New Delhi, Aug. 31: Today’s Doodle celebrates Amrita Pritam, one of history’s foremost female Punjabi writers, who “dared to live the life she imagines.”
Born in Gujranwala, British India, 100 years ago today, Pritam published her first collection of verse at age 16. She is most remembered for “Ajj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu,” her poem lamenting the traumatic 1947 partition of India and Pakistan.
Throughout a six-decade career, Pritam received many prestigious awards including the Bharatiya Jnanpith literary award in 1981 and one of India’s highest civilian awards, the Padma Vibushan, in 2005. That same year a French translation of her novel, The Skeleton, was awarded the La Route des Indes Literary Prize.
The work’s title translates as “I Call upon Waris Shah Today,” referring to the 18th-century Sufi poet Waris Shah.
Widely considered the greatest 20th-century Punjabi poet, Pritam also published 28 novels including Pinjar, a dramatic tale set during the time of partition which was adapted into a movie.
Her autobiography Kala Gulab (Black Rose), referenced in the Doodle art, revealed many details of her personal life, allowing other women to speak more openly about their experiences with love and marriage.
Known for her mastery of the Punjabi language, Pritam lived in Pakistan after the partition, but also wrote many works in Hindi and Urdu, as her work was admired on both sides of the border.
Pritam also worked for All-India Radio and edited the literary journal Nagmani. In 1986, she was nominated to Rajya Sabha, the Indian parliament.