Mumbai, Feb 27: Various cultural programmes were held across Maharashtra today to celebrate the 'Marathi Bhasha Diwas' on the occasion of the birth anniversary of noted Marathi litterateur V V Shirwadkar alias 'Kusumagraj'.
In Shirwadkar's hometown Nashik, 'Kusumagraj Pahat', a classical musical extravaganza organised by Kusumagraj Memorial was presented this morning. Around 18,000 MSRTC buses and 568 bus stations across Maharashtra were decorated with hoardings and banners displaying poems of Kusumagraj and other celebrated poets.
The government started celebrating the birth anniversary of Kusumagraj as 'Marathi Rajbhasha Gaurav Din' after the Jnanpeeth awardee's demise in 1999. From this year, it has instituted two special awards for individuals taking initiatives to promote Marathi literature.
The first 'Bhasha Samwardhak' award went to an Ahmednagar-based vegetable vendor, Bebitai Gaikwad, who saved Rs 5 per day from her earnings to purchase 900 books.
A high school drop-out, Bebitai claims to have read more than 3,000 books on Marathi literature till date.
Meanwhile, at an interaction here today on the occasion of 'Marathi Bhasha Diwas', MNS chief Raj Thackeray defended his decision to send his children to convent schools despite his party's staunch pro-Marathi stand.