M A I N   N E W S

Giani Gurdit Singh dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The eminent Punjabi writer and Shiromani Sahitkar, Giani Gurdit Singh (84), passed away here this morning after a prolonged illness. He died in his sleep at his Sector 4 home. Giani Gurdit Singh had served in the Punjab Languages Department and went on to become a legendary writer. His book “Mera Pind”, one among several, was published worldwide.

The cremation will take place at 11.30 a.m. tomorrow at the cremation ground in Sector 25 here. The bhog and antim ardas will be held at Sri Guru Granth Sahib Vidya Kendra, Sector 28, at 12.30 pm on Sunday.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in his condolence message, said his immense contribution to the Punjabi language, literature and folklore and the Sikh religion would be remembered by all. He was a multi-faceted personality with the unique distinction of being a scholarly writer, well-known journalist, editor and distinguished researcher, said the Chief Minister while expressing heartfelt sympathies with the members of the bereaved family.

The Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said that in his death, Punjabi literature in particular and Punjab in general had lost a great son. Ms Bhattal sent her condolences to his wife, Dr Inderjit Kaur Sandhu, a former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, and Chairperson, Services Selection Commission, Government of India, and his son, Mr Roopinder Singh, Assistant Editor, The Tribune. Giani Gurdit Singh is also survived by another son, Mr Ravinder Singh.

The Governor of Punjab, Gen S.F. Rodrigues (retd), also mourned the death of Giani Gurdit Singh.



He captured the soul of rural Punjab
Nirupama Dutt

HE immortalised Mitthewal, an obscure Malwai village of the Malerkotla state of yore in Mera Pind, a book that enjoys the status of a classic today, and the book, in turn, immortalises its writer Giani Gurdit Singh.

He was a scholar of great repute, who made significant contributions in the areas of journalism, politics, Sikh religious studies and Punjabi culture. However, he was best loved and is best remembered today for his little epic that captured the heart and soul of Punjab’s rural life as it was in yesteryear.

This is not to say that his contributions in other areas were any less. He played a pivotal role in the establishment of Punjabi University, Patiala. On the basis of his report filed to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Takht Sri Damdama Sahib was established as the fifth Takht.

The Giani was the founder of the Sri Guru Granth Vidya Kendras in Delhi and Chandigarh. In fact, he was a towering figure in post-Independence Punjab, who held important posts and received many honours. But what set him apart from others was his integrity and refusal to budge from what he held true, no matter what the political climate of the time was.

A robust and earthy sense of humour and courage of conviction kept him active and alert, in spite of setbacks to his health, to a ripe age of 84. He authored scores of books on culture, folklore and religion, having started his career as the editor of Prakash, a daily Punjabi newspaper from Patiala he started in 1947.

His literary circle in those days included writer Suba Singh and Prof Pritam Singh. A spontaneous essay, written in his daily in 1953 on his village paved the way for Mera Pind, published in 1961. The Encyclopaedia Britannica calls the book “one of the most outstanding novels depicting rural life in Punjab.”

Well known writer Khushwant Singh had said of Mera Pind: “The book gives a lively picture of pastoral life, written in delectable prose, studded with aphorisms, anecdotes, proverbs and songs. The one thing that will give Mera Pind a long lease of life, if not immortality, is the fact that the author has used the Punjabi language as it is spoken by the common people.”

As the news of the Giani’s demise spread in literary circles, short story writer Mohan Bhandari says: “I have said it before and I am saying it now that even 12 Sahitya Akademi awards for this book would have been less for in it is encased the soul of Punjab.”

The book that defied classification did not win the Sahitya Akademi award but awards never make a book, readers do. Running into its seventh edition, the book is one of the best read in Punjab and commenting on it poet Surjit Patar says: “If you haven’t read this book, you have missed much of Punjab.”

Mera Pind portrays the innocence and simplicity of the Punjabi village before the intervention of ‘development’ and materialism. Paying a tribute to the Giani, Punjabi critic Bhushan says: “Mahatma Gandhi had said that India lived in its villages, and I say that the village lived in Giani Gurdit Singh.”



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