The SAARC Literary Festival on South Asian Poetry: Reflections of a Cultural Confluence was held from 2-5 July 2015, at Hotel Lalit Ashok, Bangalore, India. The Festival was held in collaboration with the Sahitya Akademi, the National Academy of Letters, Government of India. The Festival was inaugurated by Mr. Pramod Jain, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, Government of India with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp. Over 50 delegates from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka attended the Festival. The list of Participants can be seen at Annex-1.
The Welcome Address was delivered by Mr. Wasanthe Kotuwella, Director, SAARC Cultural Centre followed by the addresses by Mr. Pramod Jain, Joint Secretary Ministry of Culture, Government of India, Dr. Vishwanath Prasad Tiwari, President, Sahitya Akademi, keynote speech by Mr. Malinda Seneviratne, noted poet from Sri Lanka and vote of thanks by Ms. Apsara Karunaratne, Research Assistant, SAARC Cultural Centre.
Mr. Malinda Seneviratne, one of the most eminent poets in Sri Lanka who has authored a number of award winning poetry collections, in his keynote speech titled ‘The Quest for Commonality’ expounded on the commonalities of human emotions and he mentioned that “we are nothing if not the fraternal citizens of a borderless and free territory of minds and hearts in a region called South Asia, a geographical accident produced by the movement of hidden plates over millennia and a passing specificity made of movement, sharing and exchange in the commerce of art, philosophy, innovation, goods, services and power.”
The Literary Festival included six country presentations, namely, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In the country presentation, each delegation presented the historical developments and current status of poetry in their respective countries.
The Festival consisted of paper reading sessions and poetry reading sessions. A total of 17 papers were presented over 4 days (2-5 July 2015). The sessions were along the following themes:
- Country Presentations (6 Sessions),
- Colonial and Post-colonial South Asian Poetry: From Agitation to Celebration (1 Session),
- South Asian Poetry: Shared Characteristics and Trends (1 Session),
- Current Developments of South Asian Poetry (1 Session),
- South Asian Poets & their Contributions (Case Studies) (1 Session) and
- The South Asian Poem through the Ages (1 Session)
The Poetry reading Sessions included 4 sessions with 33 participating poets reading their own compositions both in English and their native languages.
At the end of the Festival, a Valedictory Session was held at the Festival venue. Mr. Wasanthe Kotuwella, Director, SAARC Cultural Centre distributed certificates and mementos to all the participants of the Festival.