and Hindi. Her book Laburnum for My Head received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 2013 for English writing in the short story category.

“I have lived my life believing / Story-telling was my proud legacy”

— 'The Old Story Teller', by Temsula Ao.

The legacy of stories left behind after Temsula Ao’s death at the age of 76 is not contained within what has been published as poems and short stories or in her memoir. It is a vast ocean left behind for multitudes of readers and seekers to discover gradually. It is a legacy that will stand the test of time, for in her writings she pioneered the words and themes that were distinctly centered around the Naga community.

Temsula Ao was a storyteller in the same way as her ancestors, who passed on their memories and their wisdom by word of mouth, through dirges and laments or through exultations of joy and hope in songs and ballads. Readers of anglophone writing will be familiar with Ao’s poetry and her short stories, but to the Nagas and to the people of North-East India, she was a lot more: an educator, a government official, and someone who was to create a space and a distinct voice in the domain of English writing.

Born in Jorhat in Assam and taught in Assamese as a student, Ao went on to be one of the earliest English language writers from the region to be talked about beyond the Assamese literary landscape. She inspired other writers from neighboring states to imagine the possibility of being published in the mainstream. Hers, in fact, was the first name that peeped out from beneath the overhanging shadow of Assamese literature which dominated the rest in North-East India – especially in terms of discovery by readers and publishers.

The Indian literary firmament has long tried – and succeeded to an extent – to create a non-existent category called “North-East Indian literature”, which clubs the writings from all seven states in the region. Not many outside the area realize, however, that each state has a writing culture of its own – which should be treated with its own distinct identity. Few have contested this term as vociferously as Temsula Ao: she did this through her writing and through her declarations in public forums.

Well before Temsula Ao’s writings came into existence through books, she used to teach at the North Eastern Hill University (NEHU) in Shillong, where she guided and nurtured students who would go on to be writers. She was, thus, already laying the foundation for a literary future for the region. One such student was Easterine Kire, who followed her teacher into becoming a lauded author.

Ao went on to become Director of the North East Zone Cultural Centre, Dimapur and was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Minnesota in 1985-86. Her stint as a Fulbright Fellow, and her subsequent exposure and interactions with Native Americans led her to the task of recording the oral traditions of her tribe, the Ao Nagas. Her poetry has been part of the MA English syllabus of Nagaland University, and the MPhil English syllabus of NEHU.

Temsula Ao’s first collection of short storiesThese Hills Called Home: Stories from A War Zone, published by Penguin-Zubaan in 2005 was ahead of its times. The stories are raw and laced with the brutal might of the Indian state and of what it did to its lesser citizens through its military and through laws that protect it from any scrutiny. Gruesome and replete with horrific elements of torture and oppression, the stories are also about resistance and resilience, and about how individuals can still take a stand against the might of an oppressive state in their own little ways.

Ao was later given the Sahitya Academy award in 2013 for Laburnum for My Head, a collection of eight short stories, but it is the stories in These Hills Called Home that her readers will always hold in an intimate embrace – for expressing in words the plight of people brutalized by state militarization, their spiraling into a dehumanized state, and the deprivations for a region cut off from the rest of the country by distance, ignorance and prejudice.

Raised in tough circumstances brought on by the early death of both parents, the remoteness of her home, and the additional responsibility of looking after her siblings, Temsula Ao negotiated plenty of rough personal terrain in her life. That she overcame each and every setback to inch her way towards becoming a teacher, an ethnographer, an academic, and a pioneering writer is testament to her indomitable will.

The centrality in the literary landscape of the region that she occupied was an extension of her persona: she was also someone who loved teaching and being with people, someone who had a public role in various capacities, someone who had an eclectic taste for music and sang with great delight. And it is this sum total that will be missed by those who knew her personally or through her books.

Go well, Temsula Ao. The words you crafted in your solitude over the years will continue to move readers and tell the world about the suffering and joys of your people.

Adapted source from :

https://www.eastmojo.com 

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February’23

 

Muktamani Devi (born December 1958) 

- Innovator and Entrepreneur from Manipur

 

From humble beginnings to becoming an innovator and entrepreneur by dint of sheer hard work, Muktamani Devi turned adversity into her ally and utilized her creativity and talent to establish Mukta Shoes Industry in Manipur, which manufactures hand-knitted woolen shoes. She was conferred the Padma Shri award in 2022 for her distinguished service in the field of trade and industry and in recognition of her inspirational and enterprising role in popularizing and exporting handcrafted woollen shoes.

 

It was in 1989 when Muktamani Devi decided to fix her daughter’s school shoes that changed the course of her life for the better.By 2022, the entrepreneur from Kakching ,Manipur made it to the list of Padma Shri awards for her contribution in the field of trade and industry.

Ever since her entrepreneurial journey began about three decades ago, she not only sold several hand-knitted woolen shoes for children, women, and men, but also trained more than 2,000 people.

However, the beginning of this journey was not a cakewalk.

 "I faced many problems. I didn’t know much about running a business. I didn’t have a formal training in shoemaking. I didn’t come from a family with money. I used to earn a livelihood by making caps and socks, and selling them in the market," says the mother of four.

Then one day, she decided to fix one of her daughter’s worn-out school shoes. "One of my daughters was in class four that time (1989). Her shoes would often get torn. Back then, getting a shoe stitched by a cobbler meant spending Rs 2 or 3. Even to spare that much money was difficult for me," she recalls.

"I had some woolen yarn left from a cap that I was making. There was also a torn shoe so I removed the top portion of the shoe, and only used the sole. Then I used the leftover green and white woolen yarn on the sole to make it wearable," she adds.

Her daughter wore the handmade footwear to school, and during assembly, a teacher called her out. The little girl thought she would get punished for not wearing black shoes so she started crying.

"I used to also make school bags also for her. The teacher then asked my daughter who had made the bag and the shoes. She took my name. The teacher said that she liked them a lot, and asked if I could make shoes in black as well. After that, I felt that making shoes for people could be a profitable business," says Devi.

Then she purchased soles and started making hand-knitted woolen shoes. In 1991, she exhibited some of her work at a fair in Imphal, Manipur. "I hardly had 10 to 12 pairs of shoes. I had a small stall, but there was a huge crowd. At the fair, I was told that I'll be needing people to turn it into a flourishing business," says the Mukta Shoes Industry founder.

Gradually, she started taking locals under her wing. Then in 1993, she participated in a fair in Imphal, for which she made around 200 to 300 shoes.

"The sale was good. A competition was also on at the fair. On the last day of the fair, I was told that I had bagged the top spot. Then the Manipur government also recognized my work. I was considered as one of the successful entrepreneurs in northeast India," she shares.

Following the success, she went on to participate in exhibitions and trade fairs in different places. Thanks to these venues and army families, her creations made it to homes in different parts of India as well as several countries like New Zealand, South Korea, Australia, and Japan.

Surprisingly, she does not have a huge store anywhere in the country. "I have employed at least 20 people right now. We make shoes with our hands. It's something that can be done by sitting on a mat, and while teaching your kids or cooking, so I don't have a store as such. But some shops in Manipur keep our shoes," she says.

Her products are also available on e-marketing platform Giskaa. "They are priced between Rs 500 and Rs 2,000. We generally don't take much time in making shoes, but putting together a pair of high boots for men takes us around four to five days," says Devi.

Years ago, she decided to become a businesswoman just to survive and feed her children. Today, she lives a comfortable life as she earns between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 5 lakh annually.

And now that she has been conferred with the fourth-highest civilian award of India, she is raring to go. "Padma Shri has encouraged me to do better, provide employment to more people, and improve the quality of my products," she says with a smile.

 

Adapted source from: https://www.firstpost.com/art-and-culture/meet-muktamani-devi-manipur-entrepreneur-who-recently-got-padma-shri-for-her-shoe-knitting-business-10522691.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

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March’23

 

Khandu Wangchuk Bhutia

- Thangka artist from Sikkim

 

Known for his exquisite creative works in the Thangka style of painting, Khandu Wangchuk Bhutia was ordained into monastic life at the Pemayangtse monastery after formal education and it was here at the monastery that he took up Thangka painting as a profession. He mastered the art under various renowned teachers. Bhutia has won a series of awards for his art, beginning with the 1981 National Award (Handicrafts) in Thangka painting, the Bharat Excellence as part of the Friendship Forum of India in 2001 and Kala Nidhi at the Surajkund fair in Haryana in 2006. In 2022, he was conferred the Padma Shri for his contribution to the field of Art.

63 years old Khandu Wangchuk Bhutia from Namchi, South Sikkim makes it to the list of awardees for the fourth highest civilian award in India ‘Padma Shri’. He is being conferred with the prestigious award in Art Category.

Bhutia is one of the most prominent independent Thanka artist from Sikkim and has been practicing his art since the age of 15. Bhutia acquired the art under the guidance of his masters Zapa Acho and Phuntshok Sangpo and has passed the techniques and teaching of Thanka Art to almost 400 young minds in Sikkim.

He has also been awarded with various awards and accolades. He has been conferred with the National Award in handicrafts from the Ministry of Textiles, Government of India in the year 1981, Kala Nedhi Award in the year 2006 and the Bharat Excellence award from the Friendship Forum of India. He currently resides at Namchi, South Sikkim and is married to Tshering Diki and has a son and two daughters.

Adapted source from : https://www.thesikkimchronicle.com/sikkims-thanka-artist-khandu-wangchuk-bhutia-to-be-conferred-with-padma-shri-award/

 

 

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April’23

 

Keepu Tsering Lepcha

- social worker, educationist, former civil servant and the founder of the Human Development Foundation of Sikkim (HDFS)

 

Keepu Tsering, was one among the 1000 Peace Women, the global organization which was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. The same year, she was awarded the title, “Jewel of Sikkim,” by the Sikkim Intellectuals Conference on Humanism, Nationalism and Peace. In 2007, she received the Best Social Service Award from the Govt. of Sikkim. In 2009, the Padma Shri was awarded to her by the Govt. of India.

 

She went on to get awards and accolades for her social work such as the Real Heroes Award from the Reliance Foundation in 2012 and the Senior Citizen Award for her services to the Lepcha community in 2013 by CNN-IBN. A spinster by choice, she still chairs the organization since its inception which won the National Award for Children’s Welfare in 2003, and it runs a school with close to 400 underprivileged children under its care.

 

Her occupation involves her as a Social - worker, Civil servant and an Educationist.

 In 1942, Keepu Tsering was born in a remote Sikkim Lepcha household to a government official. She attended Gangtok Schools for her primary and secondary studies. She afterwards enrolled in Kolkata University to complete her undergraduate studies, and she later earned her master's degree also at that institution. She is proficient in six languages, notably Bengali, Lepcha, Bhutia, English, Hindi, Nepali, and Nepali. She also has vast knowledge of Himalayan culture.

She was designated principal of the Enchey Senior Secondary School in Gangtok in 1967, although she served there for a brief time before transferring to the Government High School in Gangtok, where Tibetan refugees made up the majority of the student body.

Later, she made the decision to work for the government, rising to the position of assistant director of education with the additional duty of supervising the primary teacher training for teachers. She took the initiative at this time to start publishing elementary school textbooks and training teachers in the native dialects.

Keepu Tsering began working for the Sikkim Civil Service in 1994 and progressed through the ranks to become a joint secretary. For 28 years, she oversaw the Rural Development Agency as a project director and participated in rural development initiatives. At the time of her retirement in 2000, she served as the department's secretary for sports and youth affairs. She continued her social work, for which she established the Human Development Foundation of Sikkim, during her time in the government service.

She made a tremendous contribution in protecting Lepcha language and culture. She has been looking after a few Lepcha kids who have resided in her home, The Lepcha Cottage, since 1989. 

She has served as the union's chair since its founding, and the group, which in 2003 received the National Award for Children's Welfare, and operates a school for 400 underprivileged kids.

One of the 1000 Peace Women from 2010 to 2018 was Keepu Tsering. Keepu Tsering was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 thanks to the Global Organization. She received the honorary title of "Jewel of Sikkim" from the Sikkim Intellectuals Conference on Humanism, Nationalism, and Peace in the same year.

Two years later, she received the Best Social Service Award of the Government of Sikkim, the investiture ceremony taking place on 16 May 2007. The Government of India awarded her the civilian honour of the Padma Shri in 2009, and she received the Real Heroes Award of the Reliance Foundation in 2012. In 2013, CNN-IBN awarded her the Senior Citizen Award for her services to the Lepcha community.

 Adapted source from : https://himalayaninitiatives.org/keepu-tsering-lepcha/

 

 

 

 

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May’23

 

Prof. Badaplin War

- linguist, translator, litterateur, and educationist from Meghalaya

 

An expert on Khasi linguistics, literature, culture and translation, Prof. Badaplin War was conferred the Padma Shri in 2022 for her contribution to the fields of Literature and Education, by President Ram Nath Kovind. She has nine books to her name that deal with the Khasi language and literature. She has presented numerous research papers in both national and international forums.

Professor Badaplin War is an educator, translator, linguist, and holder of the Padma Shri Award. Her areas of interest and/or specialization are Khasi morphology, phonology, sociolinguistics, literature in translation, Khasi literature, and Khasi culture. She received her PhD in linguistics from the University of London.

She began working at North-Eastern Hill University's Department of Khasi in 1983 as a Lecturer before rising to the position of Reader in 1996 and finally Professor in 2001. She is the author of nine books and, as you might guess, has delivered many papers at both national and international conferences.

 

She is Founder President of the Society for Khasi Studies, a member of the Advisory Committee for the State Literary Award of the Government of Meghalaya, Treasurer of the Khasi Authors' Society, and a member of the Main Committee for the inclusion of the Khasi Language in the 8th Schedule of the Indian Constitution, according to her list of academic affiliations.

On the eve of Republic Day 2022, the Indian President presented her with the Padma Shri for her contributions to literature and education.

 

Adapted source from: https://meghalayaat50.com/prof-badaplin-war/

 

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June’23

 

Konsam Ibomcha Singh

- doll maker from Manipur 

 

Sixty-year-old Konsam Ibomcha Singh is a traditional Laiphadibi doll maker who has played an instrumental role in preserving a century-old doll-making technique of the Meitei community in Manipur. He was conferred the Padma Shri Award in 2022 in recognition of his distinguished services in the Arts. Coincidentally both his mother and father are themselves National Awardees, with his father, Konsam Tona Singh having won the National award in Dolls and Toys category in 1984 and his mother Konsam Ongbi Gambhini Devi for the Kauna crafts in 1983.

 

Konsam Ibomcha Singh was born to National Awardee parents in Imphal East, Manipur. His mother, Konsam Ongbi Gambhini Devi, and father, Konsam Tona Singh, each received awards for their work in the Kauna Craft and Dolls and Toys categories. The decision by Ibomcha to use his father's century-old doll-making technique, for which he received the Manipur State Award, came as no surprise.

 

"My father modified the state's traditional dolls' manufacturing process. Ibom Cha, 58, who lives barely three kilometers from the main marketplace, claims that he is now the only person in his area who makes these kinds of dolls. 

 

One of the prominent states in the North East is Manipur, which is rich in traditional arts, crafts, and culture. Some people equate the state with the graceful and traditional Manipuri dance, one which Jhaveri sisters' quartet of classical dancers from Gujarat popularize throughout the rest of the nation. Another activity that originated in Manipur is horseback polo. The Mughals are believed to have imported the older form, which Emperor Babur popularized across India.

 

Some people associate Manipur with the traditional, vibrantly dressed dolls. These dolls, sometimes known as Laiphadibi or Laidhibi, are created by older women for children out of recycled clothing. The words "Lai" and "Phadi" in the Meitei dialect of Manipuri are used to refer to God, old rags, and the feminine gender, respectively. These dolls are said to have feelings, according to an old legend. Children are instructed to put their dolls back in their lubak (bamboo basket) after playing with them because otherwise, they will wander about under the banana plant crying all night long.

 

Ibomcha says, “We changed the traditional doll-making style by replacing the rags with dried grass that are formed into shape with thin wires which are then glued with cloth. This is held tight by smearing with a paste of locally sourced clay and a fine powder made of grass. They are then dried in the sun. Later, the dried dolls are smoothened to get a uniform surface. I then paint them using acrylic paints. A single colour is used to paint the body and red and black, among other colours, are used to paint the facial expressions. The technique is almost similar to the one used in making the idol of Maa Durga during the Durga Puja festival. The last step is dressing the doll.”

 

Every component of Ibomcha's dolls is handmade, which adds to their attractiveness. These dolls are handmade without the use of mass manufacture or moulds. Because of this, making each doll requires at least a week. The heights of these dolls range from 10" to 12" to 16" to 18" to 24". Over the course of the Dussehra celebration, he also creates two or three life-size Maa Durga idols. He charges upwards of Rs 1,000 for dolls. One of the most expensive Radha-Krishna dolls he had created was 4 feet tall and cost Rs 50,000.

 

Although figurines of Radha-Krishna or individual Lord Krishna's idols are the most frequently requested, Ibomcha has expanded to produce other types of figurines as well. He has dolls representing Manipur's tribal troops, dancers, and women doing household chores like pounding rice, collecting fish, weaving garments, and praying among other things in his collection.

Ibomcha, a father of three children (a son and two daughters), remembers his difficult childhood. "There was a period when I hardly made ends meet," he claims. A small number of people purchased the dolls, which were each sold for no more than Rs 300. Even though I am a graduate, it wasn't easy to find a work back then, so I considered taking on another job.

 

Manipur and the other North Eastern states have experienced economic growth since the late 1990s, and Imphal has one of the three biggest airports in the region, making it quite accessible to the rest of the nation. The city was also a part of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs' Smart Cities Mission. This has greatly benefited the state's handcraft industry.

Ibomcha declares, "Now our State Government sends me large orders. They give my dolls to their visitors as gifts or put them on sale in the tourist section. Even banks order gifts for their clients.

 

Despite his recent success, he is still hesitant to let his kids pursue doll-making as a full-time career. "My older daughter, who is a student at a nearby college, has a passion for the arts and wanted to start crafting dolls. However, I was hesitant because this sort of art doesn't pay much, explains the doll creator.

 

 

 

 

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July’23

 

Dhaneswar Engti

- former civil servant and litterateur from Assam

 

Eminent writer and lyricist from the Karbi Anglong district of Assam, Dhaneswar Engti is known for his contribution towards Karbi literature and music. He has authored 19 books and written around 100 songs in the Karbi language. He is a recipient of the prestigious Kristinandan Literary Award in 2017. He was conferred the Padma Shri award in 2022 for his distinguished service in the field of literature and education, more specifically for his work towards the preservation and advancement of indigenous languages.

 

 

Dhaneswar Engti, a poet and author from the Indian State of Assam, were born on 1 November 1955. He advocates for the use of the critically endangered Karbi language, which is used by the Karbi people of Northeastern India (also known as the Mikir or Arleng). In the Karbi language, Engti has written 19 books and almost 100 songs. Additionally, he held the position of Joint Secretary for the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council. He received the Padma award from the Indian government in 2022 in recognition of his efforts to improve and preserve indigenous languages.

 

Dhaneswar Engti began his schooling at Merrok Govt M.E. School in Dengaon, where he graduated in 1972 after passing the HSLC test. He earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature from Govt College in Diphu in 1978 and an MA in English from Guwahati University in 1981. He retired from his position as Joint Secretary of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council in 2017.

When Dhaneswar Engti was still a school student, he began to write. In the beginning, he wrote in Karbi for publication in school journals as well as in monthly Karbi magazines distributed from Dengaon and Diphu. When he enrolled in Govt Aided High School, Dengaon, he subsequently began writing in the Assamese language. Additionally, he began to compose songs in the Karbi language for performance at public gatherings and cultural events. Engti has written almost 100 songs in the Karbi language and 19 books in all.

 

 

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August’23

 

T Senka Ao

 

- litterateur from Nagaland

 

Senka Ao is best known for his role as Editor-in-Chief of the "Ao Milen," the first newspaper in Nagaland established in 1933. It was also the first newspaper to have been published in the local Ao language. Senka Ao has contributed several articles to various publications and has authored nine books in the Ao language. He is a recipient of the Nagaland Governor's Award in Literature in the year 2016. He was conferred the Padma Shri award in 2022 for his distinguished service in the field of literature and education and for recognition of his service as a "Tribal Ao Author, Teacher and Journalist.” He has been instrumental in preserving Nagaland's Ao language through his writings over the decades.

 

Born on June 6, 1945 in Mokokchung town, Nagaland, Senka (76) is popularly known for his 20 years stint as the editor-in-chief of the oldest Newspaper in Nagaland, Ao Milen, which started in the year 1933.
During the same period, he was credited for creating the famous “Alokba” character, known for his witty commentary on social and current issues.
Besides many articles in various publications, he has authored nine books in Ao language and another is still in print, according to family sources.
Two of his books, “Kongro Lijen (The Abode of the Maidens) and Kishi Tezulen (Off the Doorway) are in the process of translation into English while his books are also included in the syllabus of the Ao Language in ICSE and ISC Board, New Delhi, and up to class 10 under Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE).
He is an examiner of “Arrangtet Examination” which is the highest Ao Language Degree.
Also a recipient of Nagaland Governor’s Award in Literature in the year 2016, T Senka was pivotal in bringing peace and understanding between the “warring rivals” during many communal crises and feuds including being a member of Peace Committee in solving communal feud between Aos and Sumis in 1981 as well as member of Peace Committee 1985 during the violent confrontation between Assam and Nagaland at Merapani.
He also played a pivotal role in the formation of Joint People Forum (JPF) having representation from both Nagaland and Assam in collaboration with the district administration. As a social worker, T Senka was elected as a member of the Mokokchung Town Committee (MTC), a member of the All-India Radio Campaign in Mokokchung in 1972.

T Senka Ao from Nagaland, who was amongst the 107 recipients of “Padma Shri” for the year 2022 was finally conferred with the fourth highest civilian award in the country. He was recognized for his contribution in Literature and Education.
The Padma awards are conferred by the President of India at ceremonial functions held at Rashtrapati Bhawan usually around March or April every year.

The “tribal Ao author, teacher and a journalist who has preserved Nagaland’s Ao language (dialect) through his writings over the decades, his matriculation from Government High School (GHS), Mokokchung, and graduated in 1969 from St Anthony’s College, Shillong, then under Gauhati University.
He was a very active participant in public life since his student’s days holding various posts including the president including Naga Student’s Union Shillong (NSUS) from 1968-1969, President, Mokokchung Town Student’s Union (1964-1965) and President, Ao Student’s Conference (1973-1976).
In the field of Education, he was the Joint Secretary in the Voluntary Adult Education Campaign (VAEC) in Mokokchung district from 1975 to 1979.
He was also the founder of the Model Night School, in 1972, the school which was started to felicitate the surrendered Naga political workers who desired for the continuation of their educational career while successfully enrolling many and at present the school felicitates the housewives, and less privilege people for their education.

 

Adapted source from: https://thefrontiermanipur.com/nagalands-litterateur-and-educationist-t-senka-ao-conferred-padma-shri-2022/

 

 

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September’23

 

Guru Tulku Rinpoche

 

- Buddhist monk and spiritual leader from Arunachal Pradesh

 

Guru Tulku Rinpoche (54) is believed to have been recognized as the reincarnation of the Late Thupten Kelden Rinpoche at the age of five by the 14th Dalai Lama. After completing his monastic studies and training, he served at the office of the Dalai Lama from 1998 and continued there for ten years till he was appointed as Abbot of the Tawang monastery in 2008 until 2016. He was conferred the Padma Shri award in 2022 for his contribution to the field of spiritualism, education and various social works.

 

On the 28th of March 2022, an abbot from Arunachal Pradesh made a national headline and brought laurels to the dawn-lit land of India. Through the hands of the Honorable President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Guru Tulku Rinpoche of Arunachal Pradesh received the fourth highest civilian award of Padma Shri. He was awarded for his immense contribution to the field of spiritualism in the region.

Buddhism has been one of the prominent religions that have influenced many of the indigenous communities of Arunachal Pradesh. Following the path of Lord Buddha, spiritual teachers like Guru Tulku Rinpoche have dedicated their time and devotion to the propagation of the religion and contributed a lot in disseminating spiritual words of peace and teachings of enlightenment and non-violence to the local populace. Guru Tulku Rinpoche is the 12th Abbot of Thubchog Gatsel Ling Monastery in Bomdila. He was born to Yab Lobsang Tshering & Yum Pema Choden on the 19th of October 1968 at Khamkharong in the West Kameng district of the state. Interestingly enough, just at the young age of five, he was believed to be the reincarnation of Late Thupten Kelden Rinpoche by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama himself! The late Thupten Kelden Rinpoche was the 11th Merag Lama. When Guru Tulku Rinpoche was about the age of seven, his traditional haircutting was carried out by Dalai Lama and was named Tenzin Kelden.

His initial journey in the path of spiritualism can be said to have started at the age of nine when he was ordained as a novice monk or a getshul. In the following years, at the age of twenty, he was ordained as a monk or a gelong during which he devoted his time studying at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics for 13 years. To be proficient in his journey of spiritualism, Rinpoche was enrolled in the Drepung Monastic University of South India where he studied diligently and completed his Ph.D. studies in Buddhist doctrines. From there he took up the Mahayana tantric studies for the next five years to come. However, by 1998, he had already joined the office of His Holiness Dalai Lama wherein he carried on the work during the upcoming ten years of his life. In 2008, he was declared the abbot of the Tawang Monastery or the magnificent GadenNamgyalLhatse where he took care of the responsibilities placed upon his shoulders till the year 2016 when he stepped down from his position.

Representing Arunachal Pradesh, he was among the 128 awardees who received the prestigious honour of Padma Shri under the ‘spiritualism’ category, he was accompanied by Sadguru Brahmeshanand Acharya Swami from Goa who was also conferred on the same. Coming home, his well-wishers knew no bounds of joy for the achievement made and welcomed him with much enthusiasm and warm greetings. Guru Tulku Rinpoche is not just a spiritual teacher who propagates the Buddha’s teachings to the people.

He is a prominent figure of principle and a great advocator of peace and non-violence. In a recently conducted felicitation programme at the Thubchog Gatsel Ling (TGL) Monastery in April 2022, he appealed to the people to follow the path of peace and harmony. While stressing that every issue can be solved verbally, he also laid emphasis on the conservation of culture and tradition in the region. His story is not just an inspiration to all but it also stands to remind us that the world can be a beautiful place to live in if we uphold the existence of peace and harmony.

 

Adapted source  from : https://thecriticalscript.com/article-details/the-12th-guru-tulku-rinpoche

 

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October’23

Pu VL Nghaka

- academician from Mizoram

 

Pu VL Nghaka, presently 90 years old, has been leading efforts towards Hindi education in Mizoram for over 40 years. Apart from having contributed enormously to the field of education in Mizoram, he is known for his outstanding contributions to social services and volunteering activities. Pu VL Nghaka is also known for his exceptional bravery, as witnessed when he saved the lives of three persons from drowning and in retrieving the drowned body from the river. He was conferred the Padma Shri in 2022 for his contribution to literature and education and his citation reads "He built a cultural bridge between Hindi and Mizo language by drafting a Hindi-Mizo dictionary.”

In 1930, V L Nghaka was born. He is the first member of the Mizo ethnic group to pass the Shiksha Visharad, a test that determines who is qualified to teach in schools. He earned his MA degree in 1976 and his MEd degree in 1980, both of which came somewhat later.

He devotedly promoted the Hindi language in Mizoram early in his life. He took the initiative to organise the first Mizoram Assam Hindi Prachar Samiti at Kawnpui Village in the northern section of Mizoram in 1954, before the current Mizoram State had been established. Later, this organisation changed into the Mizoram Hindi Prachar Sabha. When Nghaka received the PadmaShri award, the Sabha had 18 schools offering a BA in Hindi, 35 Prachar centres, and 64 Vidyalayas.

Nghaka is the author of a number of works aimed at promoting Hindi education. The most essential of these is a Mizo-Hindi dictionary, along with books on Hindi grammar and how to prepare for the Hindi examination ("Hindi Pariksha Sahayika"). In 1965, the dictionary was released.

He frequently acted as an interpreter between locals and Hindi-speaking government officials due to his proficiency in the language. Later, during the Mizoram conflict, this duty was expanded to include mediating peace talks between the Indian Army and the Mizo National Front. Through negotiations with the authorities, paying bail with his own money, and signing Bail Bonds, he assisted in getting numerous Mizo inmates their freedom on bail.

 

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November’23

 

Satyaram Reang

- tribal dance proponent and folk artist from Tripura

 

Satyaram Reang is noted for his significant contribution to sustaining and promoting the traditional Hojagiri dance, which is a complex folk dance that includes acrobatics and gimbal balancing. In January 2021, he was awarded the Padma Shri in the Arts category. Reang was also conferred with the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1986.

Hojagiri is a Tripuri Reang tribe folk dance performed in the state of Tripura, India. Reang or Riang are one of Tripura's scheduled tribes. The correct name for this ethnic group is Bru. It is performed by a team of 4 to 6 women and young girls who sing while balancing on an earthen pitcher and managing various props such as a bottle on the head and an earthen lamp in the hand.

Hojagiri dance form has certain Features as :

Every performer needs to use a Kalash, a traditional lamp, a bottle, a Baling formed from a cane used for rice washing, a handkerchief, a pitcher, and a simple plate in this dance form.

The movement of their hands and even the upper body is somewhat restricted, whereas the movement from their waist down to their feet creates a wonderful wave.

When the Reang belle dance twists rhythmically the lower part of the body while standing on an earthen pitcher with a bottle on the head and a lighted lamp on it, the onlookers are perplexed.

The Reangs also use musical instruments such as the Khamb, a bamboo flute, and a bamboo cymbal.

The Reang women prefer to wear Pachra and Rea in black. Reang women wear a coin ring that covers their entire upper region.

In addition, they wear coin rings in their ears. They enjoy using fragrant flowers as ornaments.

Slow hip and waist movements are seen in this type of dance form. This dance pattern takes 30 minutes to complete.

This dance genre depicts the complete Jhum or Huk growing process. This dance genre is similar to Hukni dance in certain ways, but the distinction is in the beat.

This type of dance is quite popular all around the world, and it is often featured in international cultural programs

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December’23

 

Shakuntala Choudhury

- Gandhian, freedom fighter & eminent social worker from Assam

 

Her life was devoted to selfless service, truth, simplicity and non-violence at the Assam branch of the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT) or Sarania Ashram, Guwahati where Mahatma Gandhi had stayed in 1946. Shakuntala Choudhury joined the Trust and continued her association with the Trust for the rest of her life. She was honoured with the Jamnalal Bajaj Award in 2010 for the Development and Welfare of Women and Children. In 2022, the Padma Shri was conferred on her for her distinguished service in the field of social work.

 

Shakuntala Choudhary was born on June 25, 1920, in Assam's Kamrup district. She was popularly known as 'Shakuntala Baideo'. Various news articles have described her as a freedom fighter who took part in the Indian independence struggle.

 

 Shakuntala Choudhary completed her higher education at Handique Girls College, Guwahati, and took up the vocation of a teacher.

Later, she met a devout Gandhian and acclaimed social worker Amalprava Das, and at her request, joined the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust (KGNMT) in 1947 in Assam.

Her tryst with the Trust would continue for the rest of her life. Founded by Mahatma Gandhi in 1945, the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust is an organisation that works for the development of women and children in the rural parts of our country and focuses on health care, education, vocational training and employment.

 

 Its headquarter is Madhya Pradesh's Indore and has branches in 22 states of India. In Assam, this Trust is known as the Kasturba Ashram or the Sarania Ashram, which Gandhi inaugurated in 1946. After joining the Trust, she helped to run the Gram Sevika Vidyalaya and at one point, was working both as the office secretary of the Trust and a teacher at a school.

 

Following the death of the Das, she became the head of the Trust in Assam. She served in that position for 20 years and witnessed the migration of the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans into India after the 1959 Tibetan uprising, the India-China war and the Assamese Language Movement.

 

During the 1960s, she organized Shanti Sena activities on the international borders. She was a close associate of Vinayak Narahari 'Vinoba' Bhave, the man who started the Bhoodan Movement, and travelled with him to the rural parts of Assam and translated his lectures from Hindi to Assamese. S

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