KERALA

Thunchan festival gets under way

TIRUR JAN. 28. Grave concern at the growing consumerist culture pervading literature and the imperative need for authors to address contemporary themes that are crucial to man's survival were repeatedly emphasised by speakers at the inaugural session of the annual Thunchan festival here today.

Emphasising the significance of Thunchan festival, Jnapith laureate and chairman of the Thunchan Memorial Trust, M.T. Vasudevan Nair, pointed out that it was festivals like the one being held in Tirur which kept language alive and vibrant.

He pointed out that in spite of laws introduced by the British rulers to popularise English as a substitute for local languages, several languages spoken by a small number of people continued to flourish. In fact, Malayalm prospered by assimilating the richness of English language during the period of British rule.

He spoke of a Nepali youth he met a few years ago who earned his daily bread as a painter of signs but wrote poetry for the sheer love of his mother tongue. ``Languages owe their existence to such sincere literary efforts,'' he remarked.

The five-day Thunchan festival was inaugurated by the noted writer, Manoj Das, who writes with equal felicity both in English and Oriya, saying the Thunchan festival and similar literary events play a key role in keeping lofty literary traditions alive at a time when the great bulk of Indian literature had become consumeristic.

In the absence of efforts to promote inspired literature and works meant to promote a cause or an ideology, there was a big risk of fake literature wielding tremendous influence over the ordinary reader. Mr. Das, a winner of the Saraswati Literary Prize and several other prestigious literary awards and a resident of Auroville, said Sri Aurobindo's epic Savithri was being recognised as a great epic by westerners.

The former Education Minister, E.T. Mohammed Basheer, who presided, appealed to writers in the State to educate the ordinary Malayali to overcome his tendency to blame globalisation for everything that was not to his liking. He said the loud protests now heard against proposals to sell river water were meaningless as there were no protests when these rivers were being killed inch by inch by local gangs indulging in illegal sand-mining.

Abdu Samad Samadani, MP, in his keynote address, emphasised the need for writers to focus on issues that were of critical importance to the survival of humanity and pointed that these constituted the principal theme of many bestsellers in foreign countries.

He blamed TV programmes for what he believed to be a perceptible decline in moral and social values and hoped the writers would address the concern of the modern man living in a unipolar world and strive for restoration of lost values in society.

A number of well-known authors from within and outside the State have reached the Thunchan Memorial at Tirur to attend the five-day festival. A South Indian Poetry festival that followed the inaugural session was inaugurated by Akkitham and a seminar on modern trends in South Indian poetry featuring Manushyaputran (Tamil), S. Manchunath (Kannada), N. Venugopal (Telugu), Prakash Padgaokar (Konkani), Vamana Nandavara (Tulu) and D. Vinaychandran was inaugurated by O.N.V. Kurup.

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