GUWAHATI, May 13 – The ideals of Srimanta Sankaradeva are still relevant. We have to rekindle his teachings. This was the observation made by President Pranab Mukherjee here this afternoon, while giving away the 2008 Srimanta Sankaradeva Award and the 2012 Asom Ratna Award at a function held at the Pragjyoti ITA Centre for Performing Arts, Machkhowa.
Referring to the December 16, 2012 Delhi gangrape, he said the country is passing through a ‘difficult time mainly in social perspective.’ He wondered as to whether the time has come for the country’s people to ponder over their moral standing and to reshape it.
Srimanta Sankaradeva had taught ‘service to mankind is service to God’. And this ideology is to be rekindled, avowed the President.
Describing Assam as his second home, he said his first visit to this State as the President of India is linked with rewarding two outstanding women of the country.
The President presented the 2008 Srimanta Sankaradeva Award to noted actress Sharmila Tagore and the 2012 Asom Ratna Award posthumously to noted litterateur Mamoni Roisom (Dr Indira) Goswami. Tagore received the Srimanta Sankaradeva Award herself, while the Asom Ratna Award was received by Mamoni Roisom’s brother Satyabrata Goswami.
The Sankaradeva Award consists of a gold medallion, a draft of Rs 3 lakh, a hand-woven set of mekhela-chadar and a citation, while the Asom Ratna Award consists of an eri shawl, a draft of Rs 3 lakh, a memento and a citation. Assam Ratna Award has been designed as the highest official honour of the State.
Addressing the function, Governor JB Patnaik described Mamoni Roisom Goswami as one of the greatest Indian writers. He told the gathering that Sharmila Tagore’s mother Ira Barua was the daughter of Jnanadabhiram Baruah, one of the illustrious sons of Assam.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said Srimanta Sankaradeva united the State’s people. The ideals he preached and the means of communication he evolved to reach out to the common people were unique.
The naamghar and sattras he had developed are also unparallel institutions. The State Government has instituted the Srimanta Sankaradeva Award in recognition of the contributions he had made.
In her acceptance speech Sharmila Tagore described Srimanta Sankaradeva as a leader of colossal personality. Referring to the Brindabani Bastra woven by Sankaradeva, she said that she would visit the British Museum to see this exquisite piece of cloth.
She also paid tribute to Jyotiprasad Agarwala, the maker of the first Assamese movie Joymoti and Aideo Handique, who played the role of Joymoti and faced social ostracism for acting in cinema.
Tagore described Mamoni Roisom Goswami as a very powerful writer.
Receiving the 2012 Asom Ratna Award on behalf of his sister Satyabrata Goswami informed that the South East Asia Ramayani Trust established by his sister will reward educational institutions to encourage study of the Ramayana and works of Mamoni Roisom.
The function was also addressed by Minister Cultural Affairs Pranati Phukan, Chief Secretary Nava Kumar Das and Principal Secretary, Cultural Affairs Kumar Sanjay Krishna.