POKHARA: The fifth edition of the Nepal Literature Festival 2016 kickedoff among much fanfare in the premises of Nepal Tourism Board in Pardi, Pokhara. The four-day literary extravaganza will run from 29 January to 1 February. The festival, organized by Bookworm Foundation with Random Readers Society of Nepal as co-organizer, was inaugurated by retired British Gurkha soldier and Author JP Cross. He has worked tirelessly for more than fifty years for the rights of British Gurkha soldiers.
The keynote speech was delivered by eminent political, social and economic analyst Pitamber Sharma, who spoke on the ‘uncomfortable questions ’ posed by the hiccups in Nepal’s development. He expounded on issues like the national scenario after earthquake, Nepal’s relationship with its neighbors, the need to be self-sufficient, and the quagmire of federalism.
Expressing his delight at being able to organize the fifth edition, Festival Director AjitBaral said, “Pokhara is already a beautiful city, we just tried to add to its literary and cultural value. The Festival is our tiny effort to enhance the reading and writing culture in the country.”
The festival opened with the launch of Politican Rabinda Adhikari’s ‘Samriddha Nepal’ (Prosperous Nepal), followed by critical comments on the same by political analyst Jhalak Subedi, policy analyst Surya Raj Acharya, and economic analyst Swarnim Wagle. This was followed by the most awaitedsession– “What kind of new force?” (Kasto Naya Shakti), which centered around the ‘campaign for new force’ initiated by former Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai. While Bhattarai argued that a new force was essential to eliminate poverty, generate employment as well as lead the country out of the current confusion, the secretary of Nepal Communist Party, Yogesh Bhattarai, argued that there was neither space nor need for another party in the nation. Meanwhile, Sudheer Sharma, editor of Kantipur, concluded that as long as a group was able to bring about significant changes in the Nepali society, it did not need the tag of ‘old’ or ‘new.’ The session was moderated by Basanta Basnet.
Dipak Raj Joshi, the Chief Executive Officer of Nepal Tourism Board, expressed his happiness at an international literary festival being organized in Pokhara. “This event will play an important role in establishing Pokhara as a literary hub,” he said.
Audience in the hall, meanwhile, enjoyed the session ‘Language Talk’ (Bhashaka Kura) where litterateurs Sarat Chandra Wasti and Khagendra Sangraula conversed with Mohan Mainali about the intricacies of grammar, tone, and language in Nepali literature. The third session of the day was ‘Nara ki Kawita’ (Slogan or Poem?), which was focused on dissecting the advocacy hidden within poetry. While poet Sarita Tiwari argued that a poem could sometimes be used as a powerful and straightforward sword, poet Tirtha Shrestha stated that poetry needs to focus more on aesthetics.Poet Shrawan Mukarung also stressed on the power of words in the session moderated by Sangeet Srota.The final session of the day was ‘Dosro Pustakko Sakas’ (The Difficulties of a Second Book), where writers Buddhisagar and Narayan Wagle entertained the audience with their experiences of bringing out a second book after a successful debut. This was moderated by Ganesh Paudel.
The festival will host above 100 authors, artists, politicians, media persons, intellectuals, economists and sociologists among others in more than 31 panel discussions on a variety of topics. For the next three days, the Festival will have panel discussions, poetry and ghazal recitals and book signings.Lovers of literature will get a chance to rub their shoulders with literary stars, engage in racy dialogues, and grab a book and get it signed by their favorite writers. The event is sponsored by the US Embassy in Nepal, Nepal Tourism Board and Nepal Telecom.