Himalayan Echoes – Kumaon Festival of Literature and Arts Day 2

New Delhi: After a successful inaugural day of the Festival, the second day at Himalayan Echoes saw enthusiastic participation from both local and international delegates. The sessions presented a cross-section of themes from looking inward to celebrating poetry, directing art towards a sustainable purpose and insights into the life of Adi Shakarcharya, one of the greatest thinkers of Hinduism.

Joshua Pollock, a writer of US origin, based in India, a western classical violinist who also collaborated with A.R.Rahman, spoke of his book – The Heartfulness Way. He stressed on how important it was to turn your consciousness inside, change your orientation through meditation. Joshua, highlighted the process of harnessing divine energy through yoga transmission and meditation. He also led the delegates through a meditation session. This offered an auspicious and a beautiful start to Day 2 of Himalayan Echoes.

Harish Kapadia, who has explored Himalayas for over fifty years and has written seventeen invaluable books on his experiences, presented his book, Legendary Maps of The Himalayan Club in conversation with Mr.Stephen Alter. Mr Kapadia delved upon the history and evolution of maps and their critical importance for exploration, right from sketch maps, prayer maps and those produced by the Survey of India. He also spoke of the importance of the sport of mountaineering and trekking and its therapeutic value in the age of short attention spans.

Anuradha Roy, who has day-before been shortlisted for the JCB Prize 2018 and was long listed for the Man Booker Prize in 2015 was in discussion about her novel All The lives We Never Lived with Kiran Jeremiah, Principal of All Saints’ College. In what was a heartwarming session Anuradha read out excerpts from her book highlighting portions which threw light on her characters and how each incident strings together in harmony into a denouement of the book.

Introducing the power of audio books Storytel launched Viky Arya’s book, “Aangan mein ek ped”,  both in print and audio. Viky read out her poems which not only touched upon emotions of love and innocence but also human connectivity through feeling and simplicity. Her special poem for Himalayan Echoes resonated the peace and sublimity of Kumaon and its mountains and lakes.  The relevance of the role of listening as opposed to or in addition to reading, in today’s world of accessible media was the spirit behind Storytel’s endeavour. (Viky Arya presented a poem on Himalayan Echoes. It is attached with the email).

The session on recycling had Ita Mehrotra of Artreach sharing how the initiative started from a mural in a care home to a Trust and now a team of artists working with children to skill them in visual arts. For a project for Himalayan Echoes, Artreach collected junk items and allowed children to use their creativity and create an installation. The installation which was called “Kabadpur- a city from waste” was displayed at the Old Ghoda Stand, Mallital. The focus is to question the world through creative engagement. Manish Pushkale who is a Trustee of the Raza Foundation highlighted that “what is refusable is reusable” and that “creativity is not possible without hope”.

Pawan Varma, the noted author, diplomat and former Member of Parliament discussed extensively his book on Adi Shankaracharya: Hinduism’s Greatest Thinker is also shortlisted for the Atta Galatta award. Pawan Varma highlighted that Shankaracharya was a philosopher, a paramarthik thinker who centuries ago examined the ultimate truth and the original and enduring cause which unites everyone. The search was not for God in a personal sense but for attribute-less consciousness. His pursuit was not of theism but of truth and did not allow for categories to slot divinity under.  Shankaracharya through his structures propagated knowledge, the gyan marg, as a route to achieve full awareness.

The second and concluding day of the festival witnessed active and energetic discussions after each session between members of the audience. Also, the food and local art and craft stalls had large crowds providing encouragement and appreciation. The strong local element, the intimacy and conviviality of the Festival drew widespread appreciation from the delegates.