Dalit Literature Festival: A Space for the Assertion of India’s Marginalised Writers

We witness many corporate organised literature festivals but the Capital’s first ever Dalit Literature Festival highlighted the issues and challenges faced by India’s marginalised Dalit writers.

The New Leam Staff

Dalit Literature Festival 2019

We are accustomed to literature festivals around the country and their ability to gather large audiences interested in understanding the developments in Indian literature and meet authors, thinkers and writers over book launches and discussions. However, this Sunday a one of its kind literature festival made its presence felt in the country. Yes, amidst the on-going trend of holding literature festivals we saw India’s first ever Dalit Literature Festival. The literature festival was held in New Delhi across Sunday and Monday (3rd-4th February, 2019)

The literature festival was organised by a team of interested individuals from across many institutions and associations such as the Ambedkarwadi Lekhak Sangh, the Hindi department of Kirorimal College and various other organisations. The festival received the attendance of a wide ranging audience from young scholars, students, literary activists, authors and the general public and this overwhelming response has only encouraged the organising body to keep holding such festivals in the years to come. What added to the magic of the literature festival was the fact that it had the magnetic power of bringing together a large number of people interested in the developments of Dalit literature in India and those working on the grassroots for the promotion and expansion of the literary base of this genre of literature. What must also be acknowledged is the fact that even though the literature festival was called Dalit Literature Festival it went far beyond the purview of Dalit literature alone and discussed a wide variety of themes.

In fact, the discussions and the thematic concerns of the Dalit Literature Festival spoke of the pains and anguishes of a wide variety of the subaltern ranging from women, Adivasis, tribals and the minorities. The debates and discussions that were carried out on these sensitive issues had the power to be mature and yet sensitize the audience with perspective and clarity. One of the important roles that this literature festival played was that it brought to the forefront many issues that may be missed out in the large scale, corporate sponsored literature festivals that we are more accustomed to.

This festival was organised by ordinary people and groups who have been genuinely working towards a literature of the subaltern and thus when they held this event, it had a more authentic character to it- it encouraged many ordinary, marginalised youth to work in the field of Dalit literature.  The literature festival made sure to discuss the issues faced my writers from this community but also left no stone unturned in displaying the myriad talents that people from the community possess. The display of cultural talents and the wide range of ideas that were discussed in the festival truly made the festival an enchanting experience. The nation shall be inspired by the efforts of those who organised this Dalit Literature Festival and shall organise many more such festivals in different corners of the nation.

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