St. Xavier’s at Jaipur Literature Festival
A team of 14 enthusiastic English Literature students of the third year, and 2 teachers from St. Xavier’s College, Mapusa participated in the maha kumbh of literature, Zee Jaipur literature festival which is considered the grandest literary festival in the world. Against the backdrop of Rajasthan’s spectacular historical heritage, the festival opened at the colourfully decorated Diggi Palace amidst a cultural extravaganza of traditional music and dance. Pico Iyer’s keynote address set the tone for the event.
Some of the iconic names in the arts engaged in literary debate and dialogue over five days. The Xavierites returned enriched from meeting and listening to acclaimed novelists, poets, journalists, politicians, actors, thinkers and critics. These included Homi K. Bhabha, Shashi Tharoor, Amy Tan, Michael Ondaatje, Mira Nair, Nicholas Shakespeare, Margaret Alva, Tom Stoppard, Anurag Kashyap, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Helen Fielding, Sharmila Tagore, Soha Ali Khan, Vishal Bharadwaj, Zakir Husain, Sudha Murthy, Mira Nair. The students were especially delighted with the opportunity to interact with Rupi Kaur the social media phenomenon. The 25-year-old Indian-born Canadian ‘instapoet’ performed to an ecstatic audience shouting out titles of their favourite poems for her to declaim. Sessions featuring Tharoor, Zakir Hussain, Nawazuddin Siddiqui speaking about his forthcoming movie Manto, were packed. Children’s author, Julia Donaldson, enthralled the audience with a performance of her book ‘Gruffalo’. Another great crowd puller was the session by Helen Fielding on the Bridget Jones novels as well as the talk by Shobha De.
Among the many conversations at the festival was the Oxford Dictionary announcement of Aadhar as the Hindi word for the year, echoing the zeitgeist of 2017. It beat words like notebandhi, mitron, vikas and bahubali. The music sessions at the festival showcased prominent names from World as well as Indian music.
Evenings were occupied by visits to some of the awe-inspiring monuments that Jaipur is famous for. These included the Hawa Mahal, Jantar Mantar, Amber fort, and Nahargarh Fort which gave one a spectacular aerial view of the capital. The students were also amazed by the sight of a mummified Egyptian preserved at the Albert Hall Museum.
Principal Fr. Dr. Jeronimo D’Silva was pleased that the students had an enriching experience and learnt valuable lessons in the course of their trip. A student Ms. Desiree D’Souza, states: “The last day was a mix of happiness and sadness. Happy because we were excited to return to our families after an entire week away from them. Sad because we would miss the city, and of course, the company of each other that made this trip a lasting memory. No one could believe that an entire week had gone by. JLF was not just an intellectual treat. It was an experience in every way. We learnt a lot, not only from the festival, but also from each other”.