Language is our link to the past,present and future. The words bind us and connect the dots. Celebrating the power of the written word and the ability of literature to go beyond borders is The Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize,which was formally launched in Chandigarh,Lahore and Vancouver last month. The prize aims to raise the profile of rich Punjabi literature that exists globally.
Established by Barj and Rita Dhahan,the prize has been founded with an aim to recognise the universality of Punjabi language,inspire leadership in Punjabi literature and build social bridges between Canada,India,and other countries that have vibrant Punjabi-speaking communities. The Canada India Education Society (CIES) and University of British Columbia (UBC) have partnered to present the prize.
Barj S Dhahan hails from a Sikh family from rural Punjab. He came to Canada in 1967 and has since lived in Vancouver,British Columbia. Barj has been instrumental in launching numerous education,health,and community development projects in British Columbia and in India since the 80s. He is the co-founder and Director of CIES,a registered Canadian charity which supports health promotion,community development and job creation in Punjab.
The launch events in Vancouver,Chandigarh and Lahore brought together prominent Punjabi writers,scholars and community members. Surjit Patar,renowned Punjabi writer,who was present at the Chandigarh launch,said,This has the ability to bring forth new readership and a renewed interest in the importance of Punjabi literature. Nasreen Anjum Bhati,a writer from Lahore,emphasised that the longevity of language will only be sustained through literature. The prize will entice new readership and the translation of works from Punjabi into English. It will benefit writers and inspire new writing in the language, says Bhati.
The prize winning novels and collection of short stories will be selected by three independent juries – Gurmukhi,Shahmukhi and Central Jury. The jury members will be selected by the International Advisory Committee of well- known scholars,writers and researchers.
Submissions will be open from January 2 to February 15,2014. A cash prize of 25,000 CDN will be awarded annually to one best book in either Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi. Two runner-up prizes of 5,000 CDN will be awarded,one for each script. Winners will be in attendance (all expenses paid) at the awarding on October 25,2014,in Vancouver. For more info,log on to http://www.asia.ubc.ca/www.punjabiliteratureprize.com