Annual Literary Fiesta Enthralls Visitors in Pokhara – and around the World
December 16, 2019 (Pokhara): The last day of the IME Nepal Literature Festival witnessed a great turnout as visitors arrived to add their opinions and voices to a multitude of issues. The day was packed with 10 sessions, and a literature-themed visit. The DSC Prize for South Asian Literature will be awarded during the eleventh session today.
“We had the highest number of international participants and panelists this year, and an equally high number of debuting panelists from all corners of Nepal,” said Festival Director Ajit Baral, “We are proud to have hosted four days of unique dialogues on a plurality of issues, that will surely foster a culture of discourse and interaction. Our visitors and viewers have also appreciated our efforts to establish and encourage readership, especially among young children.”
“Hosting the DSC Prize has been a special privilege,” added Niraj Bhari, Executive Director of NLF, “It has highly raised Nepal’s visibility in the South Asian and global arena as a neutral ground for gathering and democratic engagements.”
Visit to Kabi Shiromani Sangrahalaya (Museum)
In the morning of the NLF, a group of enthusiastic literature lovers were taken on a tour to the Kabi Shiromani Sangrahalaya in Arghaun-Archale. Visitors enjoyed a walk through the village of the revered poet, and participated in a poetry recitation session by Madhav Biyogi before taking a look back at the history, poetics and life of Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Paudyal. Paudyal is regarded as the founding father of modern Nepali poetry in the twentieth-century. Rochak Ghimire regaled the group with anecdotes about the poet. This was an initiation by NLF to initiate literature lovers, especially the youth, to learn about a national treasure. “I fell in love with Paudyal’s poetry before I had learnt his name, and this was an excellent opportunity to know more about him,” said Madan Puraskar Laureate Amar Nyaupane.
Session 1 (Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Hall)
As the Nepali movie industry begins to experiment with characters and locales, do actors get time and support to groom themselves for their character? Actors Bipin Karki, Surakshya Panta and Saugat Malla talked to Journalist Swechchha Raut on the need and possibilities of prepping themselves for a character. “Each of us have our own way of delving into a character and bringing it out,” said Surakshya Panta, “So every rendition of a character will be different.”
Session 2 (Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Hall)
What kind of stories does the foreign media report about Nepal, and what is its image in the international arena? Correspondents for international publications – Deepak Adhikari and Rajneesh Bhandari – and former correspondent of CNN, Sumnima Udas, discussed the projection of Nepal in international media with AFP’s Nepal correspondent Paavan Mathema. “Even in the most mundane and exoticized issues, it is a skill to bring out fresh angles and new stories,” said Deepak adhikari, while others agreed, “Language is a tool, which we need to experiment with and keep the freshness intact.”
Session 3 (Ali Miya Hall)
As Nepal struggles with its youth travelling to the capital and abroad in search for better opportunities, a few representative youth return to their homeland to pursue their interests. Poet Saraswati Pratikshya talked to entrepreneur Ram Gurung and Actor/Director Anup Baral on their decision to return to their roots. “I felt such a longing for my hometown, its smells and its people, the hardships and happiness, that I decided to come back and invest my time here,” said Ram Gurung, and Anup Baral agreed with the need to connect to the birthplace.
Session 4 (Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Hall)
Indian Writer and Literature Expert Harish Trivedi was in conversation with Nepali Writer and Academic Sanjeev Uprety on ‘English and Vernacular Literatures in South Asia’. The duo discussed the need of translation and interaction within and outside the country, to preserve the vernacular.
Session 5 (Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Hall)
The fifth session of the day was a conversation among present and past leaders on the institutionalization of federalism – and how far people have been able to feel the governance coming close to them and their homes. Moderating the discussion was Amrit Subedi, Journalist. The discussants were Pokhara Metropolitan City’s mayor Manbahadur GC, former Chief Secretary of the Government of Nepal Somlal Subedi, and Minister Kiran Gurung.
Session 6 (Ali Miya Hall)
Based on excerpts from Amitabha Bagchi’s DSC Prize shortlisted novel ‘Half the Night is Gone,’ Co-Founding Editor of Mithila Review, Ajapa Sharma, talked to the Author about the travails and pleasures of writing about the past. Bagchi’s novel traces a family’s history beginning from pre-independence India.
Session 7 (Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Hall)
At the Kabi Shiromani Hall, Author Saurav had a solo session, explaining the history and branches of the Shivalik – or the Chure Pahad as we call it, unearthing fascinating details about its etymology and history. Watch it here:
Session 8 (Ali Miya Hall)
From 3 to 4 PM at the Ali Miya Hall, Editor and Writer Kunda Dixit talked to Author and Editor of Indian Express, Rajkamal Jha, on the state of contemporary journalism. They discussed whether the advent of the shortcut of ‘selfie journalism’ posed any threat to democracy.
Session 9 (Kabi Shiromani Lekhnath Hall)
The second-last session of day consisted of a recitation of poetry in Hindi by Poet Kuldeep Kumar, followed by ‘Manushi Bimarsha’ by Pradeep Giri, during which he held forth on women in literature.
Session 10 (Ali Miya Hall)
The practice of chaupadi (banishing girls and women to sheds during menstruation) is taking away the dignity, health and lives of many Nepali girls and women. It is time to implement practical measures to ensure that Nepali girls enjoy a secure and dignified menstruation. Discussing these measures were Journalist Menuka Dhungana from Achham, a district that sees rampant practice of chaupadi; National Human Rights Commissioner Mohna Ansari; and poet Nawaraj Parajuli. Moderating the session was Raj Sargam – the author of Chaughar – a novel on this evil practice. “I think the only way to change this tradition is to change oneself,” said Menuka Dhungana. “I believed that something bad would befall me if I didn’t follow the custom – but once I forced myself to change myself, I realized it was only superstition.”
The Nepal Literature Festival is organized by the Bookworm Foundation, with support from the IME Group.