Kohima, 9 February (MTNews): The first edition of the White Owl Literature and Book Fair was inaugurated by Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio today at the Plaza Zone Niathu by the park in Chumoukedima.

Nagaland CM Rio inaugurates White Owl Literature Festival & Book Fair
The White Owl Literature Festival and Book Fair resulted from a collaborative effort between The White Owl Book Lounge, Cambridge University Press, and Penguin Random House India. With the theme “Echoes of Narratives,” the festival aims to revive a passion for reading and honor the state’s rich storytelling heritage, cherished across generations.

Rio expressed that the collaboration between The White Owl, Penguin, and Cambridge University Press has given birth to a literature festival that marks a historic moment in northeast India. This unique partnership between one of the largest trade and academic publishers, Penguin and Cambridge University Press, is a testament to the power of literature in uniting diverse communities—a moment that fills us with enthusiasm and pride. He hoped that the next two days would be marked by vibrant discussions, sharing of knowledge and ideas, and an exchange of perspectives that would enrich our understanding of the pivotal role literature plays in the life of a community.

He mentioned that this year’s festival theme “Echoes of Narratives” resonate deeply with the literary heritage of Nagaland. “Our cultural richness finds expression in both oral and written forms, with storytelling being a thread that weaves us into the tapestry of our origins,” he said. The tradition of oral literature, manifested through folktales and songs, is a precious legacy that connects us to a time long before the written word emerged, he added. “It is imperative that we cherish and actively engage in the preservation of our oral literature, for it is through storytelling that we safeguard our cultural identity,” he also said.

Addressing the younger generation, Rio expressed hope that this festival would serve as inspiration to read more, write more, and actively contribute to the documentation and preservation of our vibrant literary traditions. Through this book fair, he envisioned the emergence of a thriving reading culture, one that recognizes the transformative power of literature in shaping our perceptions of the world. He urged them not only to extract information from books but also to seek to understand and appreciate the diverse narratives that make up the fabric of our society.

Rio further appreciated Viketuno Rio, the Festival Director of The White Owl Literature Festival, and proprietor of The White Owl Book Lounge for her contribution in nurturing a community of readers, writers, and thinkers fervent about influencing the world with wonderful literary concepts. In addition to working tirelessly with educators, members of the community, and children, she has been able to organize multiple book fairs by connecting with several schools and colleges.

Rio stated that lately, Nagaland has witnessed the mushrooming of published writers and authors in the last one or two decades. ‘The White Owl Literature Festival and Book Fair’ is a giant leap towards pursuing policies that benefit avid and budding writers. He hoped that the memorable interaction with Naga writers, intellectuals, and the untapped potential of our region would entice everyone to return in the future. This festival is not just an event; it is a bridge that connects us across cultures and generations, fostering a deeper appreciation for the written and spoken word.

Poet & Writer, Winner of the Hindu Literary Prize, Easterine Kire, in her keynote address, stated that our ancestors are the storytellers about village history, carriers of poem song, language, and culture, and the writers are simply trying to carry forward the legacy in different mediums. She mentioned that what is happening today to the story and storytelling is alarming because the story has been ebonized, intellectualized, politicized to a horrifying degree. Hence, she urged the writers and the young generation to trust in their ability and value what they have and not try to fit in but be original, as we are all differently beautiful in our own ability. Value your originality and explore it, write good stories, and give hope and healing to the readers, she added.

The two-day White Owl Literature Festival and Book Fair featured a diverse range of programs, including author sessions, cultural performances, and food stalls. The book fair also offered a wide selection of literature.

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