Which places or what reasons are there for people to gather in thousands and in lakhs? These days it would be either a political rally or a religious event. but there are some exceptions where people gather for a different purpose. The All India Marathi Literary Meet (Marathi Sahitya Sammelan) was one such example.
The Marathi Sahitya Sammelan has a glorious tradition of 83 years. Justice Mahadev Govind Ranade started it in Pune and Marathi literature lovers from all across India meet once a year at different places.
This year Pune witnessed this colorful event in the last week of March. Thousands of literature lovers from all over Maharashtra thronged to the S.P. college ground to attend the event. The atmosphere was full of enthusiasm and energy. People attended symposiums and heated discussions in the pendal. They were meeting and listening to writers and poets or just roaming around, meeting friends and tasting the food at the different food stalls. Many politicians, ministers, social activists and well known personalities from film and theatre groups also attended this Sammelan.
The book exhibition is always an integral part of this Sammelan. This year's 3 day book fair was special in many ways. It was organized on a grand scale, was well designed and spread across 1 lakh sq.ft. area. More than 350 publishers and booksellers from Maharashtra participated with thousands of their books on display.
On Saturday and Sunday the book fair drew a record number of book lovers. Almost 1 lakh people visited the exhibition and the total turn over is expected to reach upto Rs.4 to 5 crores. (Normally this figure goes up to 1 to 2 crs every year and that is still considered grand success). Going by those numbers, this year's book fair has surely set a set record. A wonderful answer to those who claim that people don't read and buy books anymore.
This book fair was special in yet another way. The entire range of Marathi and English books by Pratham Books adorned stall no 91. It was wonderful to be there. The colorfully designed stall was constantly crowded by parents and children. People were browsing through our books and were impressed by the quality content and illustrations. They were curious to know more about the books. Children were very happy to see the bright colorful books and insisted that their parents buy the books for them.
Some literary scholars and academicians have their reservations about this annual exercise. They object to the 'festivity' of the literary meet. They have a point.
But still.. people like to participate.
They listen to the writers, handle and buy books and enjoy the festive mood of the sammelan. This platform provides a good secular reason to come together in a big way.
What else do we need?
View more pictures from the Marathi Sahitya Sammelan here.