President Murmu pays tribute to Santali writer Pandit Raghunath Murmu on his birth anniversary | India News

NEW DELHI: President Droupadi Murmu commemorated the birth anniversary of Pandit Raghunath Murmu on Thursday, hailing his monumental contributions to the Santali community.
Taking to X, President Murmu said, “I pay my tributes to Pandit Raghunath Murmu on his birth anniversary. By developing Ol Chiki script he gave new identity to Santhali language.His contribution to the promotion of Santhali language has also enhanced opportunities for Santhali people and made them more aware of their rich cultural heritage.”
Philosopher, writer, and educator Pandit Raghunath Murmu famed as the great son of Santali Tribes in India for his contribution to the Santali community by way of developing the “Ol Chiki” script for the first time in India.
Before the nineteenth century, there was no written language in Santali, and knowledge was transmitted orally from one generation to another.
Later, European researchers and Christian missionaries started to use Bengali, Odia, and Roman scripts to document the Santali language. It was not accepted by Raghunath Murmu who created the “Ol Chiki” scrip, which enriched the cultural identity of the Santali society. He went on to pen many songs, plays, and school textbooks in this script.
Raghunath Murmu was born on Baisakhi Purnima (Buddha Purnima) in 1905 at Dandbose (Dahardih) village, Rairangpur which was a part of Mayurbhanj State in Odisha.
Nandlal Murmu and Salma Murmu were his parents. His father, Nandlal Murmu, was a village head and his paternal uncle was a Munsi in the court of King Pratap Chandra Bhanjdeo of Mayurbhanj State. As per the traditional social rituals of the Santali people, he was named Chunu Murmu after his birth. However, later the priest, who performed his naming ceremony, changed his name from Chunu Murmu to Raghunath Murmu.
During the Swadeshi movement in 1942, he was branded as a revolutionary when he was campaigning for his invented Ol Chiki script. He used to teach villagers how to read and write the Ol Chiki alphabet, during his travel to many places. He also wrote different books Parsi Poha, ParsiItun, Ranarh, Alkha, Ol Chemed, etc for learning Ol Chiki.
He went to his native village to spend the last days of his life. He traveled all his life to spreading the use of the Ol Chiki script, while his mother-in-law took care of his family and home.
In 1956, the All India Sarna Conference (People who worship nature are called Sarna) was held in Karachi near Jamshedpur. At this conference, prominent leader Jaipal Singh bestowed him with the title Guru Domke (the great teacher). He was also honoured by Mayurbhanj State Adivasi Mahasabha with the title “Guru Gomke” (the great teacher).
During this time, his brother-in-law Muniram Baskey gifted him a printing machine. He bought different metallic script typefaces (heavy-light-big-small) from Kolkata and started printing his books in the Ol Chiki script. Under his direction, the weekly magazine Saagen Saakam was printed and distributed to spread the Santali literature.
He used to say our literature cannot progress without Ol Chiki. Baba Tilka Majhi Library was also established under his guidance. He visited many Santali-dominated places in West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, and Odisha and taught people about the use of the Ol Chiki alphabet (Au-Ote-O-Aung) in phonetics through his songs.
Gradually he succeeded in convincing people about the necessity of the script. He also started a non-political organization named SECA (Social-Educational and Cultural Association) to organize meetings at different places where everyone can share their ideas. Pandit Murmu wrote more than 150 plays, short stories, novels, and poems in Ol Chiki script.
He got many awards for his path-breaking work.
Pandit Raghunath Murmu breathed his last on February 2, 1982.

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