Braille version of Assamese dictionary ‘Hemkosh’ formally presented to PM Modi in New Delhi

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South-East Asia's first Braille dictionary is an Assamese dictionary, ‘Hemkosh’ which was also the first Assamese dictionary, edited by Hemchandra Baruah in the 19th century
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Guwahati: After more than 125 years, Braille version of ‘Hemkosh’ has been conceptualized and published by the Editor of Asomiya Pratidin, Jayanta Baruah, and was formally presented to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the national capital on Wednesday by Jayanta Baruah.

Notably, South-East Asia’s first Braille dictionary is an Assamese dictionary, ‘Hemkosh’ which was also the first Assamese dictionary, edited by Hemchandra Baruah in the 19th century.

Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, and Union Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal were also present during the occasion.

About ‘Hemkosh’: The first Assamese language dictionary, ‘Hemkosh’, was compiled by Late Hemchandra Baruah in the last part of the 19th century, and was published four years later after his demise. The subsequent editions, of the dictionary were published by the next generations of his family, particularly from fourth edition to 14th edition, was compiled and edited by Late Debananda Baruah. 15th edition of ‘Hemkosh’ Dictionary has been complied under the leadership of Jayanta Baruah, and is under production.

About ‘Hemkosh’ Braille Version: Shri Jayanta Baruah, in a bid to continue the ‘HEMKOSH’ legacy, as the grandson of Late Hemchandra Baruah, conceptualized, and published the Braille edition of ‘Hemkosh’. This edition of ‘Hemkosh’ comprises of approximately 10,000 pages comprising more than 15 volumes. The first phase of this edition comprises of chapters on “Swarabarna”, published in five volumes, and is ready for distribution. The later phases (Vyanjanbarna) are also under the process of publication. This is an inauguration of the noble journey of publishing the entire Assamese dictionary in Braille.

Notably, this Braille version of Hemkosh would be the first full language dictionary in Braille, after Oxford.

Meanwhile, Jayanta Baruah has also pledged to donate (free of cost), the dictionary copies to all the educational institutions for the visually impaired students, universities, state and central libraries, as well as the national library.

It should be mentioned that ‘Hemkosh’ is the first etymological dictionary of the Assamese language and is bilingual in nature, thus children can benefit in both English and Assamese languages from the dictionary”.

Earlier, on Friday, 16 September, 2022, Governor of Assam, Professor Jagdish Mukhi also released the Braille version of Hemkosh in presence of several academicians, educationists and prominent personalities including VC Mridul Hazarika of Srimanta Shankardev University and Assam Sahitya Sabha President Kuladhar Saikia.

The special guest of the program was Pandit Bhartendu Pandey, professor of Department of Sanskrit, Delhi University. A visually impaired person himself, Mr. Pandey said that this release is a celebration for the people who gained their vision back through Braille and was fortunate to be a part of it.

He said, “Hemkosh’s Braille version has given vision and light to the visually challenged people and thanked Jayanta Baruah for his immense contribution for their welfare. This endeavor will increase the parameter of Hemkosh as from today onwards; the visually challenged people can also enjoy its benefits. I congratulate the entire team for this worthy cause,”

He further said in the book release ceremony, Hon’ble Governor of Assam also launched the free distribution program of ‘Braille Hemkosh’.

He handed over the inaugural chapter with five volumes to the Principal of Govt. Blind School, Basistha, Assam.

Jayanta Baruah, in his inaugural speech, said that the publication of the Braille version of ‘Hemkosh’ is one of his noble dreams for the welfare of language, literary field, literature, culture and the society as a whole, and hoped that the dictionary will be helpful for all visually impaired children.

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