Folk fiesta at World Book Fair

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Folk fiesta at World Book Fair

If the Surajkund Mela is showcasing folk arts, the parallely running New Delhi World Book Fair at Pragati Maidan is a celebration of folk literature. The 21st edition of the fair, organized by the National Book Trust, is themed ‘Indigenous Voices: Mapping India’s folk and tribal literature.’ On offer is a beautiful Indian village themed pavilion, over 500 titles in 15 Indian folk languages, panel discussions by Indian languages writers, workshops and even folk cultural performances.

In further good news for book-lovers, the New Delhi World Book Fair turns annual, instead of being a biennial affair, from this year. Its overjoyed director MA Sikandar informed Metrolife, “The interest of people, especially the children and youth, in books has increased manifold. Moreover, a number of such book fairs have come up which are held annually. Therefore, we felt it is our duty to serve our young patrons annually.”

“To make things more interesting, we keep a theme for our fair every time. Last year, it was ‘100 years of Indian cinema.’ This time, we have devoted it to India’s folk and tribal communities. In the race for globalization, these indigenous voices are getting lost. Some of these native groups don’t even have languages or scripts. It is important to promote books on their traditions to keep them alive.”

Accordingly, an elegant and thoughtful pavilion has been designed. It doesn’t have plastered but decorated mud walls, models of huts as built in different parts of India, pots and brass utensils, wood figures of tribal men and women and even an artiste from Bihar making Madhubani paintings.

Right at the entrance are several English titles on tribal communities in India. These include selected writings of famous anthropologist Verrier Elwin by Oxford, The Ao Naga Oral Tradition by Temsula Ao and Indian Folk Dances by Kapila Vatsyayan. Then there are books in Hindi like Purvottar Ki Adivasi Kahaniyan by Ramnika Gupta, Punjabi like Punjab De Sansi Kabeele Da Sabhyachar, Tam-il like Vakriagalin Vazhriyal (on the Vakriyar tribe) and Asomiya like Asamar Sah Sramikar Avadhan (on tea pickers). Then there are several books in Gondi (MP), Santhali (WB), Lepcha (Sikkim), Kokborok (Tripura) and other Indian tribal languages as well.

On schedule are panel discussions on Translating Tribal Literature and Visual Histories with scholars Narayan, Catherine, Mini Krishnan, Ram Rehman, Malavika Karlekar etc.. Workshops will be held on Chhau Mask Making, Pulikali Make-up and Warli Art. Besides, four cultural performances are slated to held every evening by tribes from Rajasthan (Manganiar Lok Sangeet), Assam (Bihu dance), Haryana (Ragni theatre), Kerala (Bamboo symphony), Manipur (Dhol cholom dance) etc..,

Surely, there couldn’t a more comprehensive festival of Indian folk traditions.

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