Jaipur Litfest spreads its wings

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MAKING WAVES: Writer Namita Gokhale at the iconic Boulder Bookstore where the Jaipur Lit Fest bookshelf greets book lovers during the 2015 edition of the fest; courtesy Facebook
MAKING WAVES: Writer Namita Gokhale at the iconic Boulder Bookstore where the Jaipur Lit Fest bookshelf greets book lovers during the 2015 edition of the fest; courtesy Facebook

Event, 10, reaches UK, Oz, US    

MAKING WAVES: Writer Namita Gokhale at the iconic Boulder Bookstore where the Jaipur Lit Fest bookshelf greets book lovers during the 2015 edition of the fest; courtesy Facebook
MAKING WAVES: Writer Namita Gokhale at the iconic Boulder Bookstore where the Jaipur Lit Fest bookshelf greets book lovers during the 2015 edition of the fest; courtesy Facebook

By Parsa Venkateshwar Rao Jr

It was a compact gathering that witnessed the curtain-raiser of the 10th Jaipur Literary Festival that will go on the stage as it were on January 19 at the famous Diggy Palace in Rajasthan’s famed capital city on Tuesday evening here.

The people who manage the show are a talented team of diverse skills. Festival directors Namita Gokhale and William Dalrymple attend to the core work of getting the right authors from different languages in India and abroad, working around a theme. This time round it is all about the “resilience, resistance and resonance” of the Bhakti traditions in India. Dalrymple explained the raison d’etre of the festival saying that it is an attempt to bring the world to India, and take India to the world in terms of literature.

Sanjoy Roy of Teamwork, who is the event-manager, a difficult and thankless task by any standards, observed that the organizers – the directors, Teamwork, Taj Hotels and Zee Media—have managed to work together, and despite the fact that each one of them have a separate view, and they did not fall out as it usually happens with the organizers of a cultural event like the JLF.

THUNDER DOWN UNDER: Acting Australian High Commissioner Chris Elstoft announces the collaboration between Melbourne Writers Festival and JLF in New Delhi; courtesy Facebook
THUNDER DOWN UNDER: Acting Australian High Commissioner Chris Elstoft announces the collaboration between Melbourne Writers Festival and JLF in New Delhi; courtesy Facebook

He pointed out that the festival had retained its democratic nature and spirit, and that they have kept the sessions open and he cited the story of a village school teacher in Gorakhpur district in eastern Uttar Pradesh who was impressed by the idea of JLF and he organized a book club in the village and he attends the festival along with members of the club. The other instance of the democratic spirit of the festival he cited was that of the school and college students who came from far and wide to attend the festival and spent the nights on the platform of Jaipur railway station because they could not even afford even to stay in youth hostels.

Roy observed that the JLF has acquired a reputation not just for its literary flavor but also for the rich repast laid out by the Taj Hotels. The menu combines food for thought as well as thoughtful cuisine. He thanked sponsors Zee Media for supporting the event. He said that the JLF costs money and it could not have been sustained without the backing of Zee Media.

He also explained how the JLF was spreading its wings. It is now being held at South Bank in London and at Boulder, Colorado in the United States. It is set to debut in Melbourne in February.

The theme of JLF 2017 is the traditions of Bhakti poetry in India with its characteristic features of “resilience, resistance and resonance”. Arundhati Subaramniam, who has edited an anthology of Bhakti poetry in translation, called “Eating God” had read brief poems of Tamil Vaishanvite saint-poert Nammalwar, 15th century Telugu Bhakti poet Annamacharya and 17th century Maharashtrian Bhakti poet Tukaram.