Gujarati Dalit Literature

Muse India has a special 2nd anniversary issue (Jan- Feb 07) with a focus on Gujarati Dalit literature. An excerpt from the overview by Vankar G.K.

It is difficult to say when first Gujarati Dalit writing came into existence. But undoubtedly the publication of Aakrosh, a poetry journal of Dalit Panthers, on 14th April, 1978, was an important milestone. The anti-reservation agitations in Gujarat in 1981 and 1985 generated intense awareness about dalit rights and led to a surge of creative output of dalit literature. Within almost three decades Dalit literature in Gujarati has established itself firmly as a genre which cannot be ignored.

…Usually Dalit poetry is not written in meters; the most important conditions are authentic experience, commitment to dalit fraternity and social justice, vehement opposition of decayed social order and oppression in name of religion.

A poem from the selection:

The stink of the Hellpit by Jayant Parmar (trans by Vankar V.G.)

The stink of the hellpit
Dogs me
to my school
Below the sun umbrella
It would descend
Barefooted
In the hellpit.

She would
Wet
The animal skin
In salt and water
And cleanse it with her dead feet
As a reward
She would bring
For me
A piece of meat.

Even today
When I shine my shoes
With cherry blossom
In its shining
I see my mother’s face.

The stink of hellpit
Dogs me
to my office.

Related post: Tamil Dalit Literature

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