The Ghummakkad Narain - Travelling Literature Festival concluded in Dehra Dun on 23 August 2019. The tenth edition of the festival reached out to more than a 1000 children in the city. The festival is organised in the memory of Thakur Vishva Narain Singh who was a literateur, writer and the father of Braille literature in India.
The festival was addressed by writer Deepa Agarwal who gave a sneek peak into the world of writing and collecting stories. Tomasaz & Zofia showed the film on Warsaw Uprising by the Polish children which generated a lot of curiosity from the children. Shaguna Gahilote narrated stories from her book, Curious Tales from the Himalayas. Historian and author Parvati Sharma took children in a ride back in history talking about stories of Babur & the 1857 uprising. Atul Sethi took the kids on an adventurous journey of the Magic in Mussoorie.
‘As we look back at our journey of ten years we’ve reached out to so many children from all over India and from various economic strata. Helping establish libraries & training teachers. It’s been a very fulfilling journey as we managed to kindle a spark amongst the young minds just as Dr A P J Abdul Kalam had asked us to do when he’d attended the first festival’ said Rachna Bisht, the festival organiser & co-Director.
Ghummakkad Narain was the first literature festival in Dehra Dun but its focus was children. The idea of getting children attracted to literature has remained core to the festival and perhaps why it still remains the only children’s festival in the Uttarakhand.
‘History has so many points of view & the people especially the children must be exposed to diverse ideas’ said Parvati Sharma the writer historian, Sharma in her sessions at the Jaswant Modern School told children about the stories of Mughals and the 1857 uprising. A slide show of the illustrations from her book added an interesting element to the session & made the characters come alive.
‘I have been fascinated by comics & have a huge collection of rare comics’ said Atul Sethi who talked to children about the history of comics & even showed them his collection. Magic in Mussoorie' is his first book in a comic book series about the adventures of two friends in the Garhwal Himalayas.
‘Stories have an instant connection with people. While performing at the Welham Girls School one could see how these children were transported to another world simply from the spinning of words. And even though this was perhaps their first encounter with a storyteller for many children they had an instant connect with the ancient art’ said master storyteller Shaguna Gahilote who is on the verge of bringing out her second collection of stories with her sister Prarthana Gahilote this winter.
‘For us this is a unique experience. Coming to India & showing the film to Indian students. We’d like to travel to other schools showing them the story of Polish children’ said Zofia about their interaction with the students.
‘I sometimes feel that students in smaller towns are shy to ask questions but once the pandora’s box is opened. They have so many questions. I thoroughly enjoyed the sessions’ said Deepa Agarwal.
The festival is organised every year by the Gahilote sisters Rachna, Prarthana & Shaguna in the memory of their father Thakur Vishva Narain Singh who was a very well known personality of Dehra Dun & touched many lives through his work in Braille, journalism & as a social worker. His legacy is continued by his daughters. Singh’s wife Smt Sushila Devi was also present at the festival to encourage the work and children.
The festival now moves to Delhi where the 12th edition of Kathakar- International Storytellers Festival (part of Ghummakkad Narain) will be held from 11 to 13 October 2019. Kathakar is India’s first & only oral storytelling fest.