Saturday, 4 January 2014

SSRE honours the Only Hindi Novelist from the Jewish Community

 Sheela Rohekar (right) receiving a memento from Shuma Talukdar, President, SSRE

True to its commitment to raise awareness of religious minorities with the aim of breaking the stereotypes that exist about them, Society for Social Regeneration & Equity (SSRE), on Friday, 3rd January, 2014, honoured the only Jewish novelist writing in Hindi (the most widely spoken and understood language in India) today, Sheela Rohekar, by presenting an award to her for her depiction of the Indian Jewish life in her latest novel Miss Samuel: Ek Yahudi Gatha (Miss Samuel: A Jewish Saga). The novel was published last year by the Bharatiya Jnanpith, a state body that gives out the most prestigious award of literature in India every year.
The only other Hindi novel that depicted the Indian Jewish life, Apna Ghar (A Home of One’s Own), was published fifty-two years ago in 1961 by Meera Mahadevan, ne Miriam Jacob Mendrekar, who is no more now. The event was significant as Rohekar suffers from a considerable degree of neglect in the Hindi literary world testified by the fact that she was invited neither to any of three literary festivals held in Lucknow (the city where she lives) last year nor to the literary festivals held in other Indian cities in spite of the recent publication of her novel, whose importance cannot be overemphasized.
Sheela Rohekar speaking about her novel

The award function took place at the headquarters of the SSRE in Lucknow in Uttar Pradesh, India. A memento was presented to Sheela Rohekar by the President of SSRE, Advocate Shuma Talukdar, Managing Partner, DroitINDIA Legal Services. 

Devki Nandan "Shaant"

A panel on the “Portrayal of Religious Minorities in Hindi Fiction” was also organized on the occasion, in which several eminent personalities of Hindi literature took part.

 Dr. Tukaram Varma

While Dr. Tukaram Varma, Retired Lecturer of Lucknow Christian College spoke on the portrayal of Christians in Hindi novels and short stories, Hindi poet and Buddhist intellectual Dr. Danda Lakhnavi drew attention to the portrayal of Buddhists in Hindi fiction.
                     Dr. Danda Lakhnavi speaking about the portrayal of Buddhists in Hindi fiction

SSRE’s secretary and Indo-Judaic Studies scholar Dr. Navras Jaat Aafreedi, who is an Assistant Professor at the School of Humanities & Social Sciences, Gautam Buddha University in Greater NOIDA, gave an overview of the literature produced by Jews in Hindi and also spoke on their portrayal in Hindi and Urdu fiction. Eminent Urdu poet and writer Anwar Nadeem emphasized the importance of the depiction of religious minorities in fiction.
Eminent Urdu writer and poet Anwar Nadeem emphasizing the importance of the depiction of religious minorities in fiction

Dr. Padmini Natu, Associate Professor of Sanskrit at Nari Shiksha Niketan Post-Graduate College spoke in general on the portrayal of religious minorities in Hindi fiction.
                                                                             Dr. Padmini Natu

                                                   Sheela Rohekar and Ravindra Varma
Dr. Manju Sikarwar, former Head of the Department of Arab Culture, Nari Shiksha Niketan Postgraduate College and eminent Hindi writer and Rohekar’s husband Ravindra Verma also took part in the discussion. 
                                                    Dr. Manju Sikarwar and Anwar Nadeem

The panel discussion was followed by a poetry recitation in which eminent Hindi poet Devki Nandan ‘Shant’ also recited his poems in addition to the panelists mentioned above.