West indian literature

How the Jaipur Literature Festival 2022 will be different

The Jaipur Literature Festival returns to the Pink City from January 28 to February 1, 2022 for its 15th edition. The festival, which placed Jaipur on the world map of literary events, was held virtually in 2021 due to Covid restrictions. It garnered 10 million viewers. For 2022, Sanjoy Roy, the man behind the festival, has made three changes. First, it will be holding it in a hybrid form, extending the digital live shows until February 6. Second, for the first time, it will be reserved for in-person visitors. Third, the venue was moved from Diggi Palace to Clark’s Amer, a former five-star hotel.

For an event that registers an annual attendance of around 400,000 people and has been dubbed the “Maha Kumbh of Literature”, these are dramatic changes. Many visitors who purchase one-day or five-day delegate tickets, including certain perks such as meals and beverages, access to speakers’ lounges, special dinners, and musical events, have in the past required that the free entry be limited in number. The Diggi Palace, the venue since JLF was born, is getting too crowded, even speakers have trouble making their way to the podium in various rooms and tents. But Roy resisted making it a paying event. Once Roy spotted a guard at the scene restricting the entry of a man who appeared to be underprivileged. Upon intervening, he found out that the old man wanted to take his grandson to the festival. By then, Roy had decided that he would never make JLF a paid event. But Covid has ended those plans. With the need to restrict the number on the site, the cost to spend a day at JLF will be Rs 200.

The change of Diggi Palace was also a difficult decision. He now says he has simply swapped the venue for literary events, i.e. the Diggi Palace, with the venue where the JLF team would host musical evenings – Clark’s Amer. Diggi will now be the venue for musical performances. The local administration had asked him to move because the Diggi Palace offers less space for visitors and parking, but he objected as the Diggi Palace offers a unique heritage atmosphere. The administration, however, had argued that Diggi was a dangerous place in the event of a stampede. He also found it too painful to deal with traffic and parking around the site on the city’s busiest road. Two years ago, the administration had made him undertake to change the location and, to exclude the Republic Day, when the police take care of official events, the festival. Of course, many JLF guests also didn’t like a dry day between the five days of the festival.

Roy also faced the frustration of dealing with bureaucratic officials and the mockery they expect. In the previous edition, he rubbed officials the wrong way by not reserving chairs for VVIPs or giving them special treatment. In fact, if anyone deserves special treatment, it’s Roy. No government-created festival has drawn as many tourists and generated as much attraction for Jaipur and Rajasthan as JLF since Roy took it over from the Jaipur Virasat Foundation, which had started and organized it for a few years but to a very small climb. Roy’s version of the JLF has inspired a few smaller events for literature, art, and film in Jaipur, but none come close to its success. JLF 2022 will host nearly 250 speakers, many stars and 300 hours of programming.

Those who wish to be there in person will have to rush to book tickets as these are likely to sell out soon. Even for free entry, Roy stopped registration to limit entry.

And 2023? The Diggi Palace is located in the heart of the city, while Clark’s Amer is slightly further south, closer to the airport, and the government has suggested that JLF be held at a convention center further south, beyond from the airport, on the outskirts of town. Maybe Diggi Palace can have a mini JLF for tickets in the years to come.

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