A Literary Weekend: Times Lit Fest and Bookaroo
As the balmy winter sun allows us leisurely afternoons outdoors, every weekend has its share of fests and fairs. I’ve previously written about food fests (read more here) and shopping fairs (read more here). This weekend is a literary feast, with the Times Lit Fest Delhi and Bookaroo, Festival of Children’s Literature. I briefly visited both yesterday.
The Times Lit Fest Delhi (#TLFDelhi), organized by the Times Group, is currently in its third edition. This year all the events take place at the Habitat Center, with a fantastic line-up of speakers. This 2 day fest starts at 9:30 a.m. and goes on till 8:00 p.m., with multiple sessions taking place simultaneously. Entry is open to everyone, making it a popular event.
I attended the afternoon session on Saturday, and the entire area was jam-packed. Events were spread out over Stein Auditorium, the main lawn, Margosa, Silk Cotton, Silver Oaks 1 and 2, and Silver Oak Lawns. A couple of book stalls sold primarily works of authors who were speaking at the Fest. The two stalls belonged to Full Circle Bookstore and Times Group Books.
The afternoon sun didn’t deter people from attending sessions in the open lawns. I arrived at the fag end of Jairam Ramesh’s talk on “Indira Gandhi and the Environment”, which was well received. Then, in true blogger spirit, I muscled my way to the front to hear Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar in conversation with Sanjoy Roy on “Nationalism and the Arts”.
The power couple: Shabana Azmi and Javed Akhtar
Addressing the absurd reactions of certain political groups to the release of the Bollywood film ‘Padmavati’, they made some poignant points. According to them, the arts are the first weapon against extreme right-wing nationalism. Various forms of art and culture are instrumental in the widespread dispersal of rational thought. In this context, Shabana Azmi differentiated between patriotism and nationalism. Javed Akhtar, despite being ill with laryngitis, recited wonderful nationalist poetry by legends such as Kaifi Azmi and Jan Nisar Akhtar, written in the 1960s on the concept of nationalism.
Javed Akhtar reciting nationalist poetry
Big sponsors like Rajnigandha, Rau’s IAS and GAIL, among others, ensured the event was well organized and well-managed. My only gripe was the lack of a wide variety of books for sale. It was extremely crowded, making it nearly impossible to find seating for the more popular sessions. A bigger venue would have addressed this issue. Click here for a line-up of today’s events i.e. 26th November:
Scenes from Bookaroo Festival of Children’s Literature
Post the Lit Fest, my friend Rajul (check her out on Instagram here) and I visited the Bookaroo Festival of Children’s Literature at Children’s Park, India Gate. This festival brings together over 50 award-winning writers, storytellers, illustrators and poets for innovative sessions. Most sessions only allow children, and take place simultaneously in different sections. Aimed at children of ages 4 and up, there was something for every kind of child. The venue was beautifully decorated but very crowded. If families don’t want to attend any sessions, they can lounge and picnic in the lovely park. I feel it’s necessary to instill a love of reading in every child. Fests like the Bookaroo are fantastic for their exposure to books and reading. Here’s a round-up of the sessions taking place today i.e. 26th November:
Dates: 25th and 26th November
Entry FREE for both
Times Lit Fest Delhi Rating: 4/5
Bookaroo Festival of Children’s Literature Rating: 4.5/5