By Tania Saili Bakshi
Dehradun, 13 Nov: The 2nd day of the Sixth Edition of the Valley of Words Literary Festival, today, began with soulful recital of Raga Bhatiyaar and Raga Bhairavee at the Morning Raga session by artists of ITC Sangeet Research Academy.
Taking cue from a successful run the previous day, authors, panelists, artists, guests, judges and jury, students and teachers returned to celebrate the written word.
The wide octaves and high crescendo of the schedule left little to the imagination as there was something for every age group to choose from.
Six finalists had-it-out at The National School Debate on the topic, “Ukraine war is for economic dominance rather than a regular war.”
The session by VoW Awardee Mamta Nainy in conversation with Ratna Manucha had a full audience with finalist for the Book Reading session Aaryav Verma from Mondrian High and student of Doon International School, Junior Wing, enacting Aai and I on stage.
VoW Awardee Neelaskhi Singh’s book Khela was discussed by Anjum Sharma who highlighted the nuances of the book.
Classical dancers Vikiraj Kadale and Prashita Surana left the audience spellbound with their performance during Iti Nritya, a classical dance competition curated by Shalini Rao, an acclaimed dancer herself.
In a session chaired by Sharmila Bhartari, Dr Sanjeev Chopra, Festival Director, discussed Amader Shantiniketan with VoW Awardee Ira Pande, while Someshwar Pandeya discussed Jeete Ji Allahabad with award winning author Mamta Kalia in a session chaired by Director, IIP, Dr Anjan Rai.
The Military History and Strategy knowledge vertical curated a session around Living Legends of Dehradun: Lt Gen Shakti Gurung; Lt Gen PJS Pannu; Vir Chakra awardee Brig JNS Bisht; and Col DPK Pillay. This was followed by a discussion on Air Commodore Nitin Sathe’s book, War Stories: 1971-1999 with Maj Gen PS Dahiya and Ira Chauhan.
Simultaneously, Mona Verma’s book The Daivya Sutras was discussed with Dr Harshali Singh in a session chaired by Avinash Joshi. Author Venu Arghari Dhingra convened a reading from ‘Our World: A Symphony of Drabbles by Three Generations’ with mother and daughter duo author Ruchi Ranjan and Ishika Ranjan.
Students of Him Jyoti School preformed ‘Deepdaan’, the play selected in the finals of the Iti Natya vertical which the audience enjoyed. The Hall of Words came alive with Valley of Words’ VoX Populi: A Parliamentary Debate, at which MPs from across the political spectrum came together virtually for a pre-recorded conversation, convened by Dr Amna Mirza.
There were two back-to-back book launches: Indian Mythology through Classical Dance and Kathak Lok: Mandir, Parampara Aur Iteehas by Shovana Narayan and Geetika Kalha.
Shekhar Gupta and Sanjeev Chopra in conversation with Governor of Kerala Arif Mohammed Khan brought to the table, Text, Context and National Interest. Governor Arif Mohammed Khan talked about making an Ideal Society through eternal values. As stated in the Bhagwat Geeta, saying “Humanity should be our Religion and every Human should be our God, this world should be our Temple and doing good to fellow Humans should be our Prayer.”
While the session Legends of Doon started with a book launch on Dehradun’s own Rash Behari Bose by Prasun Roy, Historian and Author Pradeep Singh and Kulbhushan Kain along with Prasun Roy shared insights about legendary Rash Behari Bose, a revolutionary freedom fighter and the founder of the Indian Independence League. They also spoke about MN Roy, an Indian revolutionary, radical activist and political theorist, as well as a noted philosopher in the 20th century at a session chaired by Anthropologist Dr Lokesh Ohri. The Hall of Words curated a session around Author Shiv Kunal Verma’s book, Life of an Industani, that was introduced and discussed with Sana Durrani and Anoop Seth, chaired by RP Devgan.
Latest from the pen of Ruby Gupta, The Secret of Leifeng Pagoda, was launched with author Bijoya Sawian chairing the session. Dr Shachi Negi discussed the book with the author. The Making of a Book Bhartiya Vidhya Bhavan (BHAVAN) in Dehradun, a topic close to the heart of valley authors Aloke Lal, Maanas Lal and Arvindar Singh was discussed at great length.
The Sixth Edition of the Valley of Words, Literature and Arts Festival came to a befitting end with a Garhwali Dance performance by college students followed by felicitation of the Valley of Words 2022 winning authors presided over by renowned journalist Shekhar Gupta, who congratulated the winners saying that they had earned it and enriched us by their work and presence. He also added that, “in its sixth year, now, Valley of Words is already an institution.”
Abhinav Kumar, DG, Information, Uttarakhand Government and ADG to the Chief Minister, Pushakar Singh Dhami, stated, “Dehradun has a critical mass that is interested in Art, Literature and performing arts and that is why the Uttarakhand government is committed and will continue to support the Valley of Words.”
DGP, Uttarakhand, Ashok Kumar described how Valley of Words had worked over the past six years in bringing Dehradun on to the literary circuit. He wished the organisers many more successful runs.
Signing off, one of the Board Members of Valley of Words, Robin Gupta summed it up saying, “The roots of the festival being firmly based in scenic Dehradun have held aloft and carried forward the light of literary awakening in Uttarakhand.”
By Tania Saili Bakshi