Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) Director General, Suresh Goel inaugurated the three-day South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) literature festival in Agra on March 10. Besides Indian writers, a number of writers and performers from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are taking part in the festival.
The current SAARC festival of literature is being held under the auspices of the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature (FOSWAL) that has brought together the noted writers, academics, artists and historians from the South Asian region for mutual understanding and deliberations.
SAARC, established on 8 December 1985, is an organisation of South Asian nations for the promotion of economic and social progress, cultural development within the South Asia region and also for friendship and cooperation with other developing countries. The SAARC Secretariat is in Nepal's Kathmandu since 1987.
On the first day of the festival, the writers A K Rashid, Kazi Sufia Akhtar and Md Nurul Huda, Tsering Dorji, Ibrahim Waheed, Abhi Subedi, Nasreen Anjum Bhatti, Nisar Ahmed Chaudhry, Daya Dissanayake, Sitakant Mahapatra, Abhay Kumar, Surjit Patar and Jayant Mahapatra were honored for their contribution to literature.
According to the organisers, the festival is slated to have cultural performances, including the Pakistani whirling dance, Indian Odisi dance and presentations by Pakistani Fakiri and the Baul group of India.