New Delhi, Jan 7, The sudden change in weather may have been a setback for those with elaborate plans over the weekend but it did not deter visitors from thronging in large numbers to the World Book Fair that kickstarted here on Saturday afternoon.
The nine day-long literary extravaganza was inaugurated by Minister of State for Human Resources Development Mahendra Nath Pandey. Pratibha Ray, noted Odia Author and Jnanpith Awardee was the guest of honour and Tomasz Kozlowski, Ambassador of the Delegation of the European Union to India was the special guest on the occasion.
Natasha Bhatia (23), a student of Delhi University said: "All my friends were looking forward to the book fair for a couple of days and damn! You have the weather gods playing spoilsport. Thankfully, it did not rain much in the morning and so we did not miss the opportunity," she said.
Trotting around with a baggage of books purchased from the fair, including several titles by evergreen author Ruskin Bond, Bhatia and her group of friends also expressed their happiness at the arrangements made at the festival.
"We did not carry much cash with us but it was a good relief to see that almost all the stalls are accepting cards. We also saw a mobile ATM van and I think sufficient arrangements have been made for a hassle-free book fair," said Santosh from the same group.
A host of activities, ranging from seminars and panel discussions to storytelling sessions and workshops on creative writing are underway at the Children's Pavilion.
"New Delhi World Book Fair will have 'Manushi' as the Theme of this year, which will focus on writings on and by women; and will exhibit the rich tradition of women writings from ancient times till present," the organiser, National Book Trust, said in a statement.
NBT is celebrating 60 years of its foundation by showcasing its journey in promoting books and reading at a special exhibit "This is no looking back!"
The exhibit displays the varied activities that NBT has undertaken in promoting books including fairs organised across India, participation in international book fairs and its publishing programme, among others.
Like every year, this time too several well known as well as emerging writers, including the likes of Dr. Karan Singh, V.K. Cherian, Mridula Koshy, Parvindar Bali and Samir Dua will engage in lively banters with the visitors. "Coming together of both the author and the audience makes conversations at the fair livelier", the organisers said.
Another attraction at this year's book fair is the Children's Pavilion. The venue is all set to host a series of activities like drawing competitions, storytelling sessions, skits, author meetings and discussions. The Pavilion also showcases some of the best of recent publications for children from across the country.
This year, about 20 countries along with their delegates are participating in the fortnight-long celebration of literature.
One of the most appealing among all international participations at the fair this year is an exhibition of photographs titled "New Homelands: The Indian Diaspora in the European Union," organised by the delegation of European Union to India.
The exhibition attempts to chronicle the lives of Indians who have settld in different parts of Europe. Three Indian photographers -- Kounteya Sinha, Paroma Mukherjee and Shome Basu -- travelled through 21 European countries to capture the essence that finds a display at the book fair. The exhibition provides fresh insights into the links between the people of EU and India.
The cultural department of Embassy of China has also put together an impressive exhibition called "Happy Chinese New Year", which is "emblematic of the cultural tradition, heritage and aesthetic aspirations" of Chinese people.
Meanwhile, MBD Group, one of the leading education companies in India, launched a new line of Virtual Reality based content and device at the fair. The stall remained one of the most attractive centres at the fair on the first day and was also visited by Minister of State for Human Resource Development (Higher Education) Mahendra Nath Pandey, who inaugurated the fair earlier in the day.
For first time writers, Hall number 18 is offering a special treat as Notion Press, India's largest self-publishing platform, is offering a free book publishing and marketing consultation for first time writers at its stall.
"A manuscript goes through several critical processes before it is called a published book and most writers are not aware of these. As publishing becomes more democratic, we have often found that the difference between a successful writer and one who struggles is the understanding of the business side of books," said Bhargava Adepalley, Co-Founder of Notion Press.
Nearly 800 publishers from across the country and abroad are participated in the Fair, making it a grand celebration of books and writers. The book fair concludes on January 15.