By Himanshu Guru: ‘Bahi Haata’, the annual book fair of Balangir District, organized each year by the ‘Jilla Lekhak Parishad’ kicked off from 8th to 14th January 13 here at the Koshal Kalamandal ground. Around fifty thousand book lovers enjoyed the fair where the publishers sold books amounting to approximately Rs. 15 lakh within the 7 day long fair.
The book fair was inaugurated by Padmashree Vidya Bachaspati Sri Srinivas Udgata, the former Vice President of Odisha Sahitya Academy and District Magistrate Sri Debraj Mishra on 8th January 13 with the lighting of a lamp in front of Goddess Saraswati. Addressing the gathering, while Udgata described each book to be a temple of Goddess Saraswati, Mishra focused on the point that everyone should perfectly execute his duty irrespective of the profession. His hint was towards the writers, whom he wanted to give the best. Around 300 people attended the meeting while a lot of people visited the book stalls in search of their favorite writer’s books.
On the 2nd day of ‘Bahi Haata’, a multilingual poetry recitation was organized where around 40 poets from different age group and profession read out their poems to mesmerize the audience. Guest of this event was Ramesh Naik, retired Collector and renowned poet Harishankar Badpanda. Poet Krushna Chandra Barik and his wife Usharani Barik conducted the programme that took place on 9th January 13.
Third day of the Book fair was the time to discuss about ‘My favorite Book’ (Mo Priya Pustaka). The programme was presided by poet Ravi Pradhan, Bureau Chief, MBC TV, Sundergarh. Principal of Belpada College Sri Swarup Panda, Rajyabardhan Dhala Mohapatra and Mrs. Pushpanjali Dhala Mohapatra was the honorable guests in this event that took place on 10th January 13.Professor Debashis of Ulunda College said on this occasion that with the growth of age, the taste (towards books) changes.
A seminar on ‘the fate of the unfinished Medical College in the district’ was conducted on the fourth day of the fair. While the seminar was hosted by Odia daily ‘The Sambad’s Sambalpur issue chief Arabind Das, Dr. Benudhar Pande, Asst. Professor, VSS Medical College graced the event as the guest.
Pande in his speech said that nevertheless there are 3 govt. medical colleges running in the state, only the S.C.B. Medical College in Cuttack is equipped with all required facilities to provide proper treatment to the patient. He said, “we need a full-fledged medical college for Balangir.”
Another honorable guest of the evening Chandrasekhar Sahu, CTO Rourkela said that the district badly needs a medical college irrespective of the mode of operation, viz government, private or Public Private participation (P.P.P.). Perhaps it was the first occasion when a govt. official sought for a cause publicly.
The Balangir medical College project was a brain child of former Law Minister of Odisha, Sri Narasingha Mishra but it has not been completed so far though a long time has already been passed meanwhile.
A quiz was conducted by Natyabhusan Jagadananda Chhuria on the fifth day on 12th January, where the questions quipped were about art, culture, history and achievers of Balangir district. Sri Tulsi Jain, Mahapragyan of the Jain Community from Tusra and Dr. Bhanupratap Sahu, lecturer joined the evening as guests along with Dr. Acharya.
On the sixth day, cultural extravaganza was organized by the members of ‘Pancham’, one of the leading Music schools of Balangir, where students of the institution performed Odishi, Sambalpuri dances and sang songs. The evening was in memory of late Saroj Nanda and Dilip Mishra, two legendary musicians of the soil.
14th January was the day for the closing ceremony. Dr. Chhayakanta Sadangi and Sub-Collector Sri Jyotiranjan Pradhan, was the guest on this evening. Renowned book publisher late Supkaran Das Kejriwal was honored in a glittering function on this day and the whole programe was presided by 5th President of JLP, Balangir Sri Sashi Bhusan Purohit. Secretary of JLP, Sri Gagan Bihari Mohanty offered the vote of thanks this evening. A magic show was showed by Ashok Sahu in this function and some comic poems were recited by Sukadev Sahu in this occasion.
Renowned Book Publishing houses like Geeta Press, Holly Faith and renowned publishers from the state like Grantha Mandir, Vidyapuri joined the fair to sell and exhibit their publications. There were 60 kiosks in the fair.
Exhibition of the rare coins was an attractive feature in the fair. The coin gallery displayed rare coins including the silver coins of British, Republic and ancient India, the silver punch mark coins, Mogul period coins and some rare paper notes. The row also had the miss-printed coins like one that was used in super hit Bollywood film ‘Sholay’ where both sides of the coin were identical.
Balangir Jilla Lekhak Parishad originated in 1983 with Jagadananda Chhuria and Sanatan Thakur as the first ever President and Secretary respectively. The organization observed its first function in the successive year. JLP observed a Novel Centenary in 1988, when it published ‘Aloukika Darpana’ that included version of many top novelists of Odisha in an interview form (the work has been included as a reference book in Utkal Univ.) and celebrated the short story Centenary in 1992, when it released ‘Anya Rebati Sabu’ that contains Odia transliterations of many recognized novels of the country.
From year 2006 the Book Fair is being organized in a row each year. In 2007, JLP published ‘Ore’, the first ever Koshli short story collection. In 2008, book fair got the popular name ‘Bahi Haata’ (literary meaning – a market place for books) and recently it observed the 8th Book Fair. One of the main goals of the fair is to promote Koshli language, the vernacular dialect of the region.
Sashi Bhusan Purohit, president of JLP told The News Insight, “we are organizing the fair amid a lot of problems.” He described how biggies made them fool on certain earlier occasions for funding. Secretary of JLP Sri Gagan Bihari Mohanty wanted TNI to highlight the history of the organization along with the event, to make people know about the tough voyage of the organization.