A Taj litfest to project literary heritage of Braj

Agra: Renowned writers like Ruskin Bond and Shobha De, director Muzaffar Ali, humourist Surendra Sharma and scores of literary luminaries from the Braj area will be star attractions at a three-day literature festival to be held here early next year.

“Let me tell you, it will be unique, different and enriching in many ways. The land of Ghalib, Nazeer, Mir, Surdas and Amir Khusrau has long remained isolated and virtually ignored in terms of recognition of the rich literary heritage,” Harvijay Singh Bahia, chief of the organising committee, told.

The festival, from Feb 1 at the sprawling campus of 167-year-old St Peter’s College, will project the contribution of the writers, poets, cultural artistes of the Braj region – spanning Mathura, Agra, Aligarh, Etah and Firozabad – on the national canvas, he added.

“We will have celebrated author Reginald Massey from London, former ambassador to US Meera Shankar – both have links with Agra – Ankur Chawla, actor Harsh Chhaya and many more big names,” Bahia added.

Ruskin Bond will be here in Agra for three days and will hold workshops for budding writers and students, Bahia said.

“This will be a great inspiration for them. Soon we will be launching a website which will give all the information and list the literary luminaries of Braj Mandal. We want to tell the world that Agra is not just stones but also art, literature, entrepreneurship, faith, and everything that enriches life,” Bahia added.

The festival will begin with a presentation by Muzaffar Ali on 30 years of his classic movie “Umrao Jaan”.

“His team is working on it and will present something that will be as memorable as the monuments in the city,” said Ashok Jain, a member of the organising committee.

Syed Iftikar Jafrey, another organising committee member, told IANS that the Taj city has been the centre of Urdu adab (litarture) with three of the pillars – Mir, Ghalib and Nazeer Akbarabadi – associated with Agra.

“The contribution made by local poets and writers in Urdu needs to be brought to the notice of the literary world. We have big names coming for the festival and I think it will be a milestone in many ways.”

Another feature will be discussions on “instant literature” – generated through platforms like Facebook and other social media. Blogs said cyber journalist Piyush Pandey will coordinate the sessions.

“The era of e-books, alternative media and various interactive platforms has just begun impacting popular literature. The internet has democratised the information world as today’s writer is editor, publisher and lay-out artist-cum-designer,” Pandey told IANS.

Along with the main sessions, the festival will see a cartoons exhibition, a display of little magazines, mushairas, theatre workshops, art in action sessions and musical shows.

The memorials of Surdas, Mirza Ghalib and Nazeer Akbarabadi will be lit up during the festival.

“A number of book releases and poetry reading sessions are planned. We intend to project the good works by young authors. And there will be a whole mandi of publishers. We have three main halls and a gurukul vaatika and two galleries,” Father John Ferreira, principal of St Peter’s College, told.


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