Chambal Literary Festival Celebrates Region's Heritage and Aims to Change Stereotypes

First organised in 2020, the fourth edition of the festival was held at the banks of Panchnad near Etawah.
Documentary films showcasing the beauty of the region and describing its contribution to the freedom struggle were screened on the second day of the event.
Documentary films showcasing the beauty of the region and describing its contribution to the freedom struggle were screened on the second day of the event.

Lucknow: Literature festivals being organised in cities is a common “urban cultural phenomenon” of a text–public sphere of cities like Delhi, Jaipur, etc. In the words of novelist Amitav Ghosh, it’s a “tamasha” because to him, books were a “refuge from a world that seemed to be at war with the very idea of an inner life”.  

However, organisation of such festivals in the ravines of the most inaccessible locations of the country is something unheard of. Unfortunately, it fails to register its presence even in the most modest media quarters. 

The three-day Chambal Literature Festival, which concluded on February 18, witnessed the congregation of litterateurs and film personalities from all across the country. 

Organised in a collaboration between Ants, a media company, and Chambal Foundation, its venue was not a swanky hotel or a grandiose auditorium. Instead, the organizers chose Panchnad, the banks of confluence of five rivers, for the event. 

The Pachnada is an area near Sindous at the border of Jalaun, Etawah and Auraiya districts of Uttar Pradesh. The five rivers, which meet here, are Kunwari, Pahuj, Yamuna, Chambal and Sind. 

The sandbeds of the venue reverberated with the speeches of personalities belonging to arts and culture. 

The three-day Chambal Literature Festival, which concluded on February 18, witnessed the congregation of litterateurs and film personalities from all across the country.
The three-day Chambal Literature Festival, which concluded on February 18, witnessed the congregation of litterateurs and film personalities from all across the country.

The Flawed Perception 

Vidya Bhushan Rawat, a Delhi-based environmental researcher and social activist, who attended the event, said, “The media has not given the complete information about Chambal. I think the atmosphere here is quite calm and is in contrast to the stories of dacoits often associated with the region.” 

CPI(ML)(L) leader Sooraj Rekha Tripathi said Chambal’s history of freedom struggle has systematically been replaced with the stories of bandits.

Documentary films showcasing the beauty of the region and describing its contribution to the freedom struggle were screened on the second day of the event. An exhibition of rare photographs, documents, newspaper clipping, letters, coins, etc. of the region was also organised. 

The guests of the event emphasised on the need to conserve the natural beauty of the region.
The guests of the event emphasised on the need to conserve the natural beauty of the region.

Environment Friendly Event 

Shah Alam Rana, the founder of Chambal Mahotsav, told The Mooknayak that the event was completely environment friendly. Not only was the festival held in the lap of nature but it also said a no to the use of plastic.

The stage was made and decorated with the help of jute, bamboo and paper, he said, adding that the use of plastic utensils was also avoided. 

“We cleaned the venue after the programme so that there is no harm to the environment of the region,” he claimed. 

Introduction of Unknown Chambal

On the concluding day of the event, a heritage walk titled ‘Beehed Safari’ was held with an aim to make people aware about the unknown or rather forgotten Chambal.  

Rana said, “We want to shed the notion that Chambal is a land of bandits and gang wars. The heritage walk reintroduced to people the region’s natural resources and flora, fauna.” 

The guests of the event emphasised on the need to conserve the natural beauty of the region. The walkers also explored the 16th century Jagammanpur Fort built on the banks of river Yamuna.

The hosts hoped that the Chambal literary festival, being organised from 2020, would boost the tourism of the region in the years to come.

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