Marathi Culture and Festivals

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Balshastri Jambhekar 

Best known as the "Father of Marathi Journalism", Balshastri Jambhekar is renowned for his contributions in the field of print media and social awareness. He was one of those social activists who made continuous effort in generating useful and healthy consciousness amongst the common masses and attempted to educate the uneducated . 6th January has been declared as the Journalist Day in Maharashtra in the memory of this endowed individual and is celebrated with much devotion and dedication every year.

Balshastri Jambhekar was born in the village of Pombhurle in the Rajapur taluka in Konkan region of Maharashtra state. Talented and intelligent since childhood, Jambhekar became a great scholar and researcher in many subjects on adulthood.

First Marathi Newspaper - Darpan
During the British rule in India, Jambhekar helped in molding the Maharashtrian mind-set, particularly in the beginning of the 19th century. He observed the importance of print media and hence, utilized it to its best potential to awaken interest of freedom in masses. He knew if India had to free herself from the clutches of the British and if British were to be overthrown, awakening the masses would be the top priority and for that, there was nothing better than print media.

The newspaper Darpan was born out of this patriotism and social awareness. He founded Darpan as the first Marathi newspaper. He was editor of this newspaper during the British rule in India. This turned out to be the beginning of Marathi journalism. Balshastri Jambhekar was only 20 years old then.

His associates in this phase included people like Govind Kunte and Bhau Mahajan.

The first issue of Darpan was published on 6 January 1832. The newspaper was printed both in English and Marathi languages in two separate columns. Marathi was meant for the general public and English was meant for the ruling British. It was priced at 1 rupee. Newspaper was a new idea in India at that time hence there were very few subscribers in the beginning but slowly people appreciated it and agreed with the thoughts expressed in it. The readership grew.

It was published for eight and half years. The last issue was published in July 1840.