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Desert Leaf Foundation hosts Kitaabo – children’s literature festival

February 13, 2017

Desert Leaf Foundation hosted Kitaabo – A Children’s Literature Festival at Vidhyashram International School, Jodhpur from January 19 to 21. The festival was organised with an aim to celebrate literature in its many forms and preoccupations and as an annual looked-forward-to-event in the league of other festivals such as Akha Teej or Janmashtami: ensuring pervasive people’s participation and engagement. It made great sense to host the event in Jodhpur because the gentle passivity of the Blue City is a great vehicle to transport children to the world of Kitaabo.
Maharaj Gaj Singh, Maharaja of Jodhpur, former member of parliament and a former high commissioner of India, who was the chief guest, inaugurated the festival on January 19 in the presence of Maharani Hemlataji Sahiba, Vinay Kumay Jain, and Navin Menon, chief editor Children’s Book Trust New Delhi.

Ira Sisodia, festival director along with founder members of Desert Leaf Foundation – Vikas Baliyan and Gaurav Jain welcomed the chief guest and all other guests. Elaborating on the aims and objectives of Kitaabo Festival, Sisodia said that KITAABO – The Blue City Children’s Fest is a literary festival for students in India which aims to provide a powerful platform to develop students’ passion and love for literature. It is an annual national festival that is intimate fun, thought-provoking and sometimes challenging. It aims to provide a platform which teachers can use to enthuse and inspire their students in studying Literature and to aspire to be unique among other literary festivals in using the region’s rich environmental and cultural heritage and the passions of local writers and readers.

Highlighting the goals and objectives of the festival, Sisodia said that the festival is organised with an aim to establish a flagship annual literary festival in India focusing on and celebrating Indian authors mainly involved in children literature, to share a programme that honours and utilises the nation’s rich cultural heritage, to create new opportunities for social and cultural interaction, to provide a programme of events which engages and inspires the interest of the national community in many forms of the written word, to deliver a programme unique among other literary festivals in paying homage to the national and international landscape, to set up an inclusive forum that brings together those with a common interest in the field of literature and to build a public arena for the promotion and presentation of local and regional writing.

S P Verma, member Kitaabo Organising Committee and director, VITD Meerut informed the gathering of more than 2500 audience about the Kitaabo competitions organised to celebrate Children’s Literature Fest. He said that the three Kitaabo competitions on Poem composing, Short Story Writing and Question Framing, received more than 5000 entries from 33 schools of seven states (Rajasthan, UP, Uttrakhand, Arunachal Pradesh,Haryana, Gujarat and Maharashtra). A jury of judges evaluated the entries and selected the students as winners in three categories in two languages – English and Hindi. The prize winning entries and some more selected entries from different schools are published by Desert Leaf Foundation through Vidya Prakashan, Meerut. The chief guest Maharaja Gajsingh released the five Kitaabo books entitled My Voice, Weaving Tales, Unanswered Questions, Dil ki Juban, and Katha Kahani. He also distributed the prizes to the winners.

Inaugurating the festival, Maharaja Gaj Singh lauded the efforts of Desert Leaf Foundation for organising a literature festival dedicated to children. He said, “It is a wonderful idea  to organise children’s literature festival and to provide a learning platform for children through activities, fun and theatre. Children are to be redirected towards books in this era of internet and technology.”  In the inaugural session, Maharani Hemlata shared a story in Marwari language. Latest edition of ANUBHUTI – a book of VIS was also released by the chief guest.

During the three day festival, a total of 104 workshops were organised by 42 resource persons at nine designated places named Masti Manch, Jamghat, Popcornistan, Kathapur, Fun-Kaari, Qissa Kona, Navrang Nautanki, Think Tank, and Brain Train. In addition to workshops, film shows, Doodle Wall, Comment Wall, Books Exhibition, Puppet shows, Eklavya Origami and Paper Craft Corner, Food plaza, Book Release ceremonies, meeting with authors and film directors, were the other points of attraction.

Storytellers from varied backgrounds such as Voice over Artists, traditional narrators, folklore artists, etc participated in conjunction with craftsmen, film screenings with director’s interpretation and audience dialogue, book readings, and book release ceremonies. The festival saw a turnout of over 9,000 students from 22 schools and their parents.

In the valedictory function on January 21, a book entitled “Strings of Life” authored by Boddhi Jaiin a class IX student of B D Somani International School, Mumbai was released by film producer and script writer Manish Mundra, Bollywood actor Sanjay Mishra and lyricist and story teller Varun Grover in presence of SK Jain, chairman Vidya Group Meerut and VK Jain, Chairman, VIS. It was a vibrant event that thrilled the children and imparted a lot of learning through fun activities.

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