Assam: Tezpur Lit Fest 2022 kicks off at NERIWALM campus

Tezpur: The first edition of the ‘Tezpur Lit Fest 2022’ kicked off on Friday at the North Eastern Regional Institute of Water and Land Management (NERIWALM) campus at Tezpur in Assam in the august presence of celebrated authors and invited dignitaries from the region.

Chorus performance by the members of Tezpur Academy of Literature and Education

Organized by Tezpur Academy of Literature and Education (TALE), the Tezpur Lit Fest 2022 is the first-ever literature festival of the town, which is popularly known as a cultural and literary hub of Assam.

The 3-day literature festival, which will culminate on December 11, seeks to highlight the relevance of literature and the importance of reading among youth while promoting the joy of reading books.  

Dr. Dhrubajyoti Bora and Deba Kumar Mishra lighting the ceremonial lamp in the inaugural event

The inaugural program of the festival was attended by chief guest Dr. Dhrubajyoti Bora, vice chancellor, Srimanta Sankardeva University of Health Sciences; guest of honour Madhurjya Baruah, chief general manager, OIL; Deba Kumar Mishra, deputy commissioner, Sonitpur; Dr. Pradip Kumar Bora, director, North Eastern Regional Institute of Water and Land Management (NERIWALM) including Sahitya Akademi Award winner Mamang Dai; author Dhruba Hazarika; author, translator and columnist Mitra Phukan; cartoonist Pankaj Thapa; author Ankush Saikia, among others.

Dr Sarita Sarma, convener, Tezpur Lit Fest 2022, welcomed everyone to the literature festival. She thanked all the members for their hard work and commitment to making the festival a reality. “It was a dream which was nurtured over the years to make it a reality,” she said and thanked the members of the advisory board as well as the members of the organising committee.

Deba Kumar Mishra, deputy commissioner, Sonitpur, in his speech highlighted the historical and cultural significance of Tezpur and how it is a meeting ground of religious, historical, and archaeological importance.  He referred to the fest as a new addition to the culture of Tezpur and appreciated the organisers for making it a reality. “Literature is the reflection and the expression of a society and I am extremely happy to be part of this fest,” he said. He also expressed his interest in organising a book fair simultaneously with the fest from next year.

Chief guest Dr. Dhurbajyoti Borah, vice chancellor, Srimanta Sankardeva University of Health Sciences, in his inaugural speech spoke on the theme of the Tezpur Lit Fest 2022, which is ‘Blurring Boundaries’, through a short exploration of two of his previous novels that are fictions based on the modern history of Tezpur. He explained why serious literature needs to explore such themes today.

“The author and his work are always situated in history. Every fictitious creation has reference to history that has happened or will happen in the future,” he added, highlighting the influence of history on literary creations.

He also said a literature festival is more than just a way to showcase authors and their works. It also brings forward various issues of society. “So, in a way, this is both a celebration and a serious introspection into our tradition, heritage and creativity,” he added.

In his speech, Madhurjya Baruah, chief general manager, OIL congratulated the organising team for bringing the concept of a literary festival to Tezpur and inspired ‘Tezpur Lit Fest 2022’ to go up to the ranks of Jaipur Literature Festival. He also urged the district administration and the Assam government to take the festival in their official capacity so that it grows bigger and better, while also declaring Tezpur to be the best place to organise it.

Authors Ankush Saika, Dhruba Hazarika, Mamang Dai and Mitra Phukan

Prof. Ramesh Ch. Deka, vice-Chancellor, Cotton University, in his keynote address blurred the boundaries between science and literature as he highlighted the contributions of Radhika Ram Dekiyal Phookan, son of Anandaram Dhekial Phukan, whom he referred to as the first Indian to write a research paper in an academic journal of Chemistry. He also presented the audience with a walkthrough of how Prof. Deka along with his colleagues Dr. Gaurangi Maitra, Prof. Ranjit Kumar Dev Goswami, and Samir Kumar Sutradhar retrieved the doctorate degree certificate of this 19th-century Assamese chemist from the University of Heidelberg, Germany.

The inaugural session was followed by a panel discussion on ‘Challenging Confirmation Bias: Blurring Boundarieswhere the writers openly spoke and discussed issues of identity, culture, history, literature, and the art of writing itself.

The participants of the discussion were authors Mitra Phukan, Mamang Dai, Dhruba Hazarika, Ankush Saikia with Dr. Sravani Biswas, HoD, Department of English, Tezpur University, and Dr. Sarita Sharma as moderators of the session.

The main attraction of the inaugural day was a conversational session with Bollywood actor-director-writer and theatre artiste Rajat Kapoor. The session was moderated by Syed Zarir Hussain, Chief Managing Editor, News Live and the audience took an active part in it.

Rajat Kapoor spoke about how he came to films and acting, where his passion lies, the current state of cinema in India, and also about his experience of working in an Assamese film. Offering his suggestions to young and upcoming writers, he said, “A writer is one who finishes his book. So, do not wait for inspiration and finish the first draft. It’s only a draft, you can always go back to it and revise.”

Zarir Hussain In Conversation with Rajat Kapoor

The Day 2 and Day 3 line ups of the literary extravaganza include an interactive session with Dr. Anuradha Sarma Pujari, panel discussions on Assamese literature with Yeshe Dorjee Thongchi, Dr. Arindam Borkotoky, Nang Ajanta Buragohain, and Prathana Saikia. Other programmes include meet the author with Sarmistha Pritam, Mamang Dai, and Mitra Phukan; panel discussion with Janice Pariat, Antar Atreya, Dhurba Hazarika and Mitra Phukan; laughlines with Pankaj Thapa; interactive session on creative writing with Janice Pariat; and quizzing with Robin Kalita; storytelling session with Sikhi Choudhury and multilingual poetry sessions along with other cultural programmes.

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