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Ray, Girijanath


Ray, Girijanath a zamindar, social worker and patron of education promotion was born in 1862. Besides the adapted son of King taroknath (1841-1865) and Queen Shyamamohini, he was the tenth heir of the Dinajpur dynasty. His childhood education began in a tutorial home located within the rayal palace (present Jubilee High School). Later he was taught in Kolkata and Rajkumar College, Bhopal in Madhya Prodesh. Girijanath Ray became the zamindar of Dinajpur as a minor under the Court of Ward. So, Shyamamohini had to look after the affairs of zamindari till 1883, when the son Girijanath Ray attained adulthood.

Girijanath Ray upgraded the tutorial of the Rayal Palace as a Middle Vernacular School in 1887 and on the occasion of the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria the school got a new name 'Jubilee School'. Later, it was again upgraded to a Middle English School. He founded the Maharaja Girijanath School at Balubari mouja of Dinajpur town in 1913. He also donated 3.3 acres of land to construct the building of Rayganj High School, West Dinajpur (now in West Bengal, India). He also gave an endowment to build up the Hindu students Hostel of Dinajpur Zilla School in 1912.

Girijanath Ray was conferred the 'Maharaja Bahadur' title as a reward for supporting the role of British government during the partition of Bengal movement in 1905. He was given an entitlement for having an armed contingent of 100 soldiers with him. Being a loyal zamindar he donated huge amount of money for the constriction of British monuments in India. For example, he gave Rs. 25,000 for Victoria Memorial of Kolkata and Rs. 10,000 for the memorial of king Edward the Seventh. He also donated Rs. 75,000 for the constriction of a sewerage canal in Dinajpur town named Girija canal and Rs. 30,000 for the re-excavation of Ghaghora canal.

Maharaja Girijanath Ray was associated with many organizations and associations including the British Indian association, the Bengal Land Holders Association, the Bengal Music Society, the Bengal Literature Council, the Rangpur Literature Council and the North Bengal Literature Conference. He was elected the President of All India kayastha (a Hindu caste) society in 1919. Earlier in 1912, he was the president of the Reception Committee of Kayastha Society's Conference, held in Kolkata. He also presided over the Alahabad conference of the society in 1914. He was President, Reception Committee of the 6th session of the North Bengal Literature Conference held in Dinajpur in 1913. Leading literatures and historians of Bengal and Assam took part in that meet. Girijanath Ray was a patron of many socio-cultural bodies including Diamond Jubilee theater Company (1885), Dinajpur Drama Society (1913), Dinajpur Sporting Club, 'Arjo Pathagar' (public library) and Dinajpur Assoication.

Girijanath Ray was a member of the district board for three terms, honourary magistrate for two terms and a member, the Delhi Council of Governor General. He was nominated as a commissioner of Dinajpur Municipality in 1884 and was elected the chairman for three different terms. Moreover, he was the first elected chairman of Dinajpur Zila Board. [Muhammad Moniruzzaman]