Khajuraho Lit Fest: Inculcating Nationalism in Literary Discourse
Organiser   16-Jan-2019
Dr Nandita Pathak is speaking at the inaugural session. Satyendra Tripathi, Acharya Ganga Sarasvati,
 Vivek Agnihotri and Uday Mahurkar are also seen
Khajuraho Lit Fest was a successful experiment in building a nationalistic alternative platform to ‘popular literature festivals’, which are celebrated for lack of Indianness
The cultural capital of erstwhile Chandelas of Bundelkhand, in Madhya Pradesh, hosted the Khajuraho Literature Festival 2019 from January 5 to 6 on the theme ‘Celebrating Indian Culture’. Organised by Lok Neeti, the lit fest brought together creative minds from different parts of the country in the temple city to discuss cultural and literary richness of Bharat.
Speaking at the inaugural session, noted filmmaker and author Vivek Agnihotri said that India is a country of the common man and spirituality is in our DNA. Taking a dig at the contemporary movies, he said that in ‘post-Shahrukh Khan era’, the Bollywood has dropped the common man from films.
Lauding the beauty and cultural importance of the temples in Khajuraho, Vivek Agnihotri said, “I recommend all parents take their children to Khajuraho to show them the monuments of human excellence, the power of spirituality, modernism, women empowerment, the progressive, scientific and liberal mind of India. They will be proud of India and won’t let anyone else rule their minds.”
Acharya Ganga Sarasvati, General Secretary of Ganga Mahasabha said, “In India, gender equality has never been an issue. Not only male and female, even trans-genders had been given a lot of respect before the rule of Alauddin Khalji. Even cravings on temple depict trans-genders serving idols of God and Goddess in temples.” He also criticised the CPM government in Kerala for interfering in the Hindu customs and practices and trying to destroy the Sabarimala traditions in the name of gender equality.

"Unlike Lutyens-based Lit Fests, we endeavour to awaken the real Indian society"
Satyendra Tripathi, the ideator of Khajuraho Lit Fest and founder of Lok Neeti, under whose aegis the event was organised, speaks to Organiser

Why Khajuraho?
Khajuraho is very rich by its cultural, traditional and historical legacy. It is an immense treasure we have. But somehow, it has ben projected in a very negative manner. When we talk about India’s culture and heritage, I thought, we should have the focus on such areas where we can see culture as a ‘lived experience’. So once we chose Madhya Pradesh, my mind was drawn towards Bundelkhand region and Khajuraho.
The idea of Lit Fest
Basically, the idea was to promote the Indian thought process. As far as other major literature festivals are concerned, they show our culture and civilisation in poor light. It is not because that India is bereft of literary heritage. So why do not we promote the rich heritage of our literature? Why do not we discuss that? So we needed a platform to discuss the positivity of our culture and literature. This is how the idea came up.
The diversity of topics
We tried our level best to incorporate more vibrant as well as positive topics for panel discussions. We discussed the legacy of our nationalism. When it comes to gender justice, nobody had challenged discourse around gender identiy in Indian society. If you go through Ramayana, we can find out how the then society lived in harmony. You can find beautiful examples of how various societies lived in harmony. The leftist theories of social inclusion and justice are only intended to malign our cultural values. So we chose such topics for panel discussions.It was an effort to reinvent how we lived as a society.
A different approach
Reading out or discussing books alone will not serve the purpose. We have to bring our value system more in the discussions. So we wanted our speakers to concentrate on those aspects.
The next edition
Our theme is the same, celebrating India’s culture. So we will invite more intellectuals who are working towards that direction. The local people are also very much interested in the idea. Unlike Lutyens-based Lit Fests, we endeavour to awaken the real Indian society, which lives far from Delhi. So we all are looking forward to the next edition.

The panel discussions saw acclaimed authors and speakers come together to discuss culture and literature. Speaking on the legacy of Indian nationalism, Uday Mahurkar, Deputy Editor of India Today said that if Mahatma Gandhi is the father of the nation, Veer Savarkar is the father of the Indian National Security and India should follow Savarkar’s doctrine of unalloyed Nationalism. He stressed on the need for India to officially accept Veer Savarkar’s doctrine based on unalloyed nationalism in national security and foreign policy. Shri Mahurkar also threw some light on his forthcoming book on Veer Savarkar. Dr Nandita Pathak, NIOS member and social activist, also spoke on the occasion.
On the second day, experts from various fields expressed their views on Gender Justice and Social Inclusion by casting light on Indian tradition, literature, art and religion in the panel discussions. Speaking on the topic ‘Dharma Satta to Raj Satta’, Kapil Mishra, former Water Resources Minister in the AAP Government said that it is time to enlighten ourselves about the meaning and difference between Dharma and Raj (politics). There are many countries in the world which are based on Christian values lack ‘Dharma’. This is the fundamental difference between religion and Dharma. The religions and states, which are based on Semitic principles are intolerant, and that is why they exterminate their critics.
A recently released book, Portraits of Hindutva: From Harappa to Ayodhya written by veteran journalist and political analyst Rakesh Singh, was also introduced to the literary connoisseurs. Speaking on the occasion, he said that he tried to argue in the book that Hindutva is as old as Hindu faith, not a modern-day mischievous concoction.
The topics ranging from Legacy of Nationalism and Gender Justice to Social Inclusion and Justice, and Dharma Satta and Raj Satta were discussed in the two-day long festival. The organisers of the event said that they envisaged the Lit Fest as a platform for the exchange of like-minded ideas. “The endeavour turned out to be a celebration of India’s cultural pride,” a student delegate participated in the event said.