Amrita Pritam (Punjabi: ਅਮ੍ਰਿਤਾ ਪ੍ਰੀਤਮ) is regarded as the most important female figure in the Punjabi literature of the twentieth century. A versatile talent writing Punjabi poetries, novels and essays, she is perhaps most remembered for her poignant elegy on the partition of Punjab, Aj aakhaan Waris Shah nun kiton kabraan vichchon bol. In this poem which can be called an ode to Waris Shah, the eighteenth century Punjabi poet voicing the love of Heera and Ranjhi, Amrita invokes Waris Shah from her grave and find a new page in his book of love at the contemporary context of Punjab. The most famous novel by Amrita Pritam is Pinjar (1950) [The Skeleton], remembered for the protagonist Puro epitomising a victim of existential fate and domestic violence. Following the partition of India she migrated from Lahore to Delhi, but she is equally admired both in India and Pakistan even today. The six decades long literary career of Amrita Pritam boasts over hundred books of poetries, fictions and essays. She was also one of the prominent figures attempting a collection of Punjabi folk songs. Her autobiography has been translated from the original Punjabi text into many Indian and foreign languages.
Biography of Amrita Pritam, Punjabi writer
Amrita Pritam date of birth: Amrita Pritam was born on 31st August, 1919, in Gurjanwala. The place is now in Pakistan.
Amirta Pritam first book: Amrit Lehren, or the Waves of Immortality, published in 1936.
Amrita Pritam marriage: To Pritam Singh in 1936, divorce in 1960.
Amrita Pritam was born on 31st August 1919 in Gurjanwala in the undivided Punjab of the British India. Her father Kartar Singh Hitkari was a renowned teacher cum scholar as well as a preacher of Sikhism. Her mother died in 1930, and she moved to Lahore with her father. The demise of her mother followed up Amrita with grief and adult responsibilities at an early age, which eventually turned her to writing poetry. At sixteen she was married to Pritam Singh. She began her literary career as a romantic poet, much like her contemporary Shiv Kumar Batalvi, in her early works such as the Amrit Lehren in 1936. Nevertheless, soon she found herself entangled in the feminist movements and her literary diction took a significant turn.
Following the partition of India in 1947, Amrita migrated from Lahore to Delhi. She was an employee of the All India Radio till 1961, in its Punjabi service. Meanwhile her marriage broke up in 1960 which made her an even more dedicated feminist and most of her great works followed up during this period, including the Amrita Pritam autobiography, Raseedi Tikkat (Black Rose and Revenue Stamp). Following the divorce with Pritam Singh, Amrita started living with another noted writer Sahir Ludhianvi. Sadly, this relation also didn't work out and finally Amrita found solace and peace in the company of another noted artist cum writer Imroz. She spent the last few decades of her life with Imroz and he designed most of the covers of the books of Amrita Pritam. Amrita breathed her last on 31st October 2005 in Delhi, at an age of 86, after a prolonged illness, survived by Imroz, children Navraj and Kandlla, daughter-in-law Alka, and grandchildren Noor, Taurus, Shilpi, and Aman.
Literary Career, Books & Works of Amrita Pritam
In a vast literary career with a span of more than six decades, Amrita Pritam has composed over one hundred books, including poetries, novels, essays and an autobiography. She is most remembered for her elegiac Partition saga Aj aakhaan Waris Shah nun kiton kabraan vichchon bol and her immortal feminist novel, Pinjar(1950). Amrita began writing poetry as a Romantic writer, just like two other writers of her time Mohan Singh and Shiv Kumar Batalvi. However, later she found a feminist voice among herself, which became even stronger after her divorce with Pritam Singh in 1960. Her magnum opus is Sunehray [Messages] for which she received the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1956. Another famous work of Amrita Pritam is Kagaj te Canvas [Paper and Canvas] which fetched her the Jnanpith Award in 1982. Below you can find a complete list of books by Amrutha Pritham:
Amrit Lehran (Immortal Waves)(1936), Jiunda Jiwan (The Exuberant Life) (1939), Trel Dhote Phul (1942), O Gitan Valia (1942), Badlam De Laali (1943), Sanjh de laali (1943), Lok Peera (The People's Anguish) (1944), Pathar Geetey (The Pebbles) (1946), Punjabi Di Aawaaz (1952), Sunehray (Messages) (1955), Ashoka Cheti (1957), Kasturi (1957), Nagmani (1964), Ik Si Anita (1964), Chak Nambar Chatti (1964), Uninja Din (49 Days) (1979), Kagaz Te Kanvas (1981), Chuni Huyee Kavitayen.
Kahaniyan jo Kahaniyan Nahi, Kahaniyon ke Angan mein, Stench of Kerosene
Doctor Dev, Kore Kagaz, Unchas Din, Sagar aur Seepian, Rang ka Patta, Dilli ki Galiyan, Terahwan Suraj, Yaatri
Amrita Preetam awards and honours
Amrita Pritam was the first woman writer to receive the Sahitya Akademi Award (1956) for her book Sunehray [Messages]. She was also the first receiver of the Punjab Rattan Award, awarded by the contemporary Chief Minister of Punjab Mr. Amarinder Singh. In 1969 she was honoured by Padma Shri, and later also by Padma Vibhushan, the second highest civilian award in India after Bharat Ratna. In 1982, she received India's highest literary award, Jnanpith, for Kagaj te Canvas [Paper and Canvas]. Amrita was also conferred honorary D. Litt. degrees from a number of universities including the Vishwa Bharati (1987). She had also received a number of foreign awards including the International Vaptsarov Award from the Republic of Bulgaria 1979 and the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Officier) by the French Government in 1987. At the fag end of her life, she was also recognised with an award by the Punjabi Academy of Pakistan, upon which she wistfully remarked that she was remembered by her birth place by a long time.
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