United in letter and spirit

Aksharyaan, a Telangana-based women writers’ forum, aims at promoting local culture while raising pertinent questions to the powers that be

Published: 04th September 2022 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 03rd September 2022 09:15 PM   |  A+A-

Bathukamma celebrations

After their fifth Zoom meeting on Telugu Language Day (August 29), three Telugu women writers are inching closer to completing the task at hand. Rohini Satya from Bengaluru, Raveena Chavaan from Pune and Sree Chandana R from Hyderabad, the heads of the 18 chapters of Aksharyaan, a Telangana-based women writers’ forum, are shortlistling 30 essays for an anthology to be released on Bathukamma, the state’s floral festival on September 25. The work has been commissioned by Telangana Jagruthi, a cultural outfit based in Hyderabad. 

Inampudi Sreelakshmi, the founder of Aksharyaan, shares that since its inception three years ago, the organisation has collaborated with corporates, publishers and government bodies for 15 other such books. Today, they are a 1,180-member strong community, consisting of Telugu women writers spread across the world.

“For instance, we have Sarada Hanuman, Bhandaru Sujata Shekar, Surya Dhananjay and Aduvalla Sujatha, who have done research on Bathukamma, have incorporated its rich history and intriguing anecdotes in the upcoming book. Their plethora of knowledge goes beyond what’s available online regarding the festival,” says the 55-year-old writer, who is currently the deputy director of Telugu University in Hyderabad. She has written 15 books so far, of which Asha Deepam, Kottha Premalekhalu, and Monologue of Wounded Heart are the most popular. 

To pen her own piece, Sreelakshmi has been speaking with her grand- aunts in her hometown Nizamabad. They are, she says, the unofficial authorities on the festival rituals. Her essay, titled ‘Galli nunchi Guinness daaka’, chronicles the trajectory of the festival from its humble beginnings in the streets to finding pride of place in the Guinness World Records in 2019 after one lakh women participated in the grand event at LB Stadium in Hyderabad.

While Aksharyaan, she  says, aims at creating awareness about local culture (published books on festivals like on Dasara and Bonalu), it also attempts to ask pertinent questions to the powers that be by publishing literature on issues that matter.

One of their other books in the making is about survivors of child sexual abuse. Titled Pasi Molakalu Rudhira Jwalalu (Seedlings to the Flames of Rage), the 498-page tome consists of works by 391 poets. Earlier they had also brought out a book on the agrarian crisis.

Aksharyaan, which is Sreelakshmi’s passion project, began in May 2019 as an outfit with 43 women and gathered momentum during the Covid lockdown. “Aksharyaan is the bridge between our members and publishers. Our symbiotic relationship ensures that the publishers get what they’re looking for and the writers get to write about topics of high resonance,” she adds.

Sreelakshmi, however, has a more pressing issue at hand, for the conversations across her 42 WhatsApp groups created for Bathukamma all revolve around a single subject––coordinating sari colours for the big book launch. From syntax to sarees, Aksharyaan traverses it all.

Aksharyaan’s innovative literary projects
✥ October 2019: Organised a kavi sammelanam with 316 women poets. It is considered the largest congregation of women poets in the history of Telugu literature. The poems were published under the title Poola Singidi by Telangana Jagruthi
✥ 2021: Uploaded 18 hours of poetry on YouTube as part of their Telugu Video Poetry marathon
✥ Aprill 2022: Launched Aksharayaan Children’s Wing to encourage children to write Sarala Sathakalu, a unique form of writing poems. 
 



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