Prerna Awards bringing Indian languages closer to the diaspora

India is a land of multiple languages, cultures and faiths and takes pride in unity and diversity. Singapore boasts of multiculturalism and the concepts of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality are enshrined as stars in the Singapore national flag. To bring both the countries together through the bridge of language, Singapore Language Organisation is doing yeoman’s service for promotion of this cause.

HE Jawed Ashraf, High Commissioner of India to Singapore and Mamta Mandal,Founder of Singapore Language Organisation along with the participants at the Prerna Awards-2017 ceremony. Photo courtesy: Singapore Language Organisation
HE Jawed Ashraf, High Commissioner of India to Singapore, Mamta Mandal, Founder of Singapore Language Organisation along with the participants at the Prerna Awards-2017 ceremony. Photo courtesy: Singapore Language Organisation

In this connection, for promoting Hindi and other vernacular languages of India in the island of Singapore, Prerna Awards and Singapore Language Organisation are jointly organising a storytelling competition. The theme of the competition this year is ‘Folk tales retold in modern times’.

The competition is being organised in four languages-Hindi, Tamil, Bangla and Gujarati. There are three groups in the competition- Children (8-12 years), Youth (13-17 years) and Adults (18 and above) in which participants can showcase their talent.

Participants have to submit a story based on the theme of 'Folk tales retold in modern times'. Stories presented can be adapted from folk tales of any region or language or country and presented in the language selected for the competition and can be done as prose or poetry.

The registration for participating in the competition is January 31 while participants can send their entries till February 4. The semi finals and finals of the competition will take place on February 10 and 11. The final Prerna awards ceremony will be organised on February 24 where the winners will be given awards.

The main purpose of organising this programme is to create an international platform to connect the world with the rich indigenous languages and literature in an engaging manner with national and international level events and competitions.

Mamta Mandal, Founder of Singapore Language Organisation, started Prerna awards three years back to connect Indians in Singapore to Hindi and other vernacular languages of India, including Tamil, Bangla, Gujrati, Urdu and other languages. In an exclusive chat with Connected to India, Mamta relates the interesting journey of Prerna awards and the success for promotion of vernacular Indian languages in Singapore.

CtoI: How many years have you been doing the awards?

Mamta Mandal: It is the third Prerna Awards in 2018. It started with spreading love and awareness for Hindi in Singapore and the region.

CtoI: What motivates you?

Mamta Mandal: It is the love for the rich cultural heritage and the concern that the love and respect for Hindi and other mother tongue is diminishing day by day in the society. It is considered unprogressive to use your own mother tongue even at a social gathering of Indian Diaspora. 

Mamta Mandal, Founder of Singapore Language Organisation (eighth from left) along with members of Indian diaspora who were present during the Prerna Awards-2017. Photo courtesy: Singapore Language Organisation
Mamta Mandal, Founder of Singapore Language Organisation (eighth from left) along with members of Indian diaspora who were present during the Prerna Awards-2017. Photo courtesy: Singapore Language Organisation

CtoI: We notice that you have added more languages to this year's competition. Why?

Mamta Mandal: Gujarati and Bengali are the two Indian communities who have been somewhat successful in maintaining their literary and linguistic heritage and have a lot of respect and pride in their own language. That’s why, I was inspired to showcase the same to the Diaspora and inspire them.

CtoI: Tell us about how the acceptance for the competition has increased over the years.

Mamta Mandal: It really is a joy to see most of the participants return again and again as well as the tremendous support from the community groups who approach us to do something for their languages like Telugu, Kannada and Punjabi in anyway we can. So, we chose a theme like Folk tales which can be based on their folk tale from any region even though the participant might be competing in Hindi.

A panel discussion taking place during the Prerna Awards-2017 ceremony organised at Singapore. Photo courtesy: Singapore Language Organisation
A panel discussion taking place during the Prerna Awards-2017 ceremony organised at Singapore. Photo courtesy: Singapore Language Organisation

CtoI: What are the key highlights for this year?

Mamta Mandal: We are trying to spark creativity and imagination along with appreciation of our own heritage in a community based engagement and also to mark International Mother Languages day with Indian languages.

CtoI: Is there anything you would like to add?

Mamta Mandal: There is a lot to be done and we need more such platforms where common Indian who writes and speaks the language can come & share their passion .

It also requires a lot of media support to project HEP Hindi Enriched Personalities (HEP) individuals amongst the wider audience and to garner more support from the academicians, professionals, thought leaders to come forward to promote and support this Prerna (inspiration) movement to be the change and take pride in speaking own languages like Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj do.

Author
Ashraf Jamal
Ashraf Jamal – Senior Writer

Ashraf Jamal brings a rare depth to writing equipped with a degree in journalism, a postgraduate degree in political science, and a degree in law from the Allahabad University. His experience includes editing and publishing the Northern India Patrika and writing for Times of India for almost a decade covering just about any topic under the sun including NRIs and Indian diaspora.

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