Nainital, Oct 19 : With a stellar line-up of thought-provoking sessions, the fourth edition of the two-day Kumaon Festival of literature and arts, named Himalayan Echoes, kicked off on Saturday in Nainital here.
A prominent voice of the authors who come from the mountainous regions of India, the festival celebrates the written and spoken word of and from the region. It takes place in an intimate, backyard setting in the hilly city's Abbotsford house, and saw over 200 attendees, many of them locals, last year.
With a focus on Northern Ireland's literary culture in 2019, it covers wide-ranging themes like the environment, conservation, wildlife, sustainable living, cinema, arts, food and regional literature, in addition to the mainstream discourse.
Speaking to IANSlife, festival director and author of graphic novel 'Tales of Young Gandhi' Jahnavi Prasada said that Nainital has many convent schools run by Irish missionaries, and many Indian students grow up with the literary works of Irish litterateurs like Oscar Wilde, Y.B Yeats, and Samuel Beckett.
It has partnered with John O'Connor writing school in the UK-administered Northern Ireland, represented here by Cathy McCullough, Kate Newmann, Nuala Mckeever, and Rosemary Jenkinson.
The 22-speaker festival is highlighted by Rajasthaan's deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot, along with actor and co-author of "Healed How Cancer Gave Me A New Life" Manisha Koirala. Both are slated to speak on Sunday.
Among the speakers are noted authors Stephen Alter, Ajoy Sodani, Deepa Agarwal, Marryam Reshii, Pushpesh Pant, Shekhar Pathak and Tarana Husain Khan.
Publishers Aditi Maheshwari Goyal and Satyanand Nirupam are also participating.
The festival, closely mentored by Jaipur Literature Festival director Namita Gokhale, also has an underlying theme of sustainability, visible not just on the speakers' dais, but also in practice, as Himalayan Echoes goes plastic-free from this year.
Festival advisor and lawyer Anish Dayal told IANSlife that such festivals that take place in the lap of nature, remind one of what one is losing in the race to unsustainable development.
"In a world where urban centres are getting polluted and unlivable, and the focus on environmental issues increases, the role of the mountains and the communities in the hills becomes prominent," he said, adding that people frequenting the hills must be made aware of the eco-sensitivity of the region.
The festival concludes Sunday.
(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at email@example.com)
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