Famous search engine Google on Saturday honoured the great Bengali poet, educator and activist Kamini Roy with a beautiful doodle on her 155th birthday. Today’s Doodle celebrates the first woman to graduate with honors in the history of India, who went on to advocate for the rights of all women. Born on this day in 1864 in the Bakerganj district of British India—now part of Bangladesh—Roy grew up in a prominent family. Her brother was elected Mayor of Calcutta, and her sister was a physician for Nepal’s Royal Family. Though interested in mathematics, Kamini began writing poetry at an early age.
During a time when women were expected to focus primarily on marriage, Kamini was determined to pursue education. In 1886, she graduated with a degree in Sanskrit from Bethune College, earning her B.A. with honors. In college, she met another student, Abala Bose, who went on to be known for her social work in women’s education and alleviating the condition of widows. Her friendship with Bose would inspire her interest in advocating for women’s rights.
After graduation, Kamini became a teacher at Bethune and published Alo O Chhaya, the first of her many books of poems, in 1889. By forming organizations to champion causes she believed in, she helped advance feminism on the Indian subcontinent. “Why should a woman be confined to home and denied her rightful place in society?” wrote Roy in 1924. She also worked to help Bengali women win the right to vote in 1926.
Among her notable literary contributions were – Nirmalya, Pouraniki, Ashok Sangeet, Gunjan, Dwip O Dhup, Mahasweta, Pundorik, Balika Sikkhar Adarsha, Jibon Pathey and Malya O Nirmalya. For her literary accomplishments, Kamini Roy was awarded the Jagattarini medal by Calcutta University in 1929.
She was president of the Bengali Literary Conference in 1930 and vice-president of the Bangiya Sahitya Parishad in 1932-33.
Kamini was influenced by the poet Rabindranath Tagore and Sanskrit literature. In her later life, she lived at Hazaribagh for some years. In that small town, she often had discussions on literary and other topics with such scholars as Mahesh Chandra Ghosh and Dhirendranath Choudhury. Kamini died on September 27, 1933 while staying in Hazaribagh. (UNI)