Considered to be the first prominent woman Punjabi poet, novelist and essayist, Amrita Pritam was born on August 31, 1919. The leading 20th century poet of the Punjabi language produced over 100 books of poetry, fiction, biographies, essays, a collection of Punjabi folk songs and an autobiography that were translated into several Indian and foreign languages.
Amrita Pritam is most remembered for her poignant poem "Ajj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu" (Today I Invoke Waris Shah), addressed to Punjabi Sufi poet Waris Shah in which she laments the tragedy of the partition of Pakistan from India.
She was born as Amrit Kaur in Gujranwala, Punjab (present-day Pakistan). Her father, Kartar Singh Hitkar, was a poet and scholar.
In 1956, Amrita Pritam became the first woman to win the Sahitya Akademi Award for her long poem, 'Sunehade' (Messages). In 1981, she won the Bharatiya Jnanpith for the novel 'Kagaz Te Canvas' (The Paper and the Canvas). In 1969, she was conferred with the Padma Shri and in 2004 the Padma Vibhushan. She was also awarded the highest honour conferred by the Sahitya Akademi - 'Immortals of Literature' in 2005.
In 1986, Amrita Pritam was nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Noted lyricist Gulzar released an audio album, 'Amrita recited by Gulzar' in the year 2007.
Google on Saturday, August 31, celebrated Amrita Pritam's 100th birth anniversary with a doodle by artist Vrinda Zaveri. In the doodle Amrita Pritam is seen sitting in front of a bunch of black roses as she writes in a diary. The doodle carries a reference to Amrita Pritam’s autobiography 'Kala Gulab' (Black Rose).
On Amrita Pritam's 100th birth anniversary, here are some of her most memorable books.
Written in 1950 by noted poet and novelist Amrita Pritam, the Punjabi novel is the story of Hindu girl, Puro, who is abducted by a Muslim man, Rashid. Puro's parents refuse to recover the defiled girl when she manages to run back to her parents from Rashid's home. Considered to be one of the best literatures written with backdrop of Partition of India, Pinjar was adapted in Hindi film in 2003 of the same. The book was translated in English by Khushwant Singh and Denis Matringe translated Pinjar in French.
Amrita Pritam's celebrated autobiography Raseedi Ticket talks about how she felt distressed at the influence of hate. The Punjabi novelist talks about how a writer should not be afraid of criticism. It also describes the times between her intimacy with Sahir Ludhianvi and deep friendship with Imroz.
Fifty Fragments of Inner Self
Memorable moments by writer, poet and novelist Amrita Pritam, Fifty fragments of Inner Self is a heartwarming book that chronicles 50 memoirs of remarkable people and outstanding personalities. The book was published in 2003.
Shadows of Words
Another autobiography after Raseedi Ticket, the book is a reflection of her intense desire to present readers an incisive insight into her inner world. Not only does the book capture her life, but also takes readers to a spiritual plane.
Apart from these novels, one can also read the book "In The Times of Love and Longing." The love letters of Amrita and Imroz, the book is an interesting insight into the personalities of two highly creative minds. While reading the tome, the reader gets intimate glimpses of the extraordinary relationship between the renowned author and poet and her artist friend.
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