Literary fests have had a history of usually being held in metropolitan cities with adequate access and network for people to reach and connect. Breaking past this trope, the Wayanad Literary Festival sets the motion for a movement by taking literature to the mountains.
The remote village of Mananthavady in Wayanad will host a literary fest that will carry discussions on literature, storytelling, and recitations by artists from different parts of the country. It is to be held by the last week of December and will script a new chapter in the history of literary festivals in India.
Land Of Rich History
According to poet and critic Kalpetta Narayanan, literature has never been a primary concern for the people of Wayanad. Since they have always fought for survival, only a few had the luxury of indulging in artistic expressions. This is one of the reasons attributed to why only a few writers and artists are seen from Wayanad.
Despite the hardships faced by the rural community in Wayanad, they continue to hold a close connection with the oral tradition of the tribals. It has yet to be entirely retrieved but constitutes a huge part of their identity even today. Talking about their rich culture, Kalpetta also mentioned the Edakkal cave engravings and noted that their meanings continue to puzzle many historians and art enthusiasts.
Reflecting on the same idea, Midhun Manuel Thomas, a young filmmaker and native of Wayanad, said, "Wayanad has not seen so many writers and cultural artists visiting for one event, and the WLF is going to be like our ValliyurKavu festival of literature and ideas."
Kerala Sahitya Akademi president and renowned poet K Satchidanandan was also among those celebrating the decision. He said, "A festival's arrival to Wayanad, the land of black gold, soothing mist, evergreen forest, and its rich oral storytelling tradition is long-awaited."
Satchidanandan officially inaugurated the WLF website, while author P.Valsala launched the Twitter page. She also commented about her liking for the place and said that the village needed significant "modern-day opportunities like the WLF." Jefrin Tom, the media manager of the WLF, noted that the selection of Edavaka grama panchayat in Wayanad as the venue would mark the first of its kind in the country as such festivals are always seen in metro cities. It would open the doors to more such opportunities and experiences in rural villages.
Artists Collective At The Fest
The entire panchayat is gearing up to showcase one of the biggest events of the year. The Edavaka panchayat president, H B Pradeep, said it would exponentially boost the district's tourism potential. The ward councillors who have known the village inside out have been selected as the chairpersons of various sub-committees, and they would be arranging a differential experience to help people understand the rich culture of the district. One such programme put together is the 'Vayal Nadatham', where people can enjoy the experience of walking through the paddy fields arranged as part of the fest.
The event will also see a long list of curators, including booker Prize winner Arundhati Roy, novelist Paul Zacharia, agriculturalist, and story teller Cheruvayal Raman, actor-screenwriter-director Madhupal, investigative journalist and author Josy Joseph, among many other celebrated individuals. The biggest-ever literary fest organised by a panchayat in India is set to welcome literary enthusiasts on December 29 and 30.
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