The Birth of Several Literary Magazines

PAHLAD RAMSURRUN

The main theme of the Hindi Magazines and periodicals until the 1960’s was socio-religious and politico-cultural, but the focus was not on purely literary papers. By that time, the Hindi Language in Mauritius had attained a good status and it had become a powerful vehicle of literary expressions in this country. As such, a few protagonists of Hindi believed that it was time to venture in publishing purely literary magazines and journals. Here, it is not out of place to remind the readers that such a brief experiment had already been made by the Hindi Pracharini Sabha by publishing the hand written monthly ‘Durga’ in 1936. But as it was a hand written monthly, it could not benefit from a wide readership in Mauritius.

 

Hence, it was high time to publish a literary paper. It was started under the supervision of Suraj Parsad Mungur Bhagat. A fortnightly paper in pure Hindi ‘Nav Jeevan’ (New Life) saw the light of day on October 2, 1960. Its editors were S.M. Bhagat and Bickramsingh Ramlallah, the editor of ‘Mauritius Times’. It was a purely literary paper, and published the poems and prose compositions of several budding authors. After serving the Hindi world for four years, it ceased appearing as from July 13, 1964. It was in July 1960, that Pandit Dawlat Sharma of Plaine des Papayes, had started a literary journal, but it ceased appearing only after a few issues.

In the meantime, another young Hindi enthusiast, Drujendra Napal had dashed himself into an adventure and founded a socio-political Hindi newspaper, ‘Samajvad’ (socialism). Its editor was the exceptional Vedic preacher, Pandit Benimadhoo Suteeram. It also published literary articles in pure Hindi. However, it ceased appearing after the defeat of its initiator in the general elections of 1961.

The newly founded political party, the All Mauritius Hindu Congress started another Hindi newspaper, ‘Congress’ as from November 19, 1964. It was a purely political paper, but it also had literary features in abundance. Its editors were Premchand Dabee for the English section and Pandit Soondar-Parsad Sharma for the Hindi section. It appeared from 1964 till 1967. It stopped appearing after the crushing defeat of all its members in the general elections of 1967.

The Hindi Lekhak Sangh (Hindi Writers Association) started a children journal in 1965. Its editor was Balkumund Gupta. It ceased appearing only after a few issues. Another short-lived Hindi Paper was the ‘Dharmic Sewa Sivir’ (Religious Service Camp) published under the guidance of Swami Krishnanandji in 1968. It stopped appearing a year later. Apart from these papers ‘Aryodaye’ and ‘Janata’ were also giving their columns to emerging writers for publishing their literary works.

At last in 1964, came a purely Hindi literary magazine ‘Anuraag’ (love) that was started by the central committee of the ‘Hindi Parishad’ of Port Louis, under the supervision of Somduth Bhuckory. It was a Hindi quarterly edited by Somduth Bhuckory. It started publishing short stories, poems, plays, essays, literary criticisms and articles on topical features. It became the platform of writers showing signs of promise and their contributions were enormous to the growth of the local Hindi literature. It’s a fact that this literary magazine was to pave the way for a rich literary harvest in post-Independence years. Young Hindi writers, like Moonishwurlall Chintamunee, Abhimanyu Unnuth (1937-2018), the author and others were to evolve in the columns of ‘Anuraag’ in pre- and post-Independence years. By 1977, due to lack of fund it ceased appearing.

Hindi literary papers in post-Independent years 

The growth and development of Hindi Journalism in the nineteen-seventies was a formidable phenomenon. It may be asked, was it the new social order established after the Independence of the country, or was it the positive outcome of the implantation of industrial zones in the country that had resulted in an unprecedented economic growth or still, was it the sense of freedom of thought that had accounted for the outburst of an unprecedented literary enthusiasm among the Mauritians of Indian origin? Whatever may be the answer, the seventies of the 20th century saw the birth and growth of half a dozen of literary magazines in Hindi language, and the overall outcome was the hosting of the “Second World Conference” in Mauritius in 1976.

Coming of Hamara Desh, Abha, Darpan and Prabhat

At the initiative of Vishnuduth Madhoo, who ran a Hindi press of the same name at Triolet village, a Hindi weekly ‘Hamara Desh’ was started as from 1971. It published topical articles, plays, stories, poems and literary features etc. It ceased appearing in 1974. Another group of Hindi enthusiasts, founded the ‘Rang Kala Mandir’ in the same village, and a literary magazine ‘Abha’ (the Ray) was started as from 1971. It was a quarterly journal, dedicated to literature only. It went on publishing under the supervision of Mahesh Ramjeeawon until 1974. Another Hindi enthusiast, Chabilal Beedessy, the president of the “Hindi Adhyapak Sangh” of the same village, edited another Hindi quarterly ‘Darpan’ (The mirror) as from 1973. It went on appearing until 1975.

Similarly, the “Hindi Uthan Sangh” (Hindi Progressive Association) of Petit Raffray published a yearly Hindi journal ‘Prabhat’ as from 1976. Its editor was Chandradeo Jodhun. It was discontinued in 1979. The students of the Teachers Training College edited a Hindi Literary magazine from Beau Bassin under the guidance of Professor Ram Prakash. Its name was ‘Prakash’ (Light). It saw the light of day as from 1972 and went on appearing until 1976. The late Hon. Kher Jagatsingh published a literary journal entitled ‘Triveni’ as from 1974 under the aegis of the Triveni Circle.  The Ministry of Information within the Ministry of Information edited a Hindi quarterly ‘Parivartan’ (The Change) as from 1977. It ceased appearing in 1979. The Mahatma Gandhi Institute was opened as from 1975, and its Hindi organ ‘Vasant’ (the Spring) was started as from 1977. Abhimanyu Unnuth was made its first editor. It is still appearing and is the longest literary journal in Mauritius.

The ‘Janata’ weekly, which was edited by Pandit Luxmi Parsad Badry as from 1953, was enhanced in October 1974, when Rajendra Arun was appointed its editor. Rajendra Arun was a reputed journalist from India and his presence in Mauritius had given a significant dimension to the Hindi Journalism in this country. The Arya Sabha Mauritius had also renovated its organ, the ‘ Aryodaye’ as from the 1970’s. It has also started publishing special issues in book form on special occasions. The youth wing of the Arya Sabha, under the guidance of Prof. Soodursun Jugessur had started publishing the ‘Vedic Journal’ as from 1977. It was a bilingual journal in English and Hindi. It ceased appearing in 1979. Moreover, the late Hon. Dayanundlall Basant Rai, under the aegis of Hindu Maha Sabha, had started the publication of special issues of ‘Shivratri’, a religious magazine as from 1972. It ceased appearing in 1984 after the death of its promoter.              

Hindi Papers and Journals in the 1980’s

Hindi journalism was to experience a formidable setback after the defeat of Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam in the general elections of 1982. Dr. Seewoosagur Ramgoolam had been a member of the Legislative Assembly for 42 years, and Prime Minister of Mauritius for 14 years. He had got support from ‘Advance’ and  ‘Janata’ throughout his political career. ‘Janata’ ceased appearing after the general elections of 1982 after 34 years. Similarly, Hindi Journalism had its first setback after the general elections of 1976, when Sookdeo Bissoondoyal was defeated and a few weeks later, ‘ Zamana’ ceased appearing. Sookdeo Bissoondoyal was a member of the Legislative Assembly for 38 years, and had emerged as a powerful opposition leader. He was the co-founder with Basdeo Bissoondoyal of ‘Zamana’ in 1948.

Apart from ‘Aryodaye’, ‘Vasant’ , and ‘Shivratri’, there were no Hindi papers and Journals from 1982 to 1987, when the Human Service Trust filled the vacuum in the early years of the eighties by starting a full-fledged Hindi weekly “Swadesh” (the Country), under the initiative of late Dhundev Bahadoor. It was a paper of 12 pages. Late Ajamil Matabadal and Raj Heeramun were the co-editors of ‘Swadesh’. It went on appearing till 1991, when financial constraints caused its cessation. Suresh Ramburn had founded another Hindi weekly under the aegis of Sanatan Dharma Temple Federation. Its name was ‘Darpan’ (The Mirror). It appeared from 1989 to 1990.

TO BE CONTINUED