When a far-flung capital city of a northeastern state becomes the venue for a national literature festival, it’s certainly something to take note of. “And a reason to celebrate,” says Dr Kekhrie Yhome, President, The Kohima Institute, adding that the said festival will “bring life” to the cultural scene of Kohima.
In October, in collaboration with The Kohima Institute, Delhi-based Bookaroo Festival of Children’s Literature will hold its debut Northeast edition over two days. Arguably India’s first festival of children’s literature, Bookaroo is the brainchild of Delhi-based Swati Roy and M. Venkatesh and UK-based Jo Williams. Since 2008, it has travelled to six cities (Kuching in Malaysia, Bengaluru, Srinagar, Jaipur, Delhi and Mumbai) and has reached 45,000 children and their parents.
“We had been thinking about the Northeast for long, but we had not found a local partner,” says Venkatesh, adding that they tied up with the The Kohima Institute — a private research institute — last year. “It has been only possible because of Dr Kekhrie’s enthusiasm,” he adds.
Dr Kekhrie, who is a former school headmaster, predicts that the festival — which is a ‘first-of-its-kind’ in the region — will have a positive impact on the children of Nagaland. “There are not many children’s writers from Nagaland,” he says. The event, slated for October 25-27, will bring a selection of children’s authors, illustrators, poets, performers and storytellers from around the country and will feature workshops and “hands-on activities” for kids. The line-up includes children’s authors such as Rituparna Ghosh, Roopa Pai and Kavitha Mandana, as well as award-winning Naga author Easterine Kire and spoken word artiste Parnab Mukherjee, among others.
“This is a great initiative, mostly because in far-flung corners like ours, such cultural events are rare,” says Dr Kekhrie.