The `Hay Festival,’ the annual get-together of literary figures, authors and thinkers, coming to India for the first time, was inaugurated by State Culture Minister M A Baby here today.

In his speech, Mr. Baby said Kerala, which had a rich literary tradition, was proud to host the renowned festival in the State.

National news magazine `The Week’ is hosting the event, based in Wales, as the main sponsor as part of the DC Books International Book Fair at the Kanakakkunnu palace here. The festival would conclude on November 14.

About 50 authors, thinkers and performers from the country and across the world would participate in the festival, celebrating writings from Kerala, India and around the world.

Guests who had confirmed participation in the festival include Mani Shankar Aiyar, Rosie Boycott, Bama Faustina, Bob Geldof, Namita Gokhale, Nik Gowing, Manu Joseph, Vivek Narayanan and K Satchidanandan.

For the last twenty years, Hay Festival has brought writers, musicians, film-makers and scientists together to cross cultural and social barriers and foster exchange of ideas.

Film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shashi Tharoor MP and actor Mammootty were among those present on the occasion.