Van. Shanu of the Gaden Shartse Monks works to create a sand mandala at the Jaipur Literature Festival at the Boulder Library Main Branch on Saturday. For more photos go to dailycamera.com Paul Aiken Staff Photographer Sept 16 2017
A group of Indian music performers greeted visitors entering the library. The building was embellished with a rainbow of prayer flags, mobiles and papier-maché figures in Indian clothing.
For three days, the Boulder Public Library has been transformed into a stupa of sorts as the Jaipur Literature Festival takes place throughout the weekend. Vendors are selling arts, crafts and clothing alongside authors signing their books, with the sounds of discussion vibrant in the background.
The Jaipur Literature Festival, presented by ZEE, is a 10-year-old event in Jaipur, India and has been called the “biggest free literary festival on Earth.” It draws over 300,000 attendees a year, and in 2015, Boulder was chosen for the launch of its U.S. offshoot.
“In Jaipur, we’ve seen the foundations of literature starting to crumble as people become disinterested in the written arts,” said Namita Gokhale, the festival director. “We came to Boulder to renew this interest through cultural exchange. I knew instantly that this was the perfect place to bring the festival’s values to America.”
Over 70 writers from around the world are on hand to conduct discussions, readings, musical performances and writing workshops as part of the admission-free event.
The lineup features some renowned names such as Vikas Swarup, the author of “Q & A” which provided the basis for the movie “Slumdog Millionaire”; Anne Waldman, poet and co-founder of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University with Allen Ginsberg in 1974; and Omar El Akkad, journalist and author of “American War”.
The events range on topics from India and Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, to the legacy of ancestral cultures, to the politics of feminism. All maintain a common theme of literature in joint discussions or individual sessions.
A talk on Saturday called “Spotlight” featured one of the journalists, Michael Rezendes, whose work was celebrated in Academy Award-winning movie of the same title.
He and Mukund Padmanabhan, editor of The Hindu, an English-language daily Indian newspaper, discussed investigative reporting and Rezendes’s role in uncovering a global sex scandal within the Catholic Church.
Rezendes and his team at the Boston Globe pulled the veil from what would be discovered to be a systematic cover-up within the church, and had far-reaching implications for reinvigorating and also enhancing the popular perception of investigative journalism.
Rezendes recounted a man that stood in front of the vice president’s home every day for two years holding a sign that read, “I was raped by a priest.”
“You’re entitled to your own opinions, you’re not entitled to your own facts,” Rezendes said, quoting the late U.S. senator Daniel ‘Pat’ Moynihan. “We help people attain the true facts, and that very system is under serious threat.”
Identity politics was another over-arching theme Saturday, given our times’ social climate.
“Patriot Games: Nationalism and Globalism” featured Devesh Kapur, Omar El Akkad, Mukund Padmanabhan, Yassmin Abdel-Magied and Kayhan Irani, in conversation with Ishaan Tharoor.
Many have thought the end of the nation-state was near, as the world continues to globalize at a rapid pace. However, recent developments show a resurgence of nationalism that goes against what science might call a logical trajectory.
“There are decades that feel like weeks and there are weeks where decades happen,” Abdel-Magied said. “When you’re in the eye of the storm, it’s impossible to see what direction you’re going in. The best we can do is point out what events seem to be the most important.”
The resurgence of nationalism has spelled a heightened anxiety, for many..
“If you consider yourself a citizen of the world, you’re a citizen of nowhere. This is an idea people become uncomfortable with as they feel threatened by exterior forces,” Tharoor said, as he moderated the panel.
The Jaipur Literature Festival concludes tomorrow with another day of diverse events and discussions.