Dehradun: The Sixth Edition of the Valley of Words began with music from the mountains resonating in the Dehradun Valley. Under a bright blue sky, the colours of VoW 2022 set the perfect stage for authors, panelists, winner, artists, guests, judges and jury, students and teachers who all came together to celebrate the written word.
The music of Dhol Damaun set things in motion as the Hon’ble Governor of Uttarakhand, Lt. Gen (Retd) Gurmit Singh gave his inaugural speech. This was followed by him launching the Valley of Words 2022 ‘First Day Cover’, along with launching editions of the magazines The Book Review and Tadbhav, which carry English and Hindi reviews of all the forty shortlisted books under eight categories of 2022. Present on the stage were Director of Uttarakhand Cultural Department, Beena Bhatt, Uttarakhand Chief Post Master General Amitabh Kharkwal and NABARD Director Bhaskar Pant. In his Inaugural Speech, Hon’ble Governor spoke about the power of words and his association with VoW. He encouraged the audience to write and read and elaborated on the power of the written word. He also spoke in detail about the value of being able to think deeply and engage with topics. “If you see the word “speak” and remove the first letter S, then you have “peak” and that is where words can take you. Speak when you must, and speak well!” His rousing speech about the importance of engendering a spirit of service was well-received by all.
This was followed by a wonderful dance performance and mime by students from the Bajaj School of Learning who got everyone’s feet tapping and left a smile on the audience long after their performance got over.
Post the Inaugural session, there were multiple panels in the Plenary Lawn, including the finale of the College Mantrana debate, Iti Nritya by classical dancers Nirmuktha Arun and Esha Nanal, followed by a Kavi Sammelan and Mushaira, a detailed discussion on Film Industry as the Growth Driver of Uttarakhand’s Economy with Satish Sharma, Kunal Malla, and Abhinav Kumar; the last event here was a soulful musical performance by artistes from the ITC Sangeet Research Academy.
Simultaneously, sessions were being held at Hall of Words with the launch of Nirmal Kanti Bhattacharjee’s translation of the late Samresh Bose’s book In Search of Pitcher of Nectar in conversation with Deepankar Aron and N Ravishanker, followed by a scintillating discussion between Satish Aikant and VoW Awardee Rudrangshu Mukherjee on his book Tagore and Gandhi: Walking Alone, Walking Together. Professor Mukherjee was also the Chair of the next session, which was a conversation on the Indian texts which have shaped our nation, between panelists Raja Sekhar Vundru, Pradeep Singh, Kulbhushan Kain, Ira Pande, Badrinarayan, and Sanjeev Chopra.
There was something for the younger audience as Ratna Manucha and Richa Jha had a book discussion on When Mommy was a Little Girl with VoW Awardee Mamta Nainy chairing the session. Poet Rati Agnihotri brought together a galaxy of hand-picked poets from Dehradun: Kaushik Ghosh, Deepanjali Singh, Sharmishtha, Bitopi Dutta, Vrinda Rattan, Lakshika Bajaj, and Samridhi Juyal, to participate in a beautifully curated Poetry Café.
To add on to the various activities, there was a third venue for Conversations in the Valley. A set of discussions were scheduled on the 12th of November. The first event held there was the conversation on the book, Yaadon Ke Bikhre Moti: Batwaare ki Kahaniya, which is a translation of Aanchal Malhotra’s Partition-based book. Sushil Upadhyay was in conversation with translator Brig Kamal Nayan Pandit, and the session was chaired by Anil Raturi. Following this was a book launch session for Uttarakhand ki Patrakarita: Swatantrata Andolan se Vartaman Tak. Upendra Kumar Sharma chaired the session, and M.R. Saklani was in conversation with Arun Pratap Singh and Jitendra Anthwal.
Dr. Anita Jain Bhatnagar brought her remarkable collection of books: Dilli Ki Bulbul, Baal Kahani Chauri Chaura, and Miss Sehat, which were launched and discussed with Palak Jha, Sachin Chauhan and Anjali Rana. Lovers of Hindi literature were in for a treat as the organisers organised a conversation on contemporary writing in Hindi. Celebrated authors Mamta Kalia, Budhinath Misra, Akhilesh discussed the subject with Sushil Updhyay. The conversation was followed by book launches of Pratinidhi Kavitayeen by Badrinath Narayan.
Gunje Anhad Naad by Geeta Gairola was another book launched on the first day of the festival and the author conversed with Abhishekh Aggarwal in a session chaired by Avinash Joshi. Author L. Aruna Dhir talked about her book Hotel Adventures with the Stars, with Ira Chauhan and Pooja Marwah. This session concluded the first day of VoW International Literature and Arts festival.
NABARD organized a special exhibition featuring several stalls and the GI products of Uttarakhand, including the beautiful art form Aipan. Iti Lekh exhibition showcased multiple book stalls. And the Iti Smriti showcased sustainable VoW Memorabilia products, along with volunteers that set up their own exhibition showcasing their artistic endeavours!