PANAJI: The noted Konkani litterateur, Ravindra Kelekar, who had become a legend in his lifetime, passed away after a prolonged illness resulting from age-related complications at a Margao hospital on Friday morning. He was 85.

A Gandhian to the core, late Kelekar was a multifaceted personality - a freedom fighter, social and linguistic activist, creative thinker, poet and an author of high calibre - and had command over at least half-a-dozen languages including Gujarati and Portuguese. He is survived by a son and grandchildren. A guard of honour will be presented to the legendary personality before his last rites are performed at 12 noon on August 28, Saturday, in his native village, Priol.

Born on March 25, 1925, at Cuncolim in South Goa, late Kelekar was influenced by the Gandhian thoughts and in 1949 he left Goa for Wardha to be with noted Gandhian and writer, Kakasaheb Kalelkar and stayed under his tutelage until 1955 when he was appointed as librarian of Gandhi Memorial Museum, New Delhi. This stay, however, was short-lived as only a year later he plunged back into Goa’s Liberation movement, then gaining momentum.

Post-Liberation, late Kelekar was one of the main protagonists in the anti-merger campaign of the newly-formed Goa with Maharashtra, and then played a key role in the founding of the Konkani Bhasha Mandal, which lead the literary campaign for the recognition of Konkani as a full-fledged language and its reinstatement as the state language of Goa.

The government has announced a holiday on Saturday and all schools and government offices will remain closed as a mark of respect to the departed soul. The government also ordered closure of its offices in the later half of Friday.

Although he also wrote in Marathi, Hindi and Gujarati, the contributions of late Kelekar for the growth of Konkani are immense. He was always in the forefront of Konkani movement and is considered the pioneer of modern Konkani movement along with late Manoharrai Sardesai, late Chandrakant Keni and Uday Bhembre.

Residing in his ancestral house, located in the picturesque village of Priol in Ponda taluka for past half-a-century, late Kelekar authored nearly 100 books in Konkani language, including ‘Amchi Bhas Konkaneech,’ ‘Shalent Konkani Kityak,’ ‘Bahu-bhashik Bharatant Bhashenche Samajshastra,’ ‘Himalayant,’ ‘Mahabharat, Ek Anusarjan’ and ‘Panthastha’ among others. He also edited ‘Jaag,’ a Konkani magazine for more than two decades.

The Marathi books written by late Kelekar include ‘Japan Jasa Disla’ and ‘Gnyannidhicha Sahavasat,’ while in Hindi he wrote a book titled ‘Gandhi - Ek Jivaniya.’ A number of his books have been translated into Hindi and other North Indian languages and are used in university education.

Late Kelekar was awarded with the Padma Bhushan award in the year 2008, besides the prestigious Gomant Sharada Award of Kala Academy, the Sahitya Akademi Award (1976) and the Sahitya Akademi Fellowship (2007), which is the highest award of the Sahitya Akademi, the India National Academy of Letters.

The crowing glory to the literary career of late Kelekar came last year, when he was declared the recipient of the Jnanpith Award, the first ever such award for Konkani language literature. The award was bestowed upon the litterateur, last month by the Lok Sabha Speaker, Ms Meira Kumar.

In his acceptance speech, which turned out to be his final public speech, Kelekar expressed concern over excessive obsession among people with the English language in virtually every sphere of life. He warned the society that this scenario was weaning away the people from regional languages. The writer, who always took pride in calling himself ‘A fighter with the pen,’ further remarked that this mindset was instrumental in producing ‘Bonsai’ intellectuals, writers and professors and even readers.

Story Summary: 

Congress Working Committee member and ex-Navelim MLA, Mr Luizinho Faleiro seen paying homage to late Ravindra Kelekar at his residence in Priol. Late Kelekar’s family members are also seen.

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