Syal festival goes digital, off to a memorable start

Tharoor, UK-based lawyer Marina Wheeler hog limelight in inaugural session

Syal festival goes digital, off to a memorable start

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 11

It is on again. The Majha House inaugurated its annual literary festival this weekend with three engaging interactions. Popularly known as ‘Syal festival’, however, some sheen is off the festival this year – it will be conducted digitally – due to the pandemic. Curated by Preeti Gill, founder, Majha House, she said the festival would continue every weekend throughout January.

It will bring together famed writers and thinkers for thoughtful discussions over the period, as done in the past.

This time the inaugural session of the festival had Parliamentarian and author Shashi Tharoor in conversation with Rakshanda Jalil, a writer, translator and critic. Talking about his recent book titled ‘The Battle of Belonging’, he went into depth about what makes us Indian, he said he regretted that there was such a competition among the citizens to prove their belongingness. “Everybody was bent upon trying to prove themselves a Hindu or a Sikh, but no one talks of being an Indian. There is a lot of difference between Hinduism and Hindutva,” Tharoor underlined.

The second event was a discussion about another book, ‘The Lost Homestead’, written by Marina Wheeler. A lawyer based in the UK, Wheeler is the former wife of UK PM Boris Johnson. Speaking with author Anchal Malhotra, Wheeler said the book was description of her mother’s journey after the Partition. “My mother had to leave Pakistan and later settled overseas. While researching for the book, I got an opportunity to visit Punjab several times in India and Pakistan, which was intriguing and a revelation,” she said.

The third event of the festival comprised talks on a book named ‘Radiance of a Thousand Suns’ by writer Manreet Sodhi Someshwar. This is themed on a long journey from the Partition of 1947 to the riots of 1984 to the attack of September 2011. The character of the book, Nooran, goes through these convulses and Manreet has tried to describe her mental anguish. Talking about her book, she said women were being subjected to harassment everywhere.


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