TEZPUR, Jan 10 – The fourth biennial State-level conference of the All Kurux (Oraon) Sahitya Sabha, Assam (AKSSA), held at Sorjapur-Balipukhuri under Biswanath Chariali subdivision of Sonitpur district with a three-day programme came to an end on Wednesday.
The AKSSA, a premier literary and cultural organisation of the Oraons, was constituted to protect, preserve, popularise and promote the language and culture of the Kurux community, an ethnic faction of the Adivasis. Historical records reveal that the Oraons are aboriginals inhabiting the central tribal belt of India. They are the single largest ethnic group among the tribes found in this belt and the third largest tribe in India after the Santhals and the Gonds. The Kurux language is an ancient language and according to scholars, it is believed to be more than 2,500 years old. The Kurux (Oraon) language is now on the verge of extinction. The language is intimately connected with the culture and tradition of the people. Biswajit Minj, the chief editor of the souvenir, Kurux Dahre, published on the occasion of the meet, stated, “The identity of a community is derived from its mother tongue. The loss of our mother tongue will mean the loss of our identity.”
The Oraons call themselves ‘Kuruxar’ that is, “people who belong to the Kurux-speaking group” and Kurux is their language. However, Oraon is used in all government records and this name is used for all administrative purposes, Minj added.
The open session of the meet was presided over by Kamaleswar Toppo and attended by Santius Kujur, Rajya Sabha member, Joseph Toppo, MP, Tezpur, Nurjamal Sarkar, Sonitpur Congress president, Jihus Nag, vice president, Sonitpur Zilla Parishad, Dr Narayan Oraon, discoverer of the Tolong Siki script, and social worker Albinus Minj of Jharkhand and Dr Usha Rani Minj of Chhattisgarh.
Addressing the gathering, Albinus Minj, advocate, Ranchi High Court, said that the identity of a community springs from its language and culture. The Kurux language is on the verge of extinction and it is the responsibility of every member of the Kurux community to protect it by learning to speak it and teaching others to speak it. “If the Kurux language becomes extinct, the identity of the Kurux community will also end,” he added.
Dr Narayan Oraon spoke on the importance of the script and the correct expression of the language through an appropriate script. Rajya Sabha member Santius Kujur said that the Kurux language should be protected and it is not enough to write a Kurux title, adding that it is equally important to know how to speak the language. Tezpur MP Joseph Toppo also stressed the importance of protecting the Kurux language.
Earlier, the president of the reception committee welcomed the distinguished guests. A Kurux textbook named Puna Kurux Puthi Part-I was released by MP Santius Kujur, and a Kurux magazine, Naor Poop, was released by MP Joseph Toppo. The souvenir, Kurux Dahre, was released by advocate Albinus Minj.
A memorandum was also submitted to MP Santius Kujur, addressed to the Chief Minister of Assam for the redress of the grievances of the Kurux community.
Prior to it, the delegates’ session held on the second day of the event was presided over by AKSSA president Kamaleswar Toppo. Dr Narayan Oraon, social worker, was present on the occasion. He spoke extensively on the role of the script in the development of the Kurux language. He emphasised the need to protect and spread the mother tongue. Earlier in the morning, Kamaleswar Toppo unfurled the Sahitya Sabha flag. This was followed by paying homage to martyrs by the AKSSA joint secretary, Soren Ekka.
The role of language in the preservation of Kurux culture and tradition was discussed in the second session. Albinus Toppo, senior advocate, Ranchi High Court, was the resource person. “Language is the carrier of a culture and tradition which remains hidden in songs, folklore, proverbs, etc. If the language is forgotten, the culture and tradition of the people will also disappear,” he said. This was followed by an evening session in which a new committee of the literary body of the community was formed with Kamaleswar Toppo as the president.