The Kumaon Literary Festival is one of a kind international festival that celebrates the creative and the magical in this changing world. Named after the picturesque hilly region in Uttarakhand, this year’s litfest is a five-day extravaganza from 11th October to the 15th and features an incredible line-up of speakers including internationally recognized authors, film-makers, artists, leaders and important change-makers of the day. A completely non-profit initiative, the programme promises to celebrate the diversity of Indian literature, provide a platform for young writers, award the deserving and the talented and provide opportunities for networking, partnerships, and fruitful collaborations.
Founded by eminent lawyer and bestselling author, Sumant Batra, this year’s instalment of the Kumaon Literary Festival features stalwarts such as Jerry Pinto, Dr. Rakhshanda Jalil, M.K. Raina, Gurcharan Das, Nirupama Dutt, Manjiri Prabhu, and Tuhin Sinha among many others.
We give you seven reasons why you need to block the dates right now and start packing.
1. It is a traveling literary festival: It isn’t one of those boring lit fests that take place inside claustrophobic auditoriums. No, this is happening in the open air of hill stations, right in the midst of nature and guess where? The first three days of the festival is taking place inside the Jim Corbett National Park at a beautiful eco-friendly boutique jungle resort called ‘Jim’s Jungle Retreat’ and on the last two days, the festival shall travel to the enchanting village of Dhanachuli that promises majestic views, fruit orchards, forests and perfect weather in India’s best boutique hotel called ‘Te Aroha’.
2. You get to take selfies with your favourite authors: The festival provides the perfect platform to meet your favourite writers in person, hyperventilate and ask questions and finally get autographs and selfies as mementos of an evening well-spent. Whether it’s the poetry of Yatindra Mishra you’re mesmerized by or Surender Mohan Pathak’s crime fiction stories, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
3. Or attend interactive debates and panel discussions with creative professionals: If you, like most people, crave intellectual conversations, you’ll be far from disappointed. Watch your favourite journalists and opinion-makers debate and battle it out on topics such as Dalit literature, the shifting notions of the nation state, the difficulty of being good and the 5 C’s of writing a great thriller novel among many others. You can even participate in the discussion by asking relevant questions and get your point across.
4. Learn something new by enrolling in the workshops: In addition to the panel discussions, there’s also going to be readings and workshops to hone your creative skills. Take part in the ‘Literary Bhagidari Workshop’ or ‘Tell Me Your Story Workshop’ and you may have just taken the first step towards being a published writer. At the end of the day’s events, there’s also a cultural performance lined up which promises to be as mesmerizing.
5. Meet like-minded people and recharge your creative batteries: Festivals like these also provide the perfect opportunity to socialize and meet like-minded people. Perhaps you’ll realize that the person sitting next to you is gushing about your favourite Urdu poet or has an alternate opinion on the Bollywood scene thereby facilitating more conversation over tea. Perhaps you’ll find the perfect group of people to start a writing or reading club with or remain friends for life.
6. This is an innovative rural experiment you’ll be proud to be a part of: Set in idyllic rural hill stations, this festival dispels the long-held notions that such ‘literary’ programmes are elitist and only for intellectuals. Here you’ll meet the local people alongside world-famous personalities and get to interact with them both, celebrate the unique culture of the region where several writers have made their summer homes and help to preserve a long legacy of talent. In a world of intolerance, violence, and apathy, this festival is a small step at community building right from the rural to the beyond that fosters an open-minded outlook of the world.
7. Over 50% of the participants are women: If you’ve always complained about the lack of gender inequality in this world, here’s one reason to rejoice. Their Women Unlimited Series project is supported by UN Women and features women in all major roles be it as speakers, curators, chefs, volunteers, moderators and the like.