The Jaipur Literature Festival 2023 captured the many moods of the culture vultures

Since 2006, Jaipur has annually transformed into a veritable congregation point for global literati and bibliophiles who descend in droves at the Jaipur Literature Festival at the beginning of the year. Known as the world’s most democratic and egalitarian book festival, the annual literary festival makes award-winning authors and thinkers from Ivy League Universities accessible to the public for five days, encouraging them to attend sessions and talks that champion freewheeling conversations, thought-provoking discussions and eye-opening discourse between Reader and writer. Although it started purely as a literature festival 17 years ago, the Jaipur Literature Festival has grown to become the nucleus of the Pink City’s cultural calendar around which other events are planned—the overlapping Jaipur Art Week, for example, which concluded yesterday, saw makeshift galleries pop up all over the city, featuring new and established artists from Rajasthan and beyond.

The Jaipur Literature Festival describes itself as part-circus, part-postgraduate seminar and part-revolutionary assembly; and sure enough, a glittering ensemble of 288 speakers participated in the literary event that was held between January 19 and January 23 this year. A few of these included last year’s International Booker Prize Winner for Tomb of Sand Geetanjali Shree, Gulzar, Booker Winner Bernardine Evaristo, Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Shobhaa De, Shabana Azmi, Javed Akhtar, Shashi Tharoor, Aanchal Malhotra, Amish Tripathi, filmmaker Onir, Nobel laureate Abdulrazak Gurnah, and former Special Director of the Indian Intelligence Bureau Amarjit Singh Dulat. In addition, the festival Hosted a pleasurable Heritage Evening at the historic Amer Fort with a soul-stirring performance by Āhuti—the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble in Collaboration with the Chitrasena Dance Company, one of the leading practitioners of the Jaipur Gharana of Kathak. The well-known Jaipur Music Stage brought together a motley crew of beloved Musicians including Pakshee, Lifafa, Peter Cat Recording Co. and Kabir Café.

Last year, the Jaipur Literature Festival also traveled to the eco-luxury resort Soneva Fushi in the Maldives for a 10-day edition of Gala celebrations, workshops, music, culture and live performances; all set against the pristine backdrop of the island getaway which encourages slow living. The special extension is set to return this year as well—bigger and better—in light of all Covid restrictions being lifted (and hopefully staying that way).

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