It is said that a writer attains perfection only when he writes a composition for children. Writing for children is challenging and hard work. Among the Santali writers who have made the language and its literature popular among children, Saridharam Hansda is one of them.
He was born Basudev Hansda, in a lower middle class family, on January 7, 1955. He was born in a peasant family to Noha and Padan Hansda at Kumarda village, Jhargram district, West Bengal. He is the eldest of six children.
Despite having limited means, his parents educated him. Hansda received his primary education in Bengali medium from Bhagaband Primary School. Next, he went to Joypur Junior High School and Silda Radhacharam Vidyamandir. He graduated from Silda Chandra Sekhar College in 1978.
Hansda was drawn to nature from his childhood. He used to recite whatever he saw and it sounded like a rhyme. When he was studying in class seven or eight, he started penning Bengali rhymes by working on them secretly during class.
After reading Bengali poems prescribed in the school syllabus, he thought to himself, “When will such rhyming poems be written in my own language, Santali?”
One day, he was writing a poem in Bengali in a free period. He had barely completed the poem when the head master, Ananta Kumar Shatapathi, came to teach. A classmate tattled on him by giving the headmaster Hansda’s notebook. Hansda began to tremble with fear.
The headmaster called him and asked him if he had written the poem. When he said yes, the headmaster patted him saying, “You have written very well, write more.” His enthusiasm for writing poetry increased after he received praise from the headmaster.
He started writing Santali poems in the Bengali script, as the Ol Chiki (the script for writing Santali) was not as popular and well-promoted, as it is today.
He used to send his poems, articles to various magazines when he was in college. But none of them were published. Who knows, maybe the editors did not like his name.
His first poem was published in the Pachimbangla magazine (a monthly mouth piece of the West Bengal government) in 1972, under the pen name of Saridharam Hansda.
The name of the poem was Mujibur. This Santali poem was well received by readers. It was written in the backdrop of the language movement in Bangladesh.
Hansda’s pen name, Saridharam, was given to him by two people. One of them is Lalchand Murmu, a primary school teacher from Kumarda village. The second was Shyamcharan Murmu, the then-MLA of Jharkhand Party from Binpur Assembly.
His grandfather’s name was Dharam. Lalchand and Shyamcharan added the word Sari before Dharam in order to coin his pen name.
Hansda’s father was a skilled folk singer. Every evening his father sang Santali traditional songs. He learned some of them from his father. He also learned jhumar songs from Rakhahari Mahato.
As a result of his musical knowledge, he got a job in the Information and Culture Affairs Department and started working for the government of West Bengal in 1985.
Financial security gave him the opportunity to devote more time to literature. He started editing a magazine named Sarjam Mahal from 1986. He also worked for Santali literary magazines such as Hudis (1986) and Sagen Saonta (2005), as a sub-editor.
His first book of poetry “Jitkar Terang Sar” was published in 1999, fourteen years after getting a job. Then, one by one, his books started getting published. They are as follows:
His unpublished books are as follows:
His writings have been published in many literary journals and magazines like Hor Sambad, Sili, Pacchim Bangla, Tetre, Sagen Saonta, Jirihiri, Disha, Chiti Sakam, Kherwal Jaher, Mantar, Sandhayni, Jiwi, Aven Sakowa, Sikariya, Akal, Khandrand, Sarjam Mahal, Rimil, Hudis, Kherwal Jarpa etc.
He has received numerous awards and other such honours from governmental and non-governmental organisations. Some of the notable ones among them are:
Currently, he is involved with the All India Santali Writers Association and the magazine committee of Sagen Saonta. He lives with his family at Jhargram and continues to be one of the foremost proponents of Santali literature.
Article by Subhajit Murmu, assistant editor of Juwan Gatey