<br>The festival is being held for the first time in the cool environs of Shimla — the erstwhile summer capital of India, set-up by the British in 1857. The main venue chosen for the festival is the historic Gaiety theatre –another landmark of the viceroys dating back to colonial times.
Booker Prize winner Geetanjali Shree, the first to be awarded the prestigious prize for a Hindi novel, is among India’s top literary figures attending the Sahitya Akademi’s international literature festival.
The festival has been organised by the Union Culture Ministry along with state government’s Department of Language, Art and Culture as part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations.
Already packed to its capacity, due to the increased tourist influx, the festival adds more colour to the hill town. Arjun Ram Meghwal and Meenakshi Lekhi, Ministers of State for Culture, beside Andhra Pradesh Governor, Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, were present in the inaugural session .
"Literary festivals bring together great minds of the land and offer once in a lifetime opportunity for many young and aspiring writers and literary lovers of the region where the literary festival is held," said a senior official of the Akademi here, during preparations at the Gaiety complex–which is completely spruced–up for the mega event.
The festival will feature discussions, presentations, poetry and story readings performances covering a wide range of topics such as "Cinema and Literature," "World Classics & Indian Writing," "Tribal Writings", "Writings of LGBTQ community of India," "Media & Literature," "Bhakti Literature", Indian classical and world literature, Multilingual Poetry reading, Songs of the soil– Reading from tribal languages, Challenges before tribal writers, oral epics in unrecognised languages and "Uniting Cultures through Translation".
The evenings will feature cultural performances–Bharatanatyam by Sonal Mansingh, Tala Vadya Kacheri by P. Jayabhaskar, Nagara by Nathulal Solanki and Dastan-e-Karn, Dastangoi by Mahmood Farooqui.
Some of the distinguished personalities participating in the festival are noted poet and filmmaker Gulzar, S.L. Bhyrappa, Chandrashekhar Kambar, Kiran Bedi, Linda Hess, Daniel Negers, Surjit Patar, Namita Gokhale and Kapil Kapoor.
The prominent names also include Kerala Governor Arif Mohammad Khan, Reghuveer Chaudhari, Sitanshu Yashaschandra, Vishwas Patil, Ranjit Hoskote, Gotanjalli Shree, Sai Paranjpye, Deepti Naval, Malashri Lal, Sudarshan Vashishtha, Pratyoosh Guleri, S.R. Harnot, Hoshang Merchant, Leeladhar Jagoori, Arun Kamal, Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, Baldeo Bhai Sharma, Satish Alekar and Vishnu Dutt Rakesh.
The event is free for the public on all days and during the festival, there will be a display of about 1000 books related to the Indian freedom movement and the publications of five Indian publishers will be for sale.
Nearly a dozen writers from Himachal Pradesh have also been made part of the event, few of them also include Minakshi Chaudhary, a young writer known for her book– ‘Ghost Stories of Shimla hills’ and her fight with the cancer, Raja Bhasin, a noted historian of Shimla, S R Harnote who recently published his book, and having a treasure of cast literary work behind him and Minakshi Faith Paul.
Geetanjali Shri had remarked, "Behind me and this book ( Ret Samadhi–Tomb of Sand) lies a rich and flourishing literary tradition in Hindi, and in other South Asian languages. World literature will be richer for knowing some of the finest writers in these languages."
This is being very aptly reflected in the literature festival here in Shimla.
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