Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio addressing the inaugural of the White Owl Literature Festival & Book Fair at Niathu Resort, Chümoukedima on February 9. (DIPR Photo)
The White Owl Literature Festival & Book Fair opens
Morung Express News
Chümoukedima | February 9
The White Owl Literature Festival & Book Fair was inaugurated today by Nagaland Chief Minister, Neiphiu Rio here, at the Plaza Zone Niathu by the Park. With its central theme, “Echoes of Narratives,” the novel venture organized by The White Owl Book Lounge in association with Penguin Random House India and knowledge partner, Cambridge University Press aims to revive the fervour for reading and honour the state’s rich storytelling heritage.
Addressing the community of readers and writers from across India, Rio expressed joy to be embarking on a cultural journey with two of the country’s largest trade and academic publishers, marking a historic moment in North-East India, while noting that it is a testament to the power of literature in uniting diverse communities. “It is a moment that fills us with enthusiasm and pride,” he added.
He hoped that the two-day fest will be marked by vibrant discussions, sharing of knowledge and ideas, and an exchange of perspectives that will enrich one’s understanding of the pivotal role literature plays in the life of a community.
Rio said the theme resonates deeply with the literary heritage of Nagaland, noting that the Nagas’ cultural richness finds expression in both oral and written forms, with “storytelling being a thread that weaves us into the tapestry of our origins.”
“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. 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.”
Rio expressed hope the festival will serve as an inspiration to the younger generation to read more, write more, and actively contribute to the documentation and preservation of the state’s vibrant literary traditions and that a thriving reading culture will emerge from it.
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 who are fervent about influencing the world with “wonderful literary concepts.”
With Nagaland witnessing the mushrooming of published writers and authors in the last two decades, Rio said the event 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 the region will entice everyone to return in the future.
Value one’s originality and explore it: Easterine Kire
Easterine Kire, noted poet and writer, winner of the Hindu Literary Prize, in her keynote address acknowledged the ancestors who were the “storytellers in these hills of the Nagas, the ones who told immortal stories before they passed on, the faithful carriers of village history, of poem, songs…..The carriers of language and culture.” She acknowledged the great legacy that they have left behind, which resonates to the theme of the festival, and reminds us that “we are simply trying to carry forward the legacy in a different medium.”
Touching on where to draw the line when telling a story, Kire said that what is happening today to the story and storytelling was “alarming.” She held that the story is being ‘weaponised, intellectualised, and politicised’ to a ‘horrifying degree,’ that stories today are used as ammunition to prop up movements and trends. To this end, she urged the writers and young generation to trust in their ability and value what they have and not try to fit in, but be originals, conveying that “you’re made to be beautifully different.” She urged the indigenous writers and communities to value one’s originality and explore it, to write good stories and give hope and healing to the readers.
The two-day festival and book fair has an array of events lined up, including author sessions, storytelling, cultural performance, open mic poetry, where literary enthusiasts can learn and grow together.
Noted post and writer, Easterine Kire delivering the key note address at the inaugural of the White Owl Literature Festival & Book Fair at Niathu Resort, Chümoukedima on February 9.