Death Anniversary of U SoSo Tham 2024

18 December 2024
Meghalaya    Regional holiday

Death Anniversary of U Soso Tham is a regional celebration in the northeastern state of Meghalaya. It falls on December 18th every year. This festival celebrates the noted poet U Soso Tham and his contributions to the Khasi language. U Soso Tham was born in 1873 in Meghalaya. He was born as a Khasi, an indigenous group of northeastern India. The Khasi language is very different from the many other languages spoken in India and has origins in the Austroasiatic language group that reaches down to Indonesia. Since many centuries Khasi was an oral language with no written script. Khasi was written down in Bengali and then using the Roman script after the arrival of Welsh missionaries in the 19th century.

Despite a poor background and little formal education, Tham became a schoolteacher. After switching jobs several times, he was finally appointed a Khasi language teacher in the government high school in Shillong in 1905. He worked there until his retirement in July 1931. He was the first poet to start secular literature with diction. He was the first person to make use of Khasi idioms in a form inspired by English poetry. Soso Thams main legacy is the two volumes of poetry he left behind - "Ka Duitara Ksiar". It has 46 short poems, including lyrics, ballads and nursery rhymes, and 14 translations of various English poets all in Khasi language.

The contributions of Thams work towards the preservation of the Khasi language is celebrated and marked on his birth anniversary. A statue of Tham was erected in Meghalaya in 1975. People consider him the greatest literary icon in the history of literature in Meghalaya.