‘The Sammelan is to remind ourselves that life is not as bland as we think it to be'

What is the essence of the Vishwa Kannada Sammelan? As Belgaum city prepares to host the three-day cultural festival from Friday, there is a need to reflect on the need for such an event and its possible outcomes.

“I think it is to celebrate Kannadatana, or Kannadatva, or all that is associated with being a Kannadiga,'' says Chiranjeev Singh, retired additional chief secretary, who is considered the architect of the first Vishwa Kannada Sammelan in Mysore in 1985. “Just like there is something called Indianness or Panjabiyat, there is Kannadatana. It is a wonderful bundle of history, cultural heritage, art, literature, music and socio-economic progress. It is a mixture of emotion and understanding about our identity. It expands my understanding of the meaning of the Kannada-speaking world, which is not limited by geographical boundaries or time,” Mr. Singh said.

Event of fun

Acclaimed film director Girish Kasaravalli calls it an event of fun and joy. “Holding such an event should definitely contribute to shaping our identity as a linguistic and cultural group. The feeling that we are all one will be strengthened. I don't expect anything creative to come out of it. But then, I surely regard it as a celebration for all those whose lives are touched by the language or culture of this State. It should lead to harmony and love among all of us,” Mr. Kasaravalli said.

Full of joy

The Sammelan is to remind ourselves that life is not as bland as we think it to be, says national award winning sculptor Manayya Badiger. “Life is full of joy and colour. We need to pause and celebrate life. The Sammelan will help us in this,” he said.

Theatre and cine personality Mandya Ramesh feels the Sammelan will help foster a common identity of the people who reside in the State and those who stay outside, but are connected to Kannada in some way.

“In these days of changing culture and language, we need a wholesome cultural identity. The Sammelan will help in this. Organising the Sammelan in Belgaum is all the more important as it makes people in the border areas feel that they belong to the mainstream,” he said.

“I am happy that the government is organising a Vishwa Kannada Sammelan. But I would be happier if the government spent as much money and energy on issues faced by people in neglected border taluks affected by poverty, illiteracy and lack of development,” says pro-Kannada agitator Shivasharnappa Wali.

No expectations

However, there are some who don't expect much from the Sammelan. Rangayana director and linguist Lingadevaru Halemane said that he does not expect a positive impact from the event.

“I think it will provide a platform for exhibiting the achievements of the government. People will objectively assess the strengths and weaknesses of the government. Intellectuals may discuss about the challenges before Kannada and suggest possible solutions. But I don't believe the government will do anything concrete to implement the recommendations,” he said.

‘No need for the Sammelan'

“I don't think there is any need for such a Sammelan. Its not just me, there are several tribals, poor farmers and labourers who don't see the need,” says writer Abdul Rasheed.

He was among the 70 arrested for protesting against the first Vishwa Kannada Sammelan in Mysore in 1985.

“If you ask me whether we need a Sammelan for the survival of Kannada, I will say no. This was my answer 25 years ago and it has not changed now,” he said.

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