2 Madhubani Literature Festival, what I could experience

Before this, I attended Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF). Even I invited Mr. Sanjoy Roy the organizer of JLF as a speaker in the TED talk that I hosted last year. Some of my students also volunteered in JLF so I can claim that I have seen JLF succeeding very closely. When I was planning to attend the Madhubani Literature Festival (MLF) I had a clear understanding that nowhere it would be closer to JLF. I was a votary of thought that Maithili is on a decline and so the number of participants are ought to be very small.  However, the venue of MLF was equally exciting. The Rajanar of Madhubani is almost a forgotten place and need due attention from the country.  However, the list of speakers was giving me confidence that characteristic of the event would not be different. When I heard about MLF being organized a couple of months back, I conveyed to Dr. Savita Jha Khan, the organizer that I was interested in attending it.  In principle, I wanted to attend such events, but logistics has been a challenge. I thought I will combine it with my regular visit to my native place.

However the ground reality was different. Just one month back I went to my native place during Deepawali with my family. Hence, now I had to go alone. I cannot use my official leave.  When Dr. Khan asked me to confirm, I started calculating the leave I had to take, the ticket I had to purchase and the things I could do in this event. Then I realized, in such a case when we attend such an event, not only we make it successful but we also learn a lot. It is always give and take. Most importantly it gives immense opportunity to network with other people.    

Very soon, the poster started circulating on social media. My wife also saw the same and once told me, now there is no other option you have to go. It was Christmas and Newyear holiday around and price of the ticket was three times more. However, I decided I will attend on the last day, December 21, 2018. 

I started in the evening of 19th December and I reached Patna via Delhi by flight on 20th December and used savaari.com to book a taxi. My return flight was on 11AM on 22nd and hence could not take a risk to start my journey from Madhubani in the morning of 22nd. It means I had to reach Patna by 21st evening itself.  

On 21st morning when I reached the venue, I could see the Rajnagar palace was in two parts. The first part was the premise of a degree college and second part, more magnificent and profusely opulent however in the severe mutilated state was the main remains of the palace. The MLF team had already converted the courtyard of the palace into an open-air theatre. There was an elevated dais for speakers and chairs for the audience. There were numbers of kiosks on the periphery of the courtyard used as a makeshift shop for books, souvenirs, handicraft and various forms of Mithila Painting. In another corner, there was a Machan built for more cozy discussion which was used by ladies for more formal discussion. Other parallel sessions were arranged in the various halls of the first part of the palace (used as degree college).  

The format of the MLF session was a series of a panel discussion. A pre-decided topic was given to the moderator of the panel who opens the session with his thought.  It was followed by the opinion of the other panelist one by one. I attended three such sessions and what I could not find was the intense contradiction. Lack of intense contradiction could be understood in many ways, in many cases, it could be interpreted as a quality of engagement. However, my personal opinion the panelist wanted to be too polite for others and hence the intensity of argument was not big.  

For me networking with who-is-who of Maithili literary world was the main motivation and I was surprised to find “Mr. Girindranath Jha” a former journalist and CSDS researcher who gracefully opted to be a farmer. We were connected through social media and it was so nice to see him there. I also happened to meet Rajneesh K Jha another journalist who has been settled in Madhubani. Subhash Jha my long-term friend was in the organizing team and we met after 9 years almost. I could also meet Prof. Deoshankar Naveen of JNU.  There were many other Sahitya Academy awardees also. 

Since I had a constraint to attend on 21st December only, probably I missed the session on Short Story and Novel writing in which I have been involved since one and a half decade. Rather, I was one of the panelists of Baal-Sahitya. My introduction to this kind of literature was limited to the books that my son is going through. I spoke at my best. I attended three sessions and other sessions were intellectually more refined than ours.  

I could see there were around 60-80 people engaged in my session. In other sessions, this number was more. Some of my friends told me that here only those people are present who has been invited to present something. I could see the number of people purely as an audience was around 50%.  

I could understand that it is a global phenomenon. Prior to this, I have experience of attending lots of conferences on computer science and related areas. In such conferences, authors write a research paper which is reviewed typically by three experts and then they present their respective papers. Every author and other attendees need to register at the conference by paying a good amount. Registration fees of a good international conference are around 1000 USD. Even good Indian conference would cost more than Rs. 30,000. Organizer collects this money to fund expenses of the venue and all activities and logistics. Even in such an international conference that took place in universities, there are limited number of audiences other than the author of the paper themselves.  Therefore, from that point of view, it was truly following the global spirit. Even the weather was not so pleasant.  

It is to be noted that MLF did not have any registration fee or entrance fee like these conferences or like JLF. Therefore, the quality of arrangement was ought to be accordingly.  In three sessions that I attended, I could see the number of audiences was between 60 to 120. I have been told post-panel discussion cultural event was jam-packed and would have more than 300 audiences. This is better than a typical international conference. Therefore, the maiden episode of MLF, in my opinion, was a grand success. I have seen many people have complained about a few things.   

My recommendation for the organizer is following-- (1) Let us introduce research session also. (2) If possible, invite everyone who is pursuing Ph.D. in Maithili in an especially designated session.  (2) Engage more local people to take care of various logistics (3) Have more solo presentation from eminent people.  

I enjoyed being there. It was worth to buy an expensive ticket during this holiday season. Lunch was a truly sumptuous and it reminded me of the Bhoj I use to have in my childhood.   


  1. Superb Bhaiji.. even I am advocating for research session. Sci Fi literature inspire new age technology too.

  2. Wow, cannot wait for next exciting journey like this. When is the next event sir.


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