Endowed in perpetuity by the Glenna Luschei Fund for Excellence

Enajori.com Promotes Language, Literature, and the Heritage of Assam

By Nabina Das
Himjyoti Talukdar

Good things are bound to happen on birthdays. Enajori.com, the first online, bilingual, unicoded magazine from Assam devoted to Assamese literature, art, and culture, launched on March 13, 2010. March 13 is my birthday. Over the last few years, I have read Enajori.com posts on and off. The frequency of posts and topics seemed to grow quickly. That is what got me interested in the e-zine. How does a primarily vernacular website carve out a niche, which it did rather quickly? The answer came in deep, satisfying layers.

After the publication of the Harry Potter series the world changed drastically: these days, many adults read children’s literature! Enajori.com is the very first to publish, in Assamese script, the seminal collection of folk tales Burhi Aair Sadhu, penned by one of Asssam’s literary stalwarts, Lakshminath Bezbaruah. Some of the stories were part of my middle school curriculum, where I was only concerned with them because I had to score well in exams by correctly answering questions based on these stories. I enjoyed reading them more on Enajori.com! These days, there are web versions of this popular collection on other websites, such as Assamese Wikipedia.

“Enajori” in Assamese means an invisible close link or bond of affection, love, and care. This is exactly what editor Himjyoti Talukdar aimed for when he set up Enajori.com.

“Through Enajori.com we want to make an online bond among different Assamese [people] scattered around the globe,” said Talukdar. “Hence, it was a meaningful word for us, as well as a user-friendly domain name that is easily found through a Google search.”

Last year I spent hours searching for Assamese folk songs and proverbs for a particular write-up. Despite my best efforts, I could not access a single coherent thing close to what I was looking for online. For Assamese poetry, Google will repeatedly throw up the site Kobita, but after looking at this site a dozen times in the last year, I can safely say no fresh updates enticed me. Enajori.com is a clean, smart-looking website with frequent updates.

So how do Talukdar and his web team ensure there are enough readers to keep this niche website going, especially when English language lit zines are coming up fast and furious in Indian cyberspace?

“We have our own statistical application,” he said. “We registered Enajori.com in Google analytics, which tells us about web traffic. Web traffic can also be figured through our Facebook page (with more than 5,000 fans) and emails, too.”

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We were a literary household in a laid back way. Associating with poets and writers through my father was normal during my childhood in Guwahati, Assam. In his youth he was a Communist Party member, enthused by the idea of one world and one humankind, all the while working part-time with folks who were poets, writers, and activists. Even as he settled down with a family later on, among those friends of his was an emerging songwriter who acquainted us with the doyenne of Assamese poetry, Nirmalprabha Bordoloi. She was editing a little magazine in Assamese at that time and selecting the poems, my submission being one of them. Imagine the flutter of a teenage poet’s heart when she sent words about my writing. If I remember correctly, Bordoloi’s comment was regarding a line from my verse that read somewhat like this: “the sky a copper sheet.” That tryst with Nirmalprabha Boordoloi became more meaningful when I went through her works showcased on Enajori.com. The doyenne's work was available with the click of a mouse from anywhere in the world.

A few years later, I was a student of Navakanta Baruah for a short duration in Cotton College, Guwahati. My ardor for his political and lyrical poetry was renewed after visiting Enajori.com more frequently.

And there are stories on Enajori.com of Hiren Bhattacharyaa’s younger days that my father would recount, and so on. Since my father’s death, I have lost a repository of stories about several of Assam’s literary stars. Sections like “Authors” and “Assamese Poetry” on Enajori.com are a great resource for me.

In-depth articles on prominent Assamese personalities are updated four times a year. Take a look at the sections “Art and Culture,” “Literature,” and “Exclusive Interviews” to see how hard the Enajori.com team is working.

Childhood memories are precious. At our rented home, when I was two or three years old, my father used to turn on the old beautiful radio set. In between Vividh Bharati (another classic entity in India) and late-night opera on Radio Moscow, the local Guwahati station would come alive. I remember the elders cooing to me Ki nam di matim…, which means What name do I call you…

Dr. Bezbaruah was in the movie theaters in those days, and the next song could have been Moina kon bidhatai xajile tumar podum sokuti…

(What’s that God who designed your lotus eyes…)

YouTube has a few of these golden Assamese film songs, but many songs are not available. On Enajori.com I found the names of the songs, the respective films, the music directors’ names, and other useful details.

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Apart from boasting the largest database of Assamese songs, Enajori.com keeps abreast of contemporary poetry. Poetry is an integral part of the website. Readers mail in poems that Talukdar and his team select to publish.

There are a few Indian web zines I know to be bilingual. Of course, there is Pratilipi, a chic art and literature journal catering to Hindi and English audiences. But what sets Enajori.com apart is its local effort for a global audience. Sitting in the small town of Biswanath Chariali, Talukdar relentlessly works for his one love.

Enajori.com is a popular website among non-Assamese readers, too,” said Talukdar. “We have a team of translators who work on ‘Project Lipyontor,’ in which various Assamese socio-cultural write-ups are translated into English so that non-Assamese readers can have a taste of Assamese literature.”

Side by side with its literary fare, Enajori.com presents subcategories such as “Tribes,” “Traditions,” and “Cuisines” for indigenous tribal communities such as Bodo, Rabha, Karbi, Dimasa, Deuri, Mising, and more. One can hope this section will be showcased even more in the future; tribal literature and art would definitely be a valuable addition to Enajori.com.

Another promising part of Enajori.com is a Children’s Corner, which is under construction. This section devotes space to children’s paintings and artwork. The website’s team is “planning to make a special website for children to give them bigger exposure,” said Talukdar. This again brings me to Burhi Aair Sadhu, which is an ongoing project (and a massive labor of love) on Enajori.com.

“Our Unicode team is working on this project to digitize all the tales from Burhi Aair Sadhu. Currently there are thirteen tales,” Talukdar said. 

As if music, poetry, and children’s literature are not enough, the e-zine is the first website to publish an Assamese novel, Rita Chowdhury’s Popiya Torar Sadhu, in full. In addition, Enajori.com's new initiative is sahityarathi.com, a tribute website on the occasion of Lakshminath Bezabaruah’s 150th birthday. Within a year, all of Bezbaruah’s works will be digitized on the site.

All this good work has not gone unrewarded. Enajori.com’s award list is filling up steadily. It recently earned the prestigious Manthan South Asia and Asia Pacific Award. Northeast Review writes of the win, “[(Enajori.com)] is the first venture from Assam to have brought this award home by competing against 36 countries from South Asia and Asia-Pacific region. Enajori.com was offered this award in the e-Culture and Heritage Category and named as the best venture among the 72 finalists, selected from 470 entries.”

Enajori.com grows stronger with every milestone. At this point, I cannot help blurting out the well-known Bohag Bihu song-blessing, which is an incantation to one’s flock of cattle in rural Assam to prosper and multiply. The couplet loosely translates to ““eat as much vegetables and greens as you want, grow by the yardstick each year / grow stronger than your mother and father / grow up to be a big beautiful one.”

lau kha, bengena kha, bosore bosore barhi ja
maar’o xoru, baper’ou xoru, toi hobi bor goru


Nabina Das, an MFA (Poetry) from Rutgers University (U.S.) and an MA (Linguistics) from Jawaharlal Nehru University (Delhi), has a debut poetry collection, Blue Vessel, and a novel, Footprints in the Bajra, which was longlisted in the prestigious Indian prize Vodafone Crossword Book Award 2011. Her poetry collection Into the Migrant City is forthcoming. Das’s poetry and prose have been published in several international journals and anthologies, and she is a member of the peer review committee of The Four Quarters Magazine literary journal published in Northeast India. Winner of several writing residencies and fellowships, Das has won prizes in major Indian poetry contests and has worked in journalism and media for about 10 years. Trained in Indian classical music, she has performed in radio/TV programs and performed in street theater. Das blogs at http://nabinadas13.wordpress.com/ when not writing, teaches creative writing classes and workshops, and dabbles in unschooled art on paper and broken objects.

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