Literati 2023 concludes in Chandigarh - Hindustan Times
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Literati 2023 concludes in Chandigarh

BySubhashree Nanda
Nov 28, 2023 04:32 PM IST

Engaging conversations with renowned authors including Amish, Geetanjali Shree, chef Harpal Singh Sokhi marks the ending of the Chandigarh literature fest

Invigorating conversations between brilliant minds and a captivated audience kept the energy of the final day of the 11th edition of the Chandigarh International Literature Festival, Literati 2023, alive.

Bestselling author Amish (centre) and his sister and author Bhavna Roy (left) interacting with festival director and chairperson of Chandigarh Literary Society Dr Sumita Misra (IAS) during a session at Literati 2023 at Lake Club in Chandigarh (Photos: Keshav Singh/HT)
Bestselling author Amish (centre) and his sister and author Bhavna Roy (left) interacting with festival director and chairperson of Chandigarh Literary Society Dr Sumita Misra (IAS) during a session at Literati 2023 at Lake Club in Chandigarh (Photos: Keshav Singh/HT)

True to the theme this year, Celebrating Navras, the eminent panel of speakers initiated thought-provoking dialogues, interspersed with anecdotes, poetry and more, while touching upon a myriad of human emotions.

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As authors “connected, conversed and created” an environment of literary learning, Day 2 of the lit fest began with bestselling authors of the Hindi language, Mamta Kalia and Gyan Prakash Vivek in conversation with Seema Gupta in a session titled Kahaani aur Kahaanikaar, exploring the evolution of the Hindi novels, from stark idealism to urban realism, to ‘naya daur’ of contemporary Hindi novels that are experimenting with new vistas.

Spirituality, idol worship, and more

This was followed by renowned bestselling author Amish, and his sister and prominent author Bhavna Roy engaging in a riveting conversation with the literature festival director and chairperson of Chandigarh Literary Society (CLS) Dr Sumita Misra (IAS).

The brother-sister duo delivered an insightful exploration of the spiritual practices of India and of idol-worshipping cultures across the world in their session, The Power of Idols.

On the genesis of their collaboration, Amish says it was a question from a youngster at another literature fest that led to a conversation in the family as to why Indians are so defensive when it comes to idol-worshiping. And that, along with a few other factors, led to the two working together.

“At a fundamental level, we (idol-worshipers) see the entire universe as divine. We don’t see God outside of the universe. That makes us intuitively liberal; and connects us deeper to the world around us and to each other,” Amish said on being asked why ‘murti pooja’ works.

Bhavana adds that at a higher level, it is a means to attain self-understanding and a tool to channel one’s emotions. She goes on to share an anecdote from their childhood of their mother getting overwhelmed and weeping every time they would visit Goddess Tarini’s temple. “It was as if she was cleansed from within,” she said.

Chefs Harpal Singh Sokhi (centre) and Sadaf Hussain interacting with journalist Rajinder Kaur during a session at Literati 2023
Chefs Harpal Singh Sokhi (centre) and Sadaf Hussain interacting with journalist Rajinder Kaur during a session at Literati 2023

Namak-shamak and other spices…

Two dynamic chefs, Turban Tadka fame chef Harpal Singh Sokhi and popular podcast, Naan Curry’s host, chef Sadaf Hussain, whipped up delectable stories of culinary adventure with Rajinder Kaur, in the session, Gastronama: Tadka Tales, leaving the audience salivating for more.

“I firmly believe biryani has a complete organisational structure in itself. I mean, around 40-50 ingredients go into its making just like hundreds of people make an organisation,” said chef Sokhi, while talking about his book, The Biryani Leader.

He further added that when you taste a good biryani, you taste it as one flavour and not as individual flavours of the ingredients, just like an organisation is represented by one leader who embodies its essence.

On food experimentation and fusion food trends, chef Sadaf said, “With globalisation, more and more chefs are travelling and taking risks. But what’s happening is, let’s say from butter chicken, they have come up with butter chicken pizza and butter chicken samosa. But because the pizza is tasting good, everyone is ready to take credit and because the later seems a bit funky, they are like ‘yeh to humara nahin hai’.”

While both the chefs agree on the fact that experimentation is good, they are quick to add that there should be a limit to it and stuff like ‘fanta maggi’, or ‘ice cream dosa’, ‘fire paan’ and ‘chocolate golgappa’ are a big no-no!

Conversations galore

In the session Book to Booker, Booker prize winner Geetanjali Shree in conversation with Dr Gurmeet Singh talked about her love for the rich heritage of her language of choice, Hindi, and its plurality.

In the Books in Focus session, Kahani Kasheeda, a podcast by Bubbu Tir on stories inspired from life experiences and human nature, produced by Rhyvers Publishing, was released; Maj Gen Neeraj Bali talked about his new book, The Winning Culture; and author Anu Girdhar’s poetry collection, Benevolence, was released.

Market My Book’s Lipika Bhusha, eminent writer, editor and film buff Shantanu Ray Chaudhuri, and Niharika Bhuwania had an insider talk in the session, Book Business: Modern Fundas.

The audience also enjoyed the Punjab Da Biscope session, a talk that explored the essence of Punjabi cinema, with renowned filmmakers Amitoj Maan and Gabbar Sangrur in conversation with Ravee Pandher.

The fest culminated with Abhivyakti, where two leading modern-day poets, Dr Sumita Misra and National Sahitya Akademi president Madhav Kaushik, shared their poems and discussed the journey of their creative process with journalist Shayda.

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