BHUBANESWAR: As the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has forced the world to change the way it lived, making work and learning from home the new normal and shifting to virtual platforms to go on with business and activities, the Odisha Literary Festival (OLF) could not be left behind.
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday inaugurated OLF 2020, which by adapting to the new normal is being held on virtual platforms from November 26 to 29.
Welcoming everyone to the ninth edition of the OLF, organised by The New Indian Express (TNIE), the Chief Minister said that in these dark times, prose and poetry are the true friends, giving us comfort and clarity, calmness and courage to take the challenge. “The virus tried to ensure that we do not meet, but science has ensured that we are meeting anyway, though from a distance, and the art is here to ensure convergence of our minds,” he said.
He lauded the role of women in tackling one of the world's worst crises. Drawing comparison to the yesteryears in terms of women's empowerment, he referred to the great literary work of Fakir Mohan Senapati, Rebati, written in 1898 stating, "In the book, the cholera epidemic was seen by the superstitious as a curse by the Goddess for the little girl’s temerity to be educated, to dream and grow. In more than 12 decades since, in 2020, a pandemic has again slowed us down in our tracks. But now, we know better, we know the science behind the Coronavirus. The confidence and determination of our daughters are higher than the Himalayas."
Hitting a tone of optimism amid the adversity, Naveen said the power of words have the ability to make imagination take flight to enable our sorrows to vanish - like a great song writer once sang, 'There is a crack, a crack in everything, that's now the light gets in.'
He appreciated TNIE for its continued support to Odisha and its rich literary tradition of producing and recognising great works of art. “Its many editions amplified by its social media platforms and language extension have always stood for truth and justice. I look forward to the triumph of the word in the newspapers as well as elsewhere. I am also looking forward to the variety and diversity of the writers who are speaking at the festival, from Odisha's very own proud daughter Mira Nair to the wise and wonderful Sudha Murty; from the young best-selling writer Chetan Bhagat to the artfully articulate Shashi Tharoor,” he said.
Editorial Director of TNIE, Prabhu Chawla thanked the Chief Minister for inspiring, year after year, to make the OLF a great success. He also thanked the people of Odisha for their support and encouragement to organise the OLF for the last eight years. “The pandemic had thwarted us and imprisoned us in our
homes, we are now returning to Odisha virtually,” he said.
Stating that the OLF has grown with each edition, Chawla said that this time also a power-packed line up of speakers in sessions spread over four days will enchant, perform and throw light on various aspects of literature to light up and eradicate the darkness.