The Jaipur Literature Festival celebrated its tenth birthday with a glittering inauguration ceremony featuring Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, celebrated yogi Sadhguru, poet and activist Anne Waldman, and award-winning poet Gulzar. The beautiful Front Lawns of Diggi Palace Hotel in Jaipur were packed with dignitaries, readers and writers from India and all over the world, brought together by a love of literature.
The festival opened to a fanfare of ceremonial drumming and horns by Rajasthani musicians led by Nathoo Lal Solanki, followed by a beautiful and rousing concert of popular, folk and classical music by the Shillong ChamberChoir.
The Jaipur Literature Festival is the largest free literary festival in the world. Festival Director Namita Gokhale addressed the audience in both Hindi and English, observing that ‘we live in the best of times, we live in the worst of times but literature remains undisputed’.
Festival Director William Dalrymple spoke of the astonishing phenomenon of the Jaipur Literature Festival’s success, which has created open access to Nobel Prize winners, Harvard and Oxford scholars, and literary prize winners across the world. Vasundhara Raje Scindia expressed her delight that the festival was hosting a facsimile copy of the 13th century Magna Carta this year, considered to be the founding document of human rights and democracy.
The Keynote Address was given by two extraordinary poets of repute: Gulzar and poet and activist Anne Waldman. Gulzar congratulated the festival for completing ten glorious years as a unifying platform for writers and readers, young and old. An exuberant Anne Waldman offered a cautionary note on the times we live in.
Bhyrappa entertained his audience at the Mughal tent with a potpourri of Indian culture: full of trivia, anecdotes and lesser-known facts from Vedas, Upanishads, Gita. Other highlights included a session with Man Booker Prize winner Paul Beatty, the popular Foreign Correspondents Club, S.L. Bhyrappa in conversation with Vivek Shanbhag, and a session on The Enigma of Amma.
At Jaipur BookMark the First-Book Club new writer’s mentorship programme gave aspiring authors the fantastic opportunity of a special one-on-one session with industry experts sharing their rich experience and expertise. A session on copyright shared perspectives from around the world and literary exchange was discussed with Mahasweta Devi and Rabindranath Tagore as case studies.
Overall, the ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival saw a very lively and invigorating first day, packed with thought-provoking discussions and interesting debates.
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