United Colours of Literature

Sandhya Taksale writes about her Jaipur Literature Festival experience..

It was a total celebration.. celebration of books, authors and good writing.

From 21st-25th January, the beautiful pink city of Jaipur was literally rocked by the who’s who of the Literary and Art worlds. 225 authors and speakers from 23 countries and around 30,000 book lovers from across the world thronged the Diggi Palace where the festival was held.

The atmosphere was charged with energy and excitement. The venues were packed with people spilling out from every direction, eager to listen to authors like J. M. Coetzee, Orhan Pamuk and others. People listened, discusses, debated over several issues and books seemed to fly off the shelves every day. Book lovers standing in long winding queues to get autographs of the authors was a common sight. The stimulating line up of brilliant writers included- Richard Ford, Martin Amis, Henning Mankell, Junot Diaz, Ruskin Bond, Patrick French, Vikram Seth, Chimamanda Adiche, Adaf Soueif and many others. The gathering included many renowned South Asian writers and our own Gulzar, Javed Akhtar, Prasoon Joshi, Mrinal Pande, Ashok Vajpayee pulled the crowds. Many celebrities from Bollywood, like Vidhu Vinod Chopra, Kabir Bedi, Om Puri, Ila Arun visited the festival. Some of the sessions this year focussed on regional language literature.

At the venue, spaces were created to linger or to sit in the warm sun and chat over a cup of tea or coffee.

After 6.30 pm, the stage was set for some music and dance. The gulabi thand, delicious food and drinks and the mesmerizing music from across the world was a perfect end to every evening. Classical music, Qawali, Sufi and Folk music, Rock and Rap – everything was there.

Pratham Books had also put up a stall at this festival. Kids, schoolchildren, book lovers visited this stall and the books just flew off the shelves. Our brand new books got a very good response. Children could not take their eyes off from the colourful books, beautiful illustrations and engaging stories.

In this fest, the Tehelka foundation also conducted a workshop for children in Jaipur. The theme for this year was Building Bridges – human to human. A group of 50 children from Public and NGO schools were selected. In this workshop, the session on ‘Books as the means of Communication’ was conducted by our team members – Manisha Chaudhry and Sampurna Murti. They also read out passages from ‘Pehelwanji’ and ‘Abbu Khaan ki Bakree’. The photos from the book ‘Narmada’ were an example of how photos can also be a medium of communication in children’s books.

For our team, the Jaipur Literature Festival was a wonderful experience and all of us are looking forward to attending it next year too.


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