Tribute to Living Legend Lakshahira Das as she turns 88
Lakshahira Das – a name which needs no introduction. There would hardly be anyone in Assam who would not be besotted with her personality, her brilliant art creation and her melodious renderings. Apt is the name of this multi-talented artist whose body of work can be compared to none.
Lakshahira Das was born to Late Lalit Chandra Vaishya Saud and Late Dhairjya Bala Vaishya Saud on February 13, 1931, in Sualkuchi.
She passed her matriculation examination from Jorhat Government Girls’ High School in 1946 and intermediate examination in Arts stream in 1948 from JB College, Jorhat. She pursued her graduation in 1950 from Cotton College, wherein she secured the highest marks in Assamese and Education, and claimed 2nd position in her Masters Examination in 1954. She was awarded PhD by Gauhati University in 1972. Dr Das represented the state in several academic seminars and conferences held in and outside India and visited England, France, Malaysia, Singapore, Kenya, Bangkok to present her research papers.
Lakshahira Das worked as the first professor and the head of the newly founded Department of Education in Cotton College from 1957 to 1977. She authored 14 books in both English and Assamese language for the students of her department. As many as 14 students have secured PhD under her guidance.
She has authored 50 books so far which includes poems, short stories, children’s literature, translations and education.
She was six when she composed and published her first poem in a school magazine. Her first collection of lyrics was published while she was a student of Cotton College in 1950. Her poems have been included in several anthologies like ‘Modern Assamese Poetry’ edited by Hem Barua, ‘New Voices of Indian Poetry’ edited by Rajendra Awasthi and others (Authors Guild of India, New Delhi, 1984), ‘Assamese Poetry’ collected and published by the Directorate of Information & Public Relations, Assam, 1980, ‘Anthology of Assamese Poems’ published by the Publication Board, Assam in the souvenir volume of the Northeast India Poetry Meet. Her collection of English poems entitled ‘Between Births’ was released in Malaysia in a World Conference held at Kuala Lumpur in 1991. She was nominated for the Sahitya Akademi, New Delhi, as a member of the General Council and Member, Assamese Language Advisory Board for 5 years (2003-2007).
She was mentored by none other than the Bard of Brahmaputra, Dr Bhupen Hazarika. She considers him an institution in himself in the history of Assamese music. She is elated that Dr Bhupen Hazarika has been conferred with the prestigious Bharat Ratna, but says that the move is a politically motivated one. “He should have been bestowed the honour long back, but better late than never. I am happy that he has been given this honour. But we cannot overlook the fact that there is a political agendum behind this,” she said.
Dr Das is the only female artist of Assam to receive approval of All India Radio as lyricist, composer and singer in 1948 while she was pursuing her studies at Cotton College. She has been writing lyrics for various singers since 1948 till date. She has composed nearly 2,000 songs in the past 60 years, and has also rendered her voice to the LP Records and cassettes of Ambikagiri Ray Choudhury, Umesh Chandra Choudhury and Nalini Bala Devi. As many as 22 of her compositions have been recorded by the Gramophone Company of India (HMV), which included different borgeet, lokageet, traditional songs and adhunik geet alike. She expresses disappointment that music in the present time lacks sense and even the lyrics fail to evoke any emotion among the masses. She however enjoys listening to songs of Anindita Paul among the singers of the current generation.
She believes that in this time when the entire state is disturbed, music can be a very strong binding factor. She also insists that the youth of the state come out and compose revolutionary music such as those of Jyoti Prasad Agarwala or Bishnu Rabha. Music can be the bridge between the people, she says.
The versatile, multi-faceted singer, poet, lyricist, writer, and academician of Assam has turned 88 this week. Her contribution towards Assam can never be forgotten. While she continues to shine with her excellence, let’s pay a tribute to this living legend for the glory she has brought to the state and the northeast region.
Dr Lakshahira Das has contributed to social service with her association as life member, president etc at various organizations like:
• Sahitya Akademy, New Delhi
• The Authors Guild of India, New Delhi
• The Indian PEN
• The Poetry Society of India
• All India Adult Education Association, New Delhi
• The Indian Association of Community Education
• Research and Innovation Committee NCERT, New Delhi
• Asom sahitya Sabha
• Assam Academy of Cultural Relation, Assam
• Radio Artists Association
• Eastern India Women’s Association
Awards and titles:
• Special award from Sadou Asom Bolchabi Santha as “The Best Playback singer of Assamese Film” in 1968
• Special prize as the playback singer of Assamese film in the Golden Jubilee celebration of Assamese films held in 1985
• Basanti Bordoloi Award for the Best Woman Writer of Assam by Asam Sahitya Sabha in 1995
• Conferred the title of ‘Sangeetacharya’ by Jitendra Sangeet Mahavidyalay in 1995
• Best Lyricist award of northeast India by Kala Sangam in 1997
• Received ‘Silipi Puraskar’ from Government of Assam in 2003
• Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005 from the RG Baruah Sports and Cultural Club
• Conferred Pragya Shree Award and title from the Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samiti in 2009
• “Prabina Saikia Bota” in literature and culture in 2010 by Asom Lekhika Santha in 2010
• “Amol Prova Das Bota” by the Assam Govt in 2011
• “Nizara Kobi Sailadhar Rajkhowa Award” from Asom Sahitya Sabha in 2011
• “Chatak Sanman” in 2012 by Chatak Gosthi of Assam
• Received Award of Excellence from the University of Science and Technology Meghalaya in 2014
• “Gana Silpi Bota” founded in the name of Dr Bhuepn Hazarika in 2015 by Sadou Asom Unnayan Parishad
• “Nalinibala Devi Sahitya Bota” by Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samiti in 2015
• Conferred the title of “Kavyacharya” in 2016 by the Asom Kabita Academy
• Lifetime Achievement Award from Gup-Shup Radio in 2017
• “Prag Prerana Award” in 2017 from Prag News Channel
• “Asom Srestha” award received from the Telegraph Group of News Papers in 2018
• Distinguished Recognition Award for outstanding contribution to art, music and culture from Assam Agriculture University, Jorhat in 2018