Google Doodle is celebrating the 100th birthday of Amrita Pritam, the foremost female Punjabi writer in history. She was born in Gujranwala in British India, 100 years ago today and is widely known as one who “dared to live the life she imagines”. At the age of 16, Pritam published her first collection of verse. She is most remembered for “Aaj Aakhaan Waris Shah Nu”, her poem that depicts the traumatic 1947 partition of India and Pakistan.
Pritam is widely considered to be the greatest 20th century Punjabi poet. Her work’s title translated to “I Call Upon Varis Shah Today,” referring to the 18th century Sufi poet Waris Shah. She published 28 novels including Pinjar, which is a dramatic tale set during the time of partition. Her autobiography Kala Gulab (Black Rose), referenced in the Doodle art today, reveals many details of her personal life. Her work allowed other women to speak more openly about their experiences with love and marriage.
After the partition, Pritam lived in Pakistan and wrote many of her works in Hindi and Urdu. She is known for her mastery of the Punjabi language and her work remains admired on both sides of the border. She also worked for the All India Radio and edited the literary journal Nagmani. In 1986, she was nominated to Rajya Sabha, the Indian Parliament. During her six-decade career, Pritam received many prestigious awards including the Bharatiya Jnanpith literary award in 1981.
Padma Vibushan, one of India’s highest civilian awards, was awarded to Amrita Pritam, in 2005. That same year, a French translation of her novel, The Skeleton, was awarded the La Route des Indes Literary Prize. The Doodle’s reach shows it will be visible in India, Pakistan, parts of North and South America and Australia.