Kalimpong, Jan. 12: In an effort to keep the Lepcha language alive, a short duration course on conversation is under way at Bom Busty here. The course, which commenced on January 3, will conclude tomorrow.
Sixty-four students — all of them (barring one) Lepchas and coming from different parts of the Darjeeling hills and even from Shillong, Nepal and Bhutan — are part of the course. It is being conducted by a group of Lepcha language scholars under the guidance of Dawa Adenputso. “Through the course we hope to protect and preserve our language and literature,” said Solon Karthak Lepcha, the coordinator of the course.
The course was divided into four sections: Section A for students with no reading and writing skills but who are comfortable with the spoken word, Sections B and C for students with no knowledge of the language at all, and Section D for late entrants.
Nilly Karthak, a second semester post-graduation student of North Eastern Hill University in Shillong, said she had taken up the course to get acquainted with her roots. “I now know how to write and read properly, but speaking the language is still a problem,” she said. For the first time in the five years since the course started, the student-strength has crossed the sixty mark. Scholars, who are part of the initiative, are pleasantly surprised at the response from language enthusiasts of all age groups. “Our youth today are conversant in Nepali and English, but have forgotten their mother tongue in the process. Our effort is an attempt to address this problem,” said the coordinator.
Since the inception of the course, it has been held twice at Siliguri and once each in Rongchong and Pemling. “We are trying to keep alive the language in all those areas where there is a strong Lepcha presence,” said Solon.
A collection of Lepcha hymns and songs —Ripkuppong — which has been translated and compiled by Bimomit Lepcha, was released at the programme. Tomorrow, students who have successfully completed the course, will be presented certificates at a special ceremony.