Kathmandu Literary Jatra – Promoting Nepali Literature

Taking place at different venues in Kathmandu’s Patan Durbar Square on 16 to 18 September 2011, the Kathmandu Literary Jatra aims to present Nepal’s literature to a global audience. Although the people of Nepal are known to have a strong oral tradition, with legends, historical events, and cultural occasions being passed down through generations, it is only in recent years that this oral tradition has been put into writing, and contemporary Nepalese literature has become more freely available. Visitors to the Kathmandu Literary Jatra will have the opportunity to become acquainted with these literary gems and many of the writers behind them.

When Nepal was freed from totalitarian rule in the early 1950s it was discovered that less than five percent of the population was literate, putting them at a disadvantage in pursuing a better future, especially for the younger generation. Great strides have been made in education and currently more than fifty percent of the almost thirty million people living in Nepal are now literate. But the joys of literacy go beyond the ability to read and write. Being literate can open up a world of possibilities as readers gain cultural insight, discover details of history-shaping events of the past and enjoy reading for the pure entertainment value it offers.

Historically, communities in Nepal were quite isolated from one another, speaking their own languages, and creating their own culture, traditions and history. The Kathmandu Literary Jatra will be providing a platform for writers and storytellers, as well as their audiences, to widen out beyond their previous isolation, and organizers believe that the event will promote a vibrant literary culture in Nepal.

The three-day event features a full program of presentations, workshops, poetry and literature readings, as well as meetings between authors and literary authorities and the general public. Some of the topics visitors to the Kathmandu Literary Jatra can look forward to are: Nepali Literature in the Age of Democracy; Uncovering the Truth; Narratives as a Window to History; Languages of Nepal: A New Renaissance?; Bridging the Language Divide; Insurgency and Nepali Literature; The East India Company, the Mughals, and the Gorkhali Empire; Nepali Literature Beyond Nepal; National and Individual Biographies; Urdu and English: Walking Two Worlds; Being a Woman, Becoming a Writer; Ashoka Maurya and His Legacy; and The Power of Social Media.