India’s regional languages are as vast and varied as the subcontinent itself. Atmospheric and distinctive, each language is a conduit of history and heritage, imbued with a sense of locality. Each carries the stories, memories, and collective wisdom of generations past, and links us to our family, our neighbours, and our community.
For twenty-seven-year-old Bengaluru techie Vinaykumar Sajjanar, it was easy to fall in love with his local language, Kannada. The more he read, the more he appreciated its beauty, and assumed that others would too. But when he wanted to narrate a Kannada poem at an open mic night in the city, the organizers turned him down. “I was very excited but they didn’t let me sign up since my poetry was in Kannada,” he explains. “They just wanted Hindi and English.”
This incident spurred Sajjanar to create Kahale (meaning bugle), a platform for others who shared his love for Kannada literature. “Kahale is a unique platform that bridges the gap between Kannada writers, readers and publishers,” he explains. “We try to celebrate the regional language and encourage budding writers to submit their work to us.”
In just about 8-10 months, Kahale has a community of more than a 1000 writers who come from various countries. The platform publishes videos of poetry readings on Youtube.
It also conducts workshops called Kahale Katte, in which renowned Kannada writers advise and guide budding writers on how to take up their passion professionally, and hosts open mic nights where poets and writers can share their work.
Discussing the challenges and the achievements so far, Sajjanar points out that keeping the community growing is a lot of work, and possible only by the dedication of the Kahale team – in-house designers Basavaraj Shivanaikar and Kumar Sthavaremath, bloggers Sushma Venkatesh and Varja Hebbar and social media and event managers Praveen Kumar Hugar and Akshay Hiremath. But the appreciation for the site makes it all worth it.
“I feel happy to see so many people still feel connected to their regional language.”
“They write in to tell me Kahale is probably the reason why they have started writing in Kannada again, an old habit for most of them which was slowly fading.”
So, what’s next for the team? Sajjanar says he wants to conduct more open mic events across various cities, a literary magazine, and bookmarks featuring legends of Kannada cinema and literature.
Written by Shreya Shashank