Jorhat, Feb. 3: An eight-day book festival organised by Oitijya Majuli, an NGO, at Keshab Bora Kshetra at Kamalabari in Majuli island began today with NASA award-winner innovator Uddhab Bharali inaugurating the fair.
President of the organisation Tilak Sarmah told this correspondent that the response received in the first book fair held in 2010 had prompted them to hold a second one on the Brahmaputra island. To attract visitors there will be cultural programmes in the evenings.
Sarmah said the aim of terming the book fair as “book festival” is to highlight the importance of the event.
Because of limited water transport link to the island, availability of books was “very less” compared to other places. Sarmah said the aim is not only to develop reading habits among people but also provide opportunities to the publishing houses of the state and outside Assam to participate in it and feel that there is a good market on the island.
Over 20 publishing houses, mostly from the state, have set up stalls selling a range of books — from Assamese and English literatures to religious texts and books on science and other topics.
“In order to attract a large number of visitors, especially the younger generation, a number of events like quiz contests, drawing and story-telling competitions besides poetry recitals will be organised on the sidelines of the eight-day festival,” Sarmah said. He added that the story-telling competition would be organised to promote the traditional art of story-telling which was very much prevalent in the state when children used to listen to stories from their parents and grandparents.
He said the art of storytelling was passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth but of late the habit seemed to be declining because of fast pace of life.
Promod Chandra Tamuly, editor of children’s magazine Mouchaq in Assamese and president of Heritage Assam, an NGO, was the chief guest at the inaugural function. He later conducted story-telling competitions. Heritage Assam is associated with a Unicef project for promoting story-telling among children in the tea gardens to develop their language skills.
Sarmah said another feature of the literary festival would be a workshop on the art of putting make-up on actors. He said Majuli is famous for bhaonas — dramas on religious themes propagated by Srimanta Sankardev — as it is the seat of Vaishnavite culture.
The president of the organising body said on February 9, an awareness programme on climatic changes under the name “Sensitisation programme on climate and weather-related issues” would be organised. Scientists from North East Institute of Science and Technology, Assam Engineering Insti- tute and Assam Science Technology and Environment Council will participate in the meet.