In the middle of 19th century, the American Baptist missionaries brought a modern press to Assam. The press was not brought only for business purpose but to spread Christianity among Assamese people too and they established a press in Sivasagar district of Assam in 1841. Before starting a glorious history of print media in Assam they were engaged in written and translating the Assamese book into English and vice-versa. (Arunodoi, 1983).
In 1845 the missionaries had decided to publish the first Assamese monthly paper in the general meeting of Sivasagar Baptist and it was a historic decision for Assamese print media. In January 1846 the missionaries were able to create a new era to the Assamese journalism world and published the first edition of Arunodoi from Sivasagar. The first editor of Arunudoi was Dr. Nathan Brown.
The word ‘Arunodoi‘ has its roots in the Sanskrit language. It comprises of ‘Arun’ and ‘Udoi’. ‘Arun’ means the ‘sun‘ and ‘Udoi’ stands for ‘rising‘, hence “Sun Rise” in English. The Missionaries may have correctly envisioned the future of the magazine while naming it “Arunudoi, as it turned out to be the rising sun of glorious journalism history of Assam.
The first tagline was ‘The Arunodoi, a monthly paper, devoted to religion, science, and general intelligence‘. It was printed and published by Oliver Thomas Cutter at Baptist Missionary printing press situated on the bank of Dikhow river. American missionaries were the pioneer of Assamese journalism.
Arunodoi had two forms, one was a newspaper and other was magazine or ‘store of knowledge’. The size of the magazine was approximately 27x18cm and the number of pages was between 8 & 16.
According to Dr. Maheswar Neog ‘, Many of us do not know or do not venture to know or do not get to hear that Arunodoi had two forms, newspaper, and magazine.‘ Both forms were circulated at least more than eight years i.e till 1854. The editors of this newspaper were Dr. Nathan Brown, A.H Danforth, S.M Whiting, William Ward, E.W.Clerk, Smt. Susan R Ward, A.K.Garney. Though the main aim of the magazine was to spread Christianity, it also published current affairs, Science, Astrology, History, and Trivia. It opened a way for Assamese people to know about the western world. Ananda Ram Dhekialphukan, Hemchandra Barua, Nidhi Linai Pharowal were three notable Assamese authors at that time.
There is the difference of opinion among the scholars regarding the lifespan of Arunodoi. No one is sure of the exact time of its demise, for some scholars, it was closed in 1880 and for other authors, the magazine’s publishing ended when the printing press was sold in 1883.
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*sources: Axomiya Sahitya Rooprekha by Dr. Maheswar Neog, Wikipedia.
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