The Dhahan Prize 2018, a prestigious literary award celebrating the rich history of Punjabi language, has been announced by Barj S Dhahan, Founder of the Dhahan Prize for Punjabi Fiction. The prize aims to inspire creation of Punjabi literature across borders, bridging Punjabi communities around the world, and promoting Punjabi literature on a global scale. “The 2018 Dhahan Prize winners are well-recognised for their creative works, representing the three Punjabs — West, East and Diasporic. Their themes and stories are relevant and timely contributions in understanding the past and the fast-changing cultures in the global village are significant,” said Dhahan.
The Dhahan Prize was established in Vancouver, Canada, where Punjabi community, language, and culture have a rich history. Punjabi is now the third most spoken language in Canada and is a strong thread in the multicultural fabric of the nation. The prize has been established by the Canada India Education Society in partnership with the Department of Asian Studies in the Faculty of Arts at the University of British Columbia and is currently funded by Barj and Rita Dhahan, and their family and friends.
This year, the winner of the first prize is Baldev Singh Sadaknama from Moga, for his novel Sooraj Dee Akh (Sun’s Eye), which explores the life and times of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Two additional finalist prizes of 10,000 Canadian dollars will be given to Nasir Abbas Baloch from Khushab, Punjab, Pakistan for the collection of short stories Jhootha Sacha Koi Na (Everything Goes) in Shahmukhi script and Harpreet Sekha from Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, for a collection of short stories titled Prism.
Baloch is a professor of Punjabi and Urdu and is currently teaching at Minhaj University, Lahore and is a Punjabi and Urdu poet, short story writer and a recognised playwright. Baloch is known to cleverly expose the contemporary sociopolitical system marked by corruption, decadence, stagnation and confusion. These stories were crafted by the author after a long gap of 20 years and are an addition to the rich short stories coming out of the cultural and literary heartland of Punjab. Sekha is a Canadian Punjabi author of fiction and non-fiction, who migrated to Canada with his parents in 1988. His written work explores themes and experiences that resonate with South Asian Canadians, such as inequality, social justice, and migrant experience. Sekha’s stories have been adapted for stage by many celebrated theatre directors in India.