“Fifth Khushwant Singh Literary Festival” to take off on Oct -14

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khushwant-singhCHANDIGARH: The “Fifth Khushwant Singh Literary Festival” (KS Litfest), will be held at the Kasauli Club, Kasauli, Himachal Pradesh, on October 14, 15 and 16 this year.

Started in 2012, when the iconic writer, Khushwant Singh, was still alive (he died at the ripe old age of 99), its the only litfest named after an individual. It is also the only litfestheld in Himachal Pradesh.

Kasauli was where Khushwant Singh did much of his writing. Many of his passions, such as his love of nature, of Urdu poetry, his concern for the education of the girl child, his pride in the Indian soldier, his irreverence and his humour, were nurtured in the environs of the Kasauli hills, and are reflected in the earlier litfests.

The theme of this year’s Litfest is “Breaking Barriers”, something that Khushwant Singh was known for doing all his working life, with his bold writing and unorthodox views.

This year’s participants will include, Shyam Benegal, MontekSingh Ahluwalia, Kanhaiya Kumar, Salman Khurshid, Omar Abdullah, Abhinav Bindra, Madhu Kishwar, the Bedi Brothers, Pavan Varma, Suhel Seth, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Steven Alter.

The Litfest will be inaugurated at 11am on October 14, by the Himachal Chief Minister, Virbhadra Singh. He will throw open the “Khushwant Singh Trail”, a short-cut from the 6,000-foot high Kasauli bazaar, right down to the plains of Kalka town, a distance of nine kms that Khushwant Singh used to traverse regularly on foot. The trail, which is a tribute to him, has been spruced up and made into a nature walk, with signboards of trees and birds that one encounters on it. The inaugural ceremony will also include the giving away of prizes by the Himachal Chief Minister to winners of the “Joy of Learning” competition organized by the KS Litfest, every year, and in which almost 200 schools, both government and private, from the region, take part.

The Governor of Punjab, Vijender Pal Singh Badnore, will do the closing ceremony of the Fifth KS Litfest on October 16 afternoon.

The KS Litfest started in 2012 on a modest scale. From an initial audience of around 200 a day at its venue, the Kasauli Club, it has grown to close to 1,000 a day, one of the best-attended litfests in the country. Indeed, the KS Litfest has put the military cantonment of Kasauli, on India’s literary map. The credit for this goes largely to the successiveBrigadiers in charge of Kasauli, Ananth Narayanan, Gogi Reddy, Pavan Lamba, and now Deepak Sharma.

“Contrary to the myth he propagated around himself of being a womanizer, he was an extremely disciplined man. Waking at 4 am, feeding the cats, and writing his columns, which were always ready by 7 am, a time when most are just waking up,” Rahul Singh – noted author – son of legendary Khushwant Singh says.

At the festival named after him in Kasauli, where he did so much of his writing, the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival, the Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Virbhadra Singh, will open a walking trail in his name. Khushwant Singh would often walk down this path from Kasauli to Mahsool Khana and Kalka. It was a 9 km trail that became overgrown once the bus service started

It will be opened by the CM on the opening day of the Khushwant Singh Literary Festival in Kasauli, October 14.