VoW 2020 : 9 weeks to go!
By Jyoti Dhawan
Just as we look forward to the air turning crisp in November, we have come to count on the Valley of Words Literature and Arts Festival (VoW) to usher in the season for us. Over three days, the best writers, artists, thinkers, critics and public personalities come to visit and enliven our town of grey heads and green hedges.
The experience has grown to be unmissable for Dehradun’s sizeable, well-heeled and literary community. The town had long awaited a phenomenon that would bring together its residents, motivate a cultural exchange and fulfill its cerebral needs. And the Valley of Words has delivered just that, from wordcraft to the artisanal creativity of the Himalayas and beyond.
Speakers and guests choose from a breathtaking oeuvre: book readings, launches, interviews, debates, panel discussions, film, photography, storytelling, puppeteering , theatre, handicrafts, pottery, art, gastronomy and more. The sheer scope of engagement at the Valley of Words ensures that there is something for everyone.
Dr. Sanjeev Chopra, curator for the festival, explains the idea behind Valley of Words: “This is not a literary festival confined to one particular city or one particular language. It is a celebration of life, literature and all forms of art, be it the written word, oral tales, ballads, films, theatre, puppetry, human creation with artistic or literary ambition is welcome here.”
Into its fourth year, the festival continues to make a mark on our town and our literary and cultural appetite. Besides its literary stripes, Valley of Words has progressively embraced its role as a platform amplifying and showcasing indigenous arts and crafts. The Iti Kriti and Iti Smriti are festival events highlighting artisitic talent and craftsmanship. While Iti Kriti is wholly dedicated to skilled arts and crafts, Iti Smriti offers a wide range of Valley of Words memorabilia. For those wondering, ‘Iti’ is a Sanskrit word that loosely means completion or entirety.
The Iti Kriti exhibition space brings us the best of the craft and creative industries, while mindful of their role in bolstering the regional economy and its potential to generate livelihood opportunities. It is a vibrant platform that exhibits, promotes, celebrates and positively impacts local cottage industries by engaging with indigenous natural resources, traditional craft practices, and updating skills suited to demand and supply trends of the present times. A sincere effort is made to ensure representation from the Himalayan region.
The Iti Smriti segment presents memorabilia crafted by our in-house designer Vandana Sharma. Her distinctive and inspiring designs are embellished with hand embroidery, beads and mirrors. But truly fascinating is the fact that her creations are made out of upcycled waste materials. For each iteration of the fest, we make sure to host such myriad curiosities that draw crowds out onto the venue’s sunlit grounds. Last year, collections of indigo and kalamkari chokers, necklaces, bajubands, danglers and jhumkas became all the rage and were sold out by the second day. VoW 2020 too will see such fare.
Under the aegis of RS Tolia Forum, the Iti events are a VoW outreach initiative that supports economic and social empowerment, self-reliance, and professional development of underprivileged communities that include women daily wage labourers, jail inmates, potters and even snake charmers! Each year, we proudly provide a platform to diverse groups, sectors and organizations from various parts of the country not only so that we find inspiration, but also in the hopes that we contribute to the strengthening of local economies by generating multiple livelihood opportunities.
All this happens alongside a heightened awareness of the environmental impact of our efforts. The exhibitions are committed to promoting only regenerative, carbon negative and sustainable craft practices. Last year authors, panelists and volunteer teams were given reusable cloth lanyards. One bemused author who’d had a harrowing airport experience over her luggage gleefully suggested that her name tag would be put to use as an inimitable baggage tag to avoid future snafus! This is wholly in sync with our ethos of leaving no trace and keeping as small an ecological footprint as possible.
What’s more, in the past years the festival grounds, food courts and the exhibition and performance arenas turned out to become the space for cheerful, relaxed and more intimate interactions with distinguished panelists, authors and other visitors. However, with the pandemic playing spoilsport this year, we are compelled to organize the fest in hybrid mode, i.e. online and if possible, onsite.
That said, we welcome all individuals and organisations with sustainable not-for-profit practices interested to exhibit with us on our online portal, free of cost. This portal will open up shortly and will primarily facilitate direct contact between buyers and producers. In addition, the portal opens up a dynamic space to spark knowledge sharing of traditional art and crafts and fosters collaborations between creative entrepreneurs. It is our earnest hope that VoW’s exhibition platform becomes the preferred place for producers and customers to converge, share their feedback and transact directly, besides being a platform to promote the products and producers to the national and global audience.
Valley of Words is now officially open to the whole world to participate in the book launches, interact with authors, have a say in the debates and panel discussions. The vibrancy of the Fest will be your personal involvement from the comfort of your homes. And we promise a unique mosaic of experiences that satiate your literature and cultural sensibilities!
With an edgy line up of books and authors, debates and panel discussions on riveting topics Valley of Words is evolving a distinctive dimension in contemporary English, Hindi and Sanskrit literature. VoW is also emerging as a fest of traditional, sustainable craft with appreciable eco-creds…generating minimum waste, carbon emissions and plastics. The aim is to carve a niche in the world of literature, art and culture that encompasses diverse persuations and genres distinctive to the Doon Valley.