Jaipur, Jan 24 (IANS) Loud beating of drums and rhythms of traditional Rajasthani musical instruments reverberated in the premises of Diggi Palace here on Thursday, marking the inauguration of the 12th edition of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
Several thousand book lovers descended on the venue for the inauguration function in which festival producer Sanjoy Roy, co-director Namita Gokhale and with Rajasthan Minister for Art and Culture B.D. Kalla, shared their thoughts.
“Each year, we gather here to celebrate, talk, debate, discus, and most importantly create a space for dissent. There is very little space for those who have a dissenting point of view in today’s world,” Roy said, before highlighting the role writers have played over centuries in guiding mankind.
He also recalled that the festival began on a humble note with just about 170 visitors in the first edition and has now grown immensely, welcoming over 500,000 book lovers every year.
“In the hurly burly of our everyday life, we forget what the arts represent. There is a world beyond the usual canvas and it is through arts and literature that we are able to understand ‘the other'”, he said.
Noted Indian writer Gokhale, who is largely responsible for the representation of writers from the Indian languages, began her speech in Hindi and invoked Hindu god Shiva.
“Satyam Shivam Sundaram,” Gokhale said, represents the true essence of this festival, describing the annual gathering as the Maha Kumbh of literature that brings together a diverse, multilingual and inclusive community of writers every year to the Pink City.
“We are each other’s stories. The human race has progressed through our shared knowledge,” she noted.
Gokhale also read out a message from her counterpart and noted writer-historian William Dalrymple, who is not attending the 2019 edition of the festival following the death of his father, in which she highlighted that writers from Egypt to Mexico and from New Zealand to Zimbabwe have gathered here.
Kalla said that the festival has transformed the cultural landscape of the state, and highlighted that more and more writers, many of them very young, have been inspired by the festival.
The five-day annual event is often described as “the greatest literary show on earth”.
The festival officially kicked-off with an inaugural address by Nobel Prize winner Venki Ramakrishnan, in which he talked about the role of science in the contemporary world.
The inauguration is followed by over 350 sessions over the next five days, on themes ranging from current socio-political scenario to history, mythology and science.
The Jaipur Literature Festival is produced by Teamwork Arts, with Roy as the producer and writers Gokhale and Dalrymple as its co-directors.