Preview The three-day Dharwad Sahitya Sambhrama, taking place in the cultural hub of Dharwad, begins on January 25. The festival brings together several Kannada minds and hopes to infuse a fresh enthusiasm in the Kannada literary realm GIRADDI GOVINDARAJ

Last year, four of us from Dharwad had gone to attend the Jaipur Literary Festival – Ramakant Joshi, Lohit Naykar, Shashidhar Narendra and me. In the three days that we spent there, we realised that only two people represented Kannada literature – Girish Karnad and H.S. Shivaprakash. The director of that Festival rightly called it “Kumbha Mela of Indian and International Writing”. There were several writers from other parts of India and abroad and needless to say that the whole affair ran into crores of rupees. For reasons obvious, most of the proceedings of the Literary Festival took place in English. It almost seemed that Indian languages had lost their voice here. Once in a while, there was a reference to Indian literatures. Somehow, one felt like an outsider in all these happenings, and each one of us were left wondering about the space for Indian languages and writing.

As we returned to Dharwad, we thought about having a literary festival in Dharwad. It was important for us that it took place in Dharwad and restrict it to Kannada literature. Jaipur Literary Festival, in a way, provided a model for our festival – we clearly knew what it shouldn’t be like.

Sameer Joshi of Manohara Granthamala took it upon himself and put forth the proposal before important writers of Dharwad. Channaveera Kanavi, G.S. Amur, M.M. Kalburgi, Veena Shanteshwar, Siddalinga Pattanashetty, and others welcomed the idea. The result of such a warm response is the Dharwad Sahitya Sambhrama Trust, which will henceforth make this literary festival an annual feature.

Dharwad has always been the cultural capital of Karnataka considering it has been home to several writers, musicians, activists and artists who have put it on the cultural map of the country through their works. Now, Dharwad has several auditoriums, and in them, all through the year, one finds literary and cultural activities taking place. The Trusts set up by the government in the name of Mallikarjun Mansur, Basavaraj Rajguru, D.R. Bendre, Alur Venkatrao have been functioning dynamically. The Karnataka Vidyavardhaka Sangha occupies centrestage through its activities.

The Dharwad Sahitya Sambhrama set out to work with a different vision. We didn’t want to make it a run-of-the mill festival and hence the three-day Utsav is packed with interviews, discussions, conversations, dialogues, so on and so forth. Around 60 writers who are seriously involved in the Kannada literary world will take part in the festival. Apart from this, there are 50 other writers who are special invitees at the Dharwad Festival. Over 300 delegates will also take part.

The main thrust of the Sahitya Sambhrama is to discuss the problems of Kannada language and literature, identify trends, the impact of technology on Kannada literature and others.

The sessions have been tailor made for teachers, students and connoisseurs of Kannada literature. Some of the topics that will open up for discussion are the corporate world and Kannada literature, the problems of Kannada criticism, the writer-critic-reader dynamics, awards and their over presence, Kannada in the Internet world, the art of storytelling, readings from biographies and autobiographies, Kannada medieval poetry among others. Apart from these formal sessions, we also want to be the bridge between writers and between the writer and the reader.

In this festival, that is unique for its Kannada-ness, we will have writers like U.R. Ananthamurthy, Channaveera Kanavi, G.H. Naik, Chandrashekar Patil, Girish Karnad, H.S. Venkatesh Murthy, Sumateendra Nadig, Veena Shanteshwara, G.S. Amur, Vaidehi, Jayant Kaikini and several others taking part.

On all the three days of the festival, books will be sold at a discount price. On January 26, Girish Karnad’s new play Benda Kaalu On Toast will be staged in a novel way. There will also be music programmes on January 25 and 26.

For those interested, there is the website which has all the details. Those who wish to participate may procure their application forms from Manohara Granthamala, Subhas Road, Dharwad – 580001. For further details, call 0836 – 2441822 or email

(The author is a renowned critic and writerTranslated by DEEPA GANESH)