Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Kalinganagar, May 11:
The 112th birth anniversary of Pandit Raghunath Murmu, creator of Ol Chiki, the script of Santhali language, was celebrated by Tata Steel at Bhitarmanika village in Kalinganagar on Wednesday. More than 300 tribal people gathered to celebrate the day and remembered the revered guru at this Santhal-dominated village in Jajpur district of Odisha.
A large number of people from Santhal community participated in the devotional ritual conducted in the morning which was followed by general knowledge and drawing competitions on tribal culture. Also, a quiz competition based on the life of Pandit Raghunath Murmu and Ol Chiki was organised in the morning session of the celebration. The afternoon session started with a tribal dance competition and the celebration concluded with the Dasai and Danta dances by a local team.
Guests on the occasion included Shyam Sundar Hansdah, an Ol Chiki teacher from Sukinda and advisor to Adivasi Jan Vikas Sangha, Kalinganagar, and Biren Tudu, President of Adivasi Jan Vikas Sangha. Addressing the gathering, the guests spoke about the great work Pt Raghunath Murmu and urged youths to learn and spread Ol Chiki.
Born in Dahardih (Dandbose) district of Rairangpur on May 5, 1905, Pandit Raghunath Murmu died at the age of 76. His birth anniversary is celebrated by Santhali people every year with fervor to pay homage to the inventor of Ol Chiki. After a brief stint in technical profession, he took up the job of teaching in Badamtalia high school. During this time, his interest was drawn to Santali literature. Santali is a language with its own special characteristics, and has a literature which dates back to the beginning of the 15th century. He felt that the Santhals with their rich cultural heritage and tradition also needed a separate script to preserve and promote their language, and therefore, he took up the work of inventing Ol Chiki script for writing Santali. The epoch-making invention of Ol Chiki script was unveiled in 1925.
He wrote over 150 books covering a wide spectrum of subjects such as grammar, novels, drama, poetry, and story in Santhali using Ol Chiki as a part of his extensive mission for culturally upgrading the Santhal community. Pandit Raghunath Murmu is popularly known as Guru Gomke among the Santhals, a title that was conferred on him by the Mayurbhanj Adibasi Mahasabha. Besides, the government of West Bengal and Odisha and several institutions including Odisha Sahitya Academy have honoured him in various ways. The great thinker, philosopher, writer, and dramatist breathed his last breath on 1st February, 1982.