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Gairika


Gairika the first periodical of the Chittagong Hill Tracts (presently three hill districts of Rangamati, Bandarban and Khagrachhari). It was published from the chakma palace at Rangamati at the initiative of Chakma queen (later queen mother) Binita Roy. As there was no printing press at Rangamati, it was not easy to bring out a journal. The number of writers was also few. Binita Roy's father Barrister Saralchandra Sen (son of Keshabchandra Sen, preacher of Brahmo religion) was a friend of poet rabindranath tagore. Following that connection, Binita Roy wrote a letter to the poet asking him to suggest a name for the journal. Tagore suggested the name Gairika. Its first issue was published in April-May 1936 (Baishakh 1343 BS). Its main attraction was the colourful cover painted by Chunilal Dewan. In the first year two issues of Gairika were published. It was edited by Probhat Kumar Dewan. From the second year it was published annually under the editorship of poet Arun Roy. On the front page Binita Roy's name as director was printed alongside the name of the editor. The last issue of Gairika was published in 1358 BS soon after the death of Raja Nalinakkha Roy on 7 October 1951. At least fourteen issues of the journal were published during the 16 years (1343-1358 BS). The Gairika mainly published the contributions of local writers. Many writers gained experience by contributing to the journal. For the first time a group of litterateurs grew at Rangamati centering around the journal. The twelfth issue in the eleventh year carried the first Chakma poem by Chunilal Dewan using Bengali alphabets. Alongside was printed a Bengali translation of it by Binita Roy. The next issue carried Mukund Talukdar's Chakma poem 'Puran Koda' alongside its Bengali translation by Salil Roy. Gairika had been printed at Chittagong Printing and Publishing House Limited, Lakshi Narayan Press and Chattagram Probartak Press and finally at Modern Press. Initially, the price per copy was six annas. Later on, the price was raised to eight annas or half a rupee. Gairika used to publish articles on religion, philosophy, history, literature, society and arts as well as travelogues, poems, short stories and novels. Among its writers were Binita Roy, Probhat kumar Dewan, Arun Roy, Bankim krishna Dewan, Kumar Kokonadakkha Roy, Ghonoshyam Dewan, Vogobanchandra Burman, Kumar Birupakkha Roy, Gopalchandra Gurkha, Madhabchandra Chakma Kormi, Bipuleswar Dewan, Saratchandra Talukdar, Jogeshchandra Singha and Rajendranath Talukdar. In its fifth issue in the fourth year it published an address by Rabindranath Tagore entitled 'Mahajati Sadan' (home of a great nation). Gairika also carried poems, short stories and articles in English.

Although a literary journal basically, The Gairika also carried news at times. The first issue carried under 'contemporary events' five local news items and one international news item. From its second issue it carried summary of international news under the title of 'world events'. From its fourth issue it carried world events, Hill Tracts news and a new column entitled 'Indian events'. From its sixth issue it closed its columns on world events and Indian events. From its ninth issue it also closed its column on Hill Tracts. [Nandalal Sharma]