1923 – Popular Bengali humorist, poet, playwright and story writer Sukumar Ray’s anthology ‘Abol Tabol’ was first published by U.Ray and Sons. It consists of 50 rhymes of which 7 are unnamed short rhymes. Few of the famous characters from ‘Abol Tabol’ are Kath Buro, Sat Patro, Tyanush Goru, Panto Bhoot etc. It’s English edition ‘Abol Tabol: The Nonsense World of Sukumar Ray’ was translated by Sampurna Chattarji and was published by Puffin, New Delhi in 2004.
1924 – Eminent singer, composer, academic and a master in Rabindra Sangeet, Suchitra Mitra was born. It was Pankaj Mullick, famous Bengali music director who recognized her aptitude in music and gave Suchitra Mitra her first lesson in Rabindra Sangeet. In 1941 she was offered a scholarship by Sangeet Bhavan in Santiniketan where she learnt from Indiradevi Chaudhrani, Shailajaranjan Mazumdar and Santidev Ghosh – all exponents of Rabindra Sangeet.
She graduated from Santiniketan in 1945 and later received her master’s in Bengali in 1946. In the same year she started ‘Rabitirtha’, the leading school of Rabindra Sangeet. She was actively involved in performing arts, theatrical performances, painting and film-acting. She produced and also acted and danced in many ‘Rabindra Nritya Natyas’. Her other interests included poetry recital, writing poems, short stories, essays etc.
She also authored many books on Rabindra Sangeet. In 1973 she was awarded the Padma Shri by the Government of India.
1927 – Eminent poet and literary giant, Kunwar Narayan was born. He visited Europe, Russia and China during his formative years which shaped his poetry style. He covered works of renowned poets like Nazim Hikmet Ran, Pablo Neruda and Anton Słonimskie. He is regarded as a stalwart of Indian literature. In 1956 he published his first anthology of poems called ‘Chakravyuh’ which is considered as a landmark.
He was one of the contributing poets in ‘Tisra Saptak’ published in 1959. His second collection of poetry ‘Parivesh: Hum-Tum’ was released in 1961. Kunwar Narayan also penned the epics ‘Atmajayee'(1965) which is based on Nachiketa in Kathopnishad of the Upanishads and ‘Vajashrava Ke Bahane'(2008). In 1973 he brought out his collection of short stories ‘Aakaron Ke Aas Paas’. His poetry collections ‘Apne Saamne'(1979), ‘Koi Dusra Nahin'(1993) and ‘In Dino'(2002) were also well-received and much appreciated. In 1995 he received the ‘Sahitya Akademi Award’ for his contribution to Hindi literature. In 2001 he was honoured with country’s highest award for poetry the ‘Kabir Samman’. Kunwar Narayan also received international honours like the Medal of Warsaw University, Poland in 2005 and the Premio Feronia of Italy in 2006 for his literary achievement. In 2006 he was awarded the ‘Jnanpith Award’, country’s highest literary award. In 2009 the Government of India bestowed on him the third highest civilian honour of India, the ‘Padma Bhushan’.
1936 – Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande, the architect of systematized Hindustani Carnatic Music passed away. In olden days Hindustani music was propagated orally during which it underwent several changes. It was Pandit Bhatkhande who penned a guide on Hindustani classical music in which he re-categorized the ‘ragas’ using the ‘Thaat’ system and explained them in simple and lucid manner. His first work ‘Swar Malika’ described all prevalent ragas. He established institutions that imparted lessons in Hindustani music. In 1926, Pandit Bhatkhande along with Rai Umanath Bali and his nephew Dr. Rai Rajeshwar Bali (who was then the education minister of United Provinces) founded the Marris College of Music which was later rechristened and is now known as Bhatkhande Music Institute.
1965 – American astronaut of Indian descent and an officer in the US Navy Sunita Williams was born. After graduating from the Florida Institute of Technology she joined military services. She was selected by NASA in June 1998. Only the second woman to become the commander of the International Space Station, Sunita Williams has a number of records to her credit. She has had more spacewalks than any woman with 44 hours of spacewalk time. She also holds the record for longest space flight time for a female (195 days). She is the first person in history to be interviewed directly from the ISS. In 2007 she became the first to run a marathon while in orbit when she participated in the Boston Marathon and finished in 4 hours and 24 minutes. In 2008 she was honoured with the Padma Bhushan by the Government of India.
2004 – Noted Kathak Exponent Damayanti Joshi passed away. She was a disciple of Sitaram Prasad of the Jaipur Gharana and was later trained by masters like Acchan Maharaj, Lacchu Maharaj and Shambhu Maharaj of the Lucknow Gharana. She became an accomplished dancer at a very young age and joined Madame Menaka’s troupe that travelled around the world. She started giving solo performances in the 1950s and and in the 60s started giving Kathak lessons at her dance school. In 1968 she received the ‘Sangeet Natak Akademi Award’ and the Padma Shri in 1970.