First travelling Kumaon Literary Festival begins from Delhi

New Delhi, Sep 20 (IANS) A preview of the Kumaon Literary Festival, to be held from October 23-27, was held in the national capital.

As part of the preview, a number of social programmes built around the festival – Women Writers Unlimited, Fellows of Nature, Literary Bhagidari and K-Lit Mobile App – were launched at the Taj Mahal Hotel here on Saturday evening.

Arguably the first travelling literary festival in the country, it would host top authors, cinema and media personalities, political commentators and opinion makers, at Te Aroha, Dhanachuli, an enchanting little village in the Himalayas in Uttarakhand. It will then travel to Abbotsford, Nainital.

The idea behind holding this annual, retreat destination literary festival in Dhanachuli village is that the hilly region of Uttarakhand shares a special relationship with literature, said Sumant Batra, a lawyer and founder of this festival.

“The Kumaon literary festival is the first one of international scale and standards to be held in a rural area. Dhanachuli is being developed into a smart village – through creative initiatives,” Batra said while addressing the preview event.

Barkha Dutt, journalist and chairperson of the festival advisory board, said although she was unsure about another literary fest, the idea of an annual retreat destination literary festival in the Himalayas was what got her on board.

Speaking to IANS on the sidelines of the event, Batra said: “In this intolerant society, the fest will discuss the culture of ban. Author Anuja Chauhan, who supports ban on porn, and others who are against it, will be sharing the same stage to discuss their views.

“The festival is the first from which stem out a number of social and other programmes with tangible deliverables and measurable outcomes, which also dovetail back into the festival, adding value to the fest,” Batra said.

Women Writers Unlimited Series is an initiative to empower women, highlighting one of the outstanding features of the Kumaon literary festival that over 50 percent of its participants are women.

Another social programme – Fellows of Nature – aims to create a book of fine collection of short stories on nature, a FON Award to be presented to two best stories, and to create a community of nature writers. The campaign aims to put spotlight on critical environmental issues.

Literary Bhagidari project aims to mentor the youth through literature.

A mobile application K-Lit, arguably the first by any literary festival in India, launched on the occasion allows users to watch the fest live, receive live updates and pictures and also allow them to interact with the speakers.

Planned and conceptualised by Barkha Dutt, Anuj Bahri (literary agent), Janhavi Prasada (filmmaker) and others, the festival is supported by the UN Women and the Uttarakhand Tourism Board.

Speakers at the literary fest include Mrinal Pande, historian Shekhar Pathak, literary historian Rakshanda Jalil, author Anuja Chauhan and Namita Gokhale among others.

The fest would see discussions on ‘Shifting landscape of political campaign’ by MP Dinesh Trivedi, Congress leader Randeep Surjewala and others, forgotten legends of Indian cinema, role of women in ancient India, and Hindustani poetry connecting the common man to literature.

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