Gobindapur (Baksa), Jan. 31: The 72nd edition of one of the country's biggest literary events ' the biennial session of Asam Sahitya Sabha ' began at the Biswaratna Dr Bhupen Hazarika Samannay Khetra here today.
People from across the Northeast have started arriving at the venue ' a 275-bigha plot near the India-Bhutan border that is just 20km from Manas National Park, 4km from Barpeta Road in Barpeta district and 130km from Guwahati. The main pandal, with capacity to seat 10,000 people, has been named after Rupknowar Jyoti Prasad Agarwala.
"We are expecting around 20 lakh visitors during the five days of the session. But the panchayat elections may reduce that number," an organiser said today.
Several distinguished litterateurs, artistes, journalists and delegates from across the country are also expected.
The Sabha today annou-nced that Lubana Marium, a dancer from Bangladesh, would be the first recipient of the Dr Bhupen Hazarika Integrity Award, which has been instituted by the literary body to honour achievers in the field of creative arts every two years. Former president of Asom Satra Mahasabha, Bhadrakrishna Goswami, inaugurated a temporary naamghar at the venue.
The Sabha also named poet Geetali Barua of Bilasipara as the recipient the prestigious Kalaguru Bishnu Rabha Award for her collection of poems, Samabritya. The award will be presented at the session venue on February 4.
An executive meeting held this evening also decided that the Sabha's 2015 session would be held at Kaliabor in Nagaon district.
The reception committee, headed by its president G.L. Agarwalla, hoped that with participation of every ethnic community, the session would spread the mantra of unity across the Northeast.
The committee has drawn up a budget of Rs 2.5 crore for this session, the main attractions of which will be the open session, seminars on literature, history and culture, poets' meets, cultural programmes, a book fair and a trade fair. A colourful cultural procession is on the schedule on February 3 in which around 25,000 people from various communities and organisations will participate.
At 9am tomorrow, the Sabha's outgoing president, Rong Bong Terang, will hoist its flag at the venue, where various communities of the region will also hoist 72 flags of the apex literary body.
At 10.30am, state agriculture minister Nilamoni Sen Deka will inaugurate the Mamoni Raisom Goswami book fair and at noon, Meghalaya governor R.S. Mooshahary will inaugurate the Asom Sahitya Utsab, a symposium on "The Rivers in Assam and its Culture".
Novelist and short story writer Imran Shah will take charge as the president of the Sabha from Terang at the end of the session.
Yesterday, state transport minister Chandan Brahma inaugurated a trade fair with participants from different parts of India and some neighbouring countries. He said BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary had assured all possible help to make the session a success.