40th Jeebon Roy Memorial Day observed in Shillong
Jeebon Roy's contributions finds no place in Calm Fest
SHILLONG: Despite having contributed immensely to the growth and promotion of Khasi literature, acknowledgement deserved by Babu Jeebon Roy also known as the 'Father of Modern Khasi literature' is not finding place in celebrated festivals of art and literature like the ongoing 'Calm Fest'.
"Not even a song or a cultural item was dedicated to Babu Jeebon Roy on the occasion of 40th Jeebon Roy Memorial Day which coincides with the ongoing Calm festival held at the heart of Shillong city," said the Chairman of the Jeebon Roy Memorial Welfare Institute, SM Ali.
Stating that this festival is a celebration of literature, art and music, Ali said that a song or a cultural item must have been dedicated to this great man for his immense contribution towards literature. "Ironically, this event is being organised by the State Arts and Culture department," Ali wondered.
Addressing a gathering on the occasion of the 40th Jeebon Roy Memorial Day observed by the Jeebon Roy Memorial Welfare Institute and Lakreh Memorial School here in Shillong on Saturday, Ali asked "It is sad to see the Khasi cultural and traditional heritage in terms of music is slowly losing ground amongst the youth of the state with the advent of western music."
He, however, expressed his gratitude to some young people who still enjoys the serenity of the vocal cords of their forefathers. "Despite all this, we still have people who accept that one's root will always remain in one's heart," Ali observed.
Going down memory lane, Babu Jeebon Roy was born in 1838 in Saitsohpen, Sohra (Cherrapunji). He was the eldest son of Ram Sing Jaid Rani. Babu Jeebon Roy is known as the "Father of Modern Khasis" for his contribution to Khasi language, literature, linguistics, entrepreneurship and education. He was a government servant working for the East India Company. He later resigned his job as a government servant and worked in limestone mining. He became the first Khasi to develop mines, having leased limestone quarries in Mynteng Nongjri of present day Shella.
Recalling his contributions, the Head of the Khasi Department, NEHU Streamlet Dkhar said "It was 112 years ago that Babu Jeebon Roy took the lead to become the forerunner of the renaissance period of Khasi literature (1888-1990 approximately)," adding that his life left footprints in Khasi literature and culture.
Baby Jeebon Roy is responsible for promoting the Khasi language and literature besides waking up the Khasi people in those days from their deep slumber, reminding them of the need to uphold their culture and literature, Dkhar said adding that he has also brought about immense changes in the education sector.
With a motive to encourage the Khasi people to write book, Babu Jeebon Roy established the first printing Press known as 'Ri Khasi Press' in 1896. He also established the first high school in Khasi – Jaintia Hills in the year 1880 in Shillong, now known as the Shillong Government Boys Higher Secondary School. He also authored books like 'Ka Niam Jong Ki Khasi' (The Religion of the Khasis'.
Dkhar also mentioned that Babu Jeebon Roy is a man who loves to learn other literatures of the world. "He is a visionary who worked tirelessly for the benefits of the generations to come," she added.
Adding more light to the occasion, students of the Jeebon Roy Creative Art Akademi, Lakreh Memorial School, Martin Luther Christian University, Jeebon Roy Memorial Seng Khasi School at Phlangtyngor entertained the audience with their cultural songs and performances.
On this day, Streamlet Dkhar who was present as the chief guest on the occasion also felicitated renowned columnist Sumar Sing Sawain and two others students of the Lakreh Memorial School for their achievements in the board exams. She also presented the donation from the Jeebon Roy Memorial Welfare Institute to the Seng Khasi School, Mawshun.
(Paintings displayed at Lakreh Memorial school as part of the 40th Jeebon Roy Memorial Day)