When it comes to first Assamese magazine we recall the period of Arunudoi which added a new era in Assamese journalism. In addition to Arunudoi, Jonaki was one of the popular magazines which brought romanticism to The Assamese literature. Jonaki had a plenty of contribution to the development of modern Assamese literature which is known as the age of romanticism as well as the era of Bezbaruah.

In 1888, on 25th August, a group of Kolkata based Assamese students ‘Prabashi’ set up a committee ‘Asomiya Bhasa Unnati Sadhini Sabha’ for the development of Assamese language. After formation of this committee, they decided to publish a new monthly Assamese magazine ‘Jonaki’ which means Moonlight in English.

Jonaki was published on 9th February 1889 under the editorship of  Chandra Kumar Agarwala and it was being printed till 1898. As a student group, despite facing financial problem still ‘Prabashi’ was able to publish 11 issues in the first year. Likewise, 12 issues in the second year, 10 issues in the third year, 11 issues in the fourth year, 7 issues in the fifth year, 11 issues in the sixth year, 6 issues in the seventh year, 1 issue in the eighth year, with the total number of 69 issues of Jonaki were published.

After Chandra Kumar Agarwala, Hemchandra Goswami and Lakshminath Bezbarua were the editors for the third and fourth years respectively. And Kanaklal Barua was for fifth and Romakanta Borkataky was for the sixth year. After a short break of two consecutive years i.e 1899 and 1890, Jonaki was again published from Guwahati in the year 1901 which was continued till 1903 under the editorship of Satyanath Borah.

Jonaki gave birth so many dedicated writers, poets at that time which brought an evolution to modern Assamese language. First romantic poem ‘Bon Kunwari’ by great poet Chandrakumar Agarwala, first Assamese sonnet ‘Priyatomar Sithi’ by Hemchandra Goswami and first Assamese Farce literary work ‘Litikai’ by Lakshminath Bezbarua are great examples of literary creations.

Thus ‘Jonaki’ became the pioneer monthly magazine with modern Assamese literary work. Jonaki period was the Golden Era of Modern Assamese literature. Unfortunately, the publication was stopped in the year 1903 due to some unavoidable issue. But the contributions of Jonaki to our Assamese language never can be compared to others.

Apart from ‘Jonaki’, many magazines had been published from various places at that time. A new monthly magazine ‘Bijuli’ was published from Calcutta in the middle of the year 1819, ‘Usha’ (Dawn) from Darrang in 1907, under the editorship of Padmanath Gohainbarua. ‘Banhi’(Flute) was one of the most popular magazines which were published by Lakshminath Bezbarua in 1909 from Calcutta. Later this magazine appeared from Guwahati and after the death of Lakshminath Bezbarua, Madhavchandra Bezbarua took lead to publish the magazine and continued it.

‘Weekly Banhi’ (1945), ‘Assam Bandhab’ (1910), ‘Alochani’  (1909), ‘Chetana’ (1919), ‘The advocate of Assam’ (1905), ‘Argha’ (1921), ‘Asam Hitaishi’ (1925), ‘Pranta Bashi’ (Bengali newspaper, Dhubri), ‘Jagaran’ (Bengali monthly 1924), ‘Spandan’ (1932), ‘Suprabhat’(Good morning in 1927) were published from different corners of Assam. Moreover, ‘Awahan (1929) under the editorship of Dr. Deenanath Sharma, ‘Amar Desh’ (1931), ‘Bordoichila’, ‘No Joan’ (1934), ‘Khadem’ (1937) were notable news magazines which created a new group of writers in Assamese literature.

Also, most of the writers focused on the development of children as well as women magazines during the period. Karunabhiram Barua, son of Gunabhiram Barua founded the first children magazine ‘Lorabondhu’ which was published from Nagaon in 1886. English children Magazine ‘The Boy’s own paper’ was the inspiration of ‘Lorabondhu’. After this children magazine, there were many magazines appeared from every corner of Assam such as ‘Okon’ (1916), ‘Moina’ (1923), ‘Arun’ (1926), ‘Amar Desh’ (1931), ‘Pokhila’ (1933), ‘Parijat’, ‘Awahan’ (1940) etc.

‘Ghor Jeuti’ was the first Assamese women’s monthly magazine which was published in 1927 under the editorship of Kamalaloya Kakati. Literally, from ‘Jonaki’ to ‘abahon’ these time are called the golden period of Assamese literature.

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*Collected from various sources