The Dhahan International Punjabi Literature Prize awards excellence in the Punjabi literary community. At an upcoming Vancouver gala on October 24, this year’s three winners will be awarded for their achievements. The international prize promotes Punjabi literature on a global scale by awarding $25,000 annually to the best book of fiction published in either Gurmukhi or Shahmukhi scripts; two runner-up prizes of CDN $5,000 will also be handed out.
The Dhahan Prize is the largest literary award of its kind celebrating the rich history of Punjabi language and aims to inspire the creation of Punjabi literature across borders, bridging Punjabi communities around the world and promoting Punjabi literature on a global scale.
Established in Vancouver, the awards garner critical acclaim and significant exposure for aspiring writers, setting the stage for its select winners to secure international projects that will also reach broader English audiences.
Punjabi culture has a rich history in BC — as the fifth highest spoken language in Canada it’s also integral to the multicultural fabric of the nation. The prize is awarded by the Canada India Education Society (CIES) in partnership with the Department of Asian Studies in the Faculty of Arts at University of British Columbia and is funded by an endowment from Barj and Rita Dhahan together with family and friends.
2015 Winners of the Dhahan Prize in Punjabi Literature
First Prize ~ $25,000
Lota by Darshan Singh
Runner Up Prize ~ $5,000: Gurmukhi script
Mor Udaari by Harjeet Atwal
Runner Up Prize ~ $5,000: Shahmukhi script
Madho Lal Hussain – Lahore Di Vel by Nain Sukh
“Darshan Singh’s novel Lota was selected to receive the Dhahan Prize from eligible entries from five countries around the world,” said Barj S. Dhahan, co-founder Canada India Education Society. “This prestigious, international literary award both opens doors for aspiring Punjabi writers and plays an important role in the preservation and expansion of the Punjabi language and its literature.”
Previous winners of the prestigious prize include Khali Khoohaan di Katha by Avtar Singh Billing (Gurmukhi script), Ik Raat da Samunder by Jasbir Bhullar (Gurmukhi script) and Kabutar, Banaire te Galian by Zubair Ahmed (Shahmukhi script).
About Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi Scripts
Gurmukhi Script (ਗੁਰਮੁਖੀ) is a version of the Landa alphabet standardized by Guru Angad Dev Ji, the second Sikh guru It’s commonly used by Sikhs. Gurmukhi means “from the mouth of the Guru”.
Shahmukhi Script (شاہ مکھی) is a version of the Urdu alphabet normally written in Nastaʿlīq style, used by Hindus and Muslims. Shahmukhi means “from the King’s mouth”. By encouraging writers to use Gurmukhi and Shahmukhi scripts, the Punjabi language remains alive in written word.