Jaipur Literature Festival: Sans Intolerance, Echoes Message Of Unity


By: Sai Prasad Mohapatra

Jaipur: Between 3 am to 6 am I was raised on Ganesh, Saraswati strotas by my father Ustad Allah Rakha Khan, a legend by himself. His fingers mellifluously generating bols, taals and often conquering different seasons and times. Mesmerized and bewildered, between 6 to 7 I was sent to Madrassa , did up and down to pass off as a dedicated, serious student , then after an hour, across the road I was sent to a Cathedral. Neither at the madrassa nor at the Cathedral no one ever told that what they are teaching is the only truth. That was the time we lived in, that was a different time.

Reminiscences of childhood and upbringing in times ensconced in the far corner of mind which often plays before eyes like post-card pictures. Nostalgia? Revisiting the past?

Wah Jaipur! Wah, wah to your tradition and culture. Mukarar. Keep repeating this literary culture, wishes globally renowned, Grammy winner tablist, India’s pride and world’s envy Ustad Zakir Hussain

British-born American essayist and novelist Pico Iyer in his keynote address, reaffirmed the faith in literature, particularly with an eye roaming on the ethereal sky of the present troubed and trying times, times, “literature has become more indispensable than ever. In the time of travel bans, literature has become more important because it is not respectful of boundaries. It knows no boundaries and barrriers, Eternal and omnipresent it is ” Iyer stresses , the philosophical litterateur he is. Are we listening? We must.

Pico Iyer went on to say that it is literature that had the power to make the world a better place to live in, and not “wars and drone attacks”.

“Our words and ideas can take us a little bit past simplicities and remind us that ultimately we can change the world by changing how we dream of it and try to shape it to live an imprint,” he stressed.

Dealing with the state that poses a threat within the literary space where one form of literature is nudging another out, and the role of technology overpowering the powers of novelists. Pico Iyer said: “poets are being eclipsed by novelists and novelists by multimedia devices”.

The state that has become the epicenter of the Padmavati, nay, Padmaavat controversy, the Jaipur literature festival witnessed a slight as Chief Mnister Vasundhara Raje, who was supposed to inaugurate the literature festival, chose to give it a miss for reasons of course best known to her. It was, however, inaugurated by former Rajasthan Governor Margaret Alva.

The 11th edition of the five-day event, that will see over 350 speakers from diverse disciplines of literature, speak and engage in stimulating discussions, kicked off at the iconic Diggi Palace amid scintillating musical and dance performances.

Festival producer Sanjoy K Roy said: “It is important to understand the importance of culture and create platforms for dissent. As long as the dissent is within the constitutional framework, it’s fine… fringe groups may not agree with the words a writer writes, or a film that a filmmaker makes or a painting that a painter makes.”

‘Reviving The Tradition Of Poetry’, this year’s dominant theme hinges on poetry and on women-centric writings.


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