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Friday, October 18, 2013

Ankho a Periodical in Ahirani

According to news reports, every day, at least one spoken language disappears from the world, as the last surviving speaker of the language passes away. This is true in case of India as well, the land of thousand dialects, all of which are in danger as the native speakers continue to switch to languages which are more universal, like English and Hindi. As a result, indigenous languages, especially dialects, most of which do not even have their own written script, die a natural death. Which is a shame really, as, with the language disappears the whole gamut of cultural experiences, how a community lives, hopes, dreams and survives.

A similar fate awaits Ahirani, a dialect of the Marathi language spoken in the region known as Khandesh, including Dhule district. Now, the dialect is almost disappearing from the public life, with parents preferring to communicate with their children in more accepted Marathi and with children picking up Hindi and English as their language of choice.

In this context, what can one do to do keep the language alive? The quest for this very answer led Mr Mahesh Leelapandit, a Mumbai-based educator and poet, to start ‘Akho’, the first of its kind bi-monthly magazine in Ahirani.

“This is an ambitious project and a mammoth task,” says Leelapandit. “The idea is not only to keep alive the language, but also to spread it among the people, especially youngsters to give them a feel of their own heritage.”

Leelapandit lists several objectives for the magazine. Foremost among them is to encourage youngsters write in their own dialect. It is a tall order, maybe, but Leelapandit wants to try it and try it very rigorously. Therefore, instead planning a commercial future for his magazine, he wants to distribute it in schools and colleges free, especially in areas where there is a large number of Ahirani-speaking population. Leelapandit hopes that by seeing the magazine in their own mother’s tongue, and reading it, young people will be encouraged to write and write in their own dialect and tell their own story and in the larger context, keep the dialect alive.

Ahirani do not have an original script. So, Leelapandit uses the Marathi script to write the Ahirani transcript. The aim of the magazine is two-fold. To spread the rich treasure of the oral literature in Ahirani, in a written form, and also translated into English, so that those who do not know the language can get a taste of the culture and literature of the people and land of Khandesh.

It doesn’t end here. Leelapandit also aims to enrich the treasure of Ahirani culture by translating world literature into Ahirani. One part of the magazine is dedicated to translate works of Indian poets in English translated into Ahirani so that the Ahirani readers can also get a glimpse of what is going on outside the dialect.

The first issue of the magazine was released in May 2013. Leelapandit is now working on the second issue.

For details, visit Ankho Periodicals in Facebook.
Or visit Mahesh Leelapandit in Facebook.

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