The Best Time of the Year for Indian Bibliophiles
by Pauline Cagayan
For most people, birthdays or Christmas eve are the happiest days of their entire year as nothing can compare the best feeling when you are opening a gift while sharing smiles with your loved ones. Well, not to brag about the majority's warmth, but that ‘most people’ doesn’t include these bibliophiles owing to the fact that their bestest season is when the literary festival arrives.
Today, the largest free literary festival in the world is the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) in India which is celebrated in Jaipur city every first month of the year and has taken place in other cities around the world over the year.
September 9, 2001 when Laura Bush, an author who previously served as the first lady of the United State hosted the first National Book Festival at the White House where everyone is welcome to share their manuscripts and literary pieces and talk about everything under the sun. They set up tents and gathered different authors, bookworms as they created book-signings, book sales, panel presentations on children's mysteries, poetry, and other literary pieces. Adding some discerning yet entertaining highlights of the event, you will also witness various book illustrations inside libraries’ exhibit galleries, a pleasant reading room and a clinic area which offers free tutorials on how to preserve a photograph and literary documents like what some museums and collectors are doing.
This exactly means that the national book fest which was launched by Mrs. Bush was not solely focused on patronizing a printed literary piece itself because they warmly offered space in any form of artwork be it live performances, paintings, art technology, photography and illustrations.
Book festivals or what we call literary festivals is like a typical festival celebrated annually by a particular group of people in a particular town or city. A regular gathering of bibliophiles– be it a writer, a reader or both not. Most of these merrymakers claim that book festivals are the perfect and most genuine occasion that anyone could manifest because here, no one will judge your style, no fraud, no hate, no extra dramas and no one will invalidate you and the things you loved doing and not doing.
As its sole objective of empowering both art and culture of reading and writing, this festival fosters a genuine support for literature and history. Literature allows us to step back in time to witness our ancestors' life and observe how our world is shaped by our culture, society and beliefs.
Through literature, people appreciate more of what we have now and what we need for tomorrow because it’s a great avenue to record everything in any aspect of life. Today, literature is not just an art and for artists, literature now is something we deserve to celebrate.
Honestly, a lot of literary festivals and gatherings are celebrated around the world but there was this country who stands among them all–India.
India is prominent in terms of the number of World Heritage Sites which made them one of the top ten countries in the world with over 1.3 billion population and being the world's second largest country next to China's 1.4 billion population. Adding the fact that there are six seasons or ritus in a year for this country according to the lunisolar Hindu calendar: Spring (Vasant Ritu), Summer (Grishma Ritu), Monsoon (Varsha Ritu), Autumn (Sharad Ritu), Pre-winter (Hemant Ritu) and Winter (Shishir or Shita Ritu).
Who wouldn't know how united and disciplined Indian people are as they put their respect second to none despite being diverse, having various beliefs, culture and being considered as the birthplace of some of the world's major religions like Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Sikhism?
For them diversity seems to be a treasure as they use this aspect to showcase their wealth and creativity. Being diverse and speaking various languages did not hinder their relationships hence turned out to create festivity. Tourists go to higher altitudes to enjoy the season of snow in India because it's a joy for them to experience skiing, snow sculpting, snow fights, and try Indian authentic winter foods.
And now that you’re eyeing for a better place to meet your book buddy while thinking of a great reason to travel in India, set your pen up as I listed these top India’s literary festivals that you don’t want to miss out on as a bibliophile during the most beautiful time of the year–winter.
October to December | Bangalore Literature Festival
No one can complain about the claim of Bangalore Literature Festival for being India's largest community-funded literary conclave independent literary event established in 2012.
In fact, the BLF team tied up last year with a public programming platform Avid Learning to present “Sounds of Shakespeare'' where in English Professor of Ashoka University Jonathan Gil Harris examines how Shakespeare influenced Indian art and culture and how his legacy serves a vital role in the contemporary period of India.
One of the notable features of BLF is that they are able to invite and have a great conversation with the best minds in the world of literature and spill over, beyond the literary, into the vast expanse of art, pushing the limits of what is literature, and what is art.
Fostering young people of the city to see the beauty in reading habits and be an erudite person is one of this festivals’ missions.
You can catch their future announcements, updates and glimpse on their past celebrations through their website at bangaloreliteraturefestival.org.
November | Tata Literature Live
Tata Literature Live! is Mumbai’s largest international literary festival of course in India. “It is an intellectually stimulating event for people of all ages.”
Traditionally, this festival recognizes a Lifetime Achievement Award to a distinguished literary personality; the presentation to the annual Poet Laureate; the Great Debate; daily performances including for children, and the prestigious Tata Literature Live! What made this festival extraspecial is that amidst the crisis brought by the pandemic, they never stopped introducing new aspects of literature worldwide. They continue to inspire and build the courage of Mumbai people in embracing literature by entering the digital world. When the pandemic happened, this festival was one of the most influential literary festivals for it was organized thoroughly.
The Mumbai LitFest Literary stellar line up who serves as their festival’s guest speakers came across literature, poetry, philosophy, science, business and the arts, featuring authors, poets, thought leaders and more. They do believe that literature and arts are the most powerful duo in elevating a community that’s why they are very open in entering any world of art just to showcase the force of literature.
You can catch their future announcements, updates and glimpse on their past celebrations through their website at atalitlive.in
December | Goa Arts and Literary Festival
If you’re a nature lover or specifically a thalassophile I beg you to hear about Goa state in India.
Well, Goa is popular for its beaches and architectural designs but aside from that, Goa creates its name in the world of literature as it has consistently hosted some of the best lineups of contemporary poets ever assembled in literary festivals in India as it produces some of the best artists and writers of India.
Goa strengthens meaningful connections with the finest writers, poets, artists and musicians from around the corner and beyond to achieve its goal of being one of the unquestioned culture capitals of the world which motivates them to do better and empowers culture through literature.
They want to prove that you can find both the beauty of nature and literature in one space and that is where Goa is.
You can catch their future announcements, updates and glimpse on their past celebrations through their website at goaartlitfest.com.
January | Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF)
Yes, royalty exists. And yes, not in London but in India. JLF is the most prominent literary festival in the world as it puts the spotlight on the world’s greatest writers and celebrates their wins of having a great life with books besides the people of great minds. Its core value is to remain unchanged: to serve as a democratic, non-aligned platform offering free and fair access.
Every winter season, of January to be exact, this old structure known as the Pink City of Jaipur welcomes over a million of book lovers not just across India but all over the globe. JLF was once a part of Jaipur Heritage International Festival way back 2006 apparently, Indian writers decided to generate a separate and a free-standing festival for literature where greatest story-tellers, commentators, penman, litterateur, bookworm and even a geek-dork-nerd people get together as if they can read each other's mind while celebrating the day.
What makes this event extra special is that every year, organizers prepare something phenomenal such as inviting popular publishers, prominent authors and award-winning novelists with various literary backgrounds. JLF 2021 was held online because of the pandemic but with the hard work and perseverance of the organizers, this years’ JLF is physically returned to its face to face set up.
You can catch their future announcements, updates and glimpse on their past celebrations through their website at jaipurliteraturefestival.org.
January| Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival
AKLF is the first and only literary Festival in India generated by the nearly 100-year-old Oxford Bookstore in 2015 which exhibits Kolkata’s vibrancy of wisdom, its engagement with the literary world at large and explores literature as part of their culture and heritage.
Its primary mission is to widen and build a rich booklover community where literature is visible and accessible. It provides an alternative easy access library with the aim of encouraging its youth to become more aware with the Contemporary Bangla Literature at the national and international stage and enlighten them with the Bangla language.
Same as how most of India's literary festivals are celebrated, AKLF offers conversations that are both meaningful and enlightening from its well-known book enthusiasts serving as the event guest speakers.
Kolkata community assures that they’ll provide a huge space to engage and discover new ideas with the great thinker reader and writers across the city
You can catch their future announcements, updates and glimpse on their past celebrations through their website at aklf.in.
February-March | Lucknow Literary Festival
Headed by Lucknow residents that was established on 2013, this festival serves as a gateway to celebrate the value of literature & cinema through lectures, forums, workshops, debates, open discussions and book launches as this event gathers well known authors who share same passion in writing and inspire students in preserving and saving age-old literary, heritage and cultural history of Lucknow City.
Here, everyone is pleased to enjoy celebrating the event although its target audience are the Lucknow youth for them to develop the awareness of the new generation upon knowing the legacy, civilization and culture of the city.
This three-day event of February or March also showcases the heart and creativity of Lucknow people in literature as they are welcome to share each and everyone’s artwork because its highlights is to bring out the interest of youth in any aspects of literature.
You can catch their future announcements, updates and glimpse on their past celebrations through their website at lucknowliteraryfestival.com.
April | Dehradun Literature Festival
I know– It’s summer. But let me share with you these literary festivals if you suddenly wish to extend your winter trip in India.
This festival is the most distinctive literary event that is annually celebrated in the ‘Dev-Bhoomi’ City of Dehradun in India. As the goal of other festivals, it aims to diversify and metamorphose Dehradun people into an extraordinary literary experience and develop a great habit of reading among the people of Uttarakhand from an early age that will transform them as unified and passionate civilians.
A plethora of reputed and eminent speakers, authors and notable people from varied disciplines across the country serves as speakers for this event that will highlight the three-day reading celebration of summer.
You can catch their future announcements, updates and glimpse on their past celebrations through their website at dehradunliteraturefestival.com.
May | Alliance Literary Festival (ALF)
As what it implies, ALF is a celebration of great ideas from all fields of thought and experience which arises literature, art, history, culture, politics, management, media, science and music being the earliest literary festival in the globe that originated and hosted by an educational institution of Alliance School of Liberal Arts at University in Bangalore.
These aspiring culture vulture scholars prove that youth can empower people and has an ability to equip their co-youth with their practical skills as they innovate and create a great avenue that targets early-stage ventures.
What makes this festival extra special is it involves more than just valuing and protecting the culture and heritage of India but it showcases the emergence of new ideas and technologies, and brings a change in conventional thinking where every learner is an achiever.
It goes beyond the box of a literary festival as they link up experts from various professions of government, literature, art, film, science and technology, civil society, and law; and even transcend the bounds of knowledge to performing arts like theater, dance, music, and stand-up comedy proving beyond doubt on how academe produce renaissance man.
ALF envisions becoming the hub of art, culture, science and innovation in India.
“ALF hopes to reimagine the university – as a place where the great problems of the day are pondered and solved – and literary festivals – as the forum for practical and engaged education in the 21st century – in one fell swoop” (Alliance School of Liberal Arts).
You can catch their future announcements, updates and glimpse on their past celebrations through their website at allianceliteraryfestival.com.
Doing the honor of hosting literary festivals provides a substantial avenue where readers can better acquaint themselves with the prominent literary enthusiasts that will surely foster their competency mainly in writing and reading.
Relax, those festivals are just a portion of what India has. Coming from a typical researcher who is not literally a citizen of India, I can’t literally express what more if I could experience even one of those celebrations. But one thing I am sure of is that, now I have other things to add onto my bucket list.