Tera Singh Chan
Singh Chan, who has died aged 88, was a prominent figure in the field of
Punjabi literature, theatre and communist journalism. He was one of the
pioneers of the Indian People’s Theatre Association (Ipta) in East
Punjab which in the early 1950s during the World Peace movement attracted
stalwarts in its fold like Balraj Sahni, actor and Surinder Kaur, singer.
was the first secretary of Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha – union of
Punjabi writers – when it was established in 1956 under the
presidentship of the legendry writer Giani Hira Singh Dard. Chan was to
play the role for almost 15 years. He was in charge of the culture front
to a Sikh family in Campbellpur in West Punjab Chan had started his career
as a teacher and then as a shop assistant in
published two collections of poetry in the 1940s and four collections of
operettas. After him no other Punjabi writer ventured in to the genre. He
had a potential of being a poet of high calibre but it was sadly lost to
the demands of the ‘progressive’ literature of his times which saw its
role as a tool of political propaganda. One of his poems dedicated to the
‘Beloved Mother India’
was included in the
school text books in
of his popular operettas, Lakkar di
Latt (A Wooden Leg) about the hardships of the army men who lost their
limbs on the war front had moved many people.
Punjab. Tera Singh Chan.
he was named by his mother as Tera (Yours) as a gratitude to God after his
other siblings had died at the time of their birth. But he died as an
atheist. Although he supported turban and a long flowing beard that often
gave an impression of his being a devout Sikh, he did not want his
children to perform religious rites after his death. At his early age he
had worked as a store keeper in Gurdwara Sacha Sauda Chuharkāna – a
Sikh holy place situated near
commitment to the philosophy he believed in can be judged from the fact
that he had allowed one of his sons to marry a Muslim woman. Likewise, he
had allowed another son and a daughter to marry outside his caste group.
It was not easy as he faced opposition from within his own family.
is survived by his wife, three sons, three daughters and many