Gul Agha Ahmadi Wardak
The 57th literary festival or the annual conference of the SAARC member countries writers and poets were held in New Delhi, India on 18, 19 and 20th October 2019. The SAARC seven member countries writers and poets participated in this academic and cultural festival. The counties were: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka. The Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature -FOSWAL is responsible for conducting this major international and scholarly gathering, facilitating Indian visas for the participants, hosting and inviting writers from the SAARC Member countries to New Delhi. Writers and participates in this annual conference take part according to an effective planned agenda. In addition, this annual festival has an interesting opening ceremony, in which leadership of FOSWAL, a number of academics and senior guests and one representative delegate from each SAARC member country present their speech and country report.
The primary purposes of SAARC Festivals are to take part in the regional peace process, to perform a decisive role in this regard, to make the writers respect different cultures of participants and to make them aware of those cultures, to make extensive familiarization among scholars who are members of SAARC countries, to share the experiences and knowledge with each other. Likewise, an opportunity will be made among the authors, poets, scholars, artists, and different groups of SAARC countries members to get aware of their cultural activities.
Also, some other purposes of the SAARC Literary Festival are to play a positive role in promoting peace in SAARC region, working for a bright thinking, rising awareness and respecting different cultures among the participants, writers, poets and scholars of SAARC countries. This festival is also conducting to create a common understanding among writers, sharing knowledge and experiences with each other, expanding the process of interpersonal relationships and identities of writers, poets, scholars, artists, and members of SAARC member countries, literary and cultural ideas, exchange information with each other about literary and cultural activities in SAARC member countries, scientific and cultural lives, experiences, presenting solidarity shows of colourful cultures and so on. A large number of SAARC festivals have been held in the capital of India (New Delhi), but some of its events were held in Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Maldives, and Nepal as well.
The common language of the SAARC organization is English, and some famous and known scholars from SAARC member countries has been inviting for this conference who are mainly writers and are famous literary figures in their respective countries, engaged in cultural and literary affairs and can speak English. Also, the writers and poets should be able to get a two-way airplane ticket for them, and are expected to be a good representative of his/ her country, and should be able to read his poetry or paper at such a literary festival in English. However, many of these authors are well-known scientific, cultural or artistic figures in their respective countries and have written or printed works.
Afghanistan officially became a member of SAARC organization in 2007, but even in the year of 2000, two authors from Afghanistan attended the SAARC Literary Festival and presented translations of their Pashto and Dari poems in the English language. After that, every year 10 up to 20 Afghan writers have been officially inviting to every SAARC Literary festival, which is likely to be held in New Delhi
Gul Agha Ahmadi Wardak, the author of this report from Afghanistan, also attended the 57th SAARC Literary Festival, presented the cultural report of Afghanistan for 2019, introducing his new book in English during the conference. In collaboration with the Afghan Writers’ Delegation, members awarded a gold medal to the founder of the festival, Ms. Ajeet Cour Padma Shari, from the Global Peace Stars Award Foundation, gifted with representatives of FOSWAL administrative staff and writers from SAARC countries with dried fruit of Afghanistan and presented his poem in English. The number of 18 Afghan writers and poets participated in the 2019 annual SAARC Writers’ Festival from Afghanistan, whose names are: Mansoor Nassimy, Gul Agha Ahmadi Wardak, Shamsulhaq Hairan, Najib Manali, Partaw Naderi, Ghulam Hazrat Nabi Pur, Naheed Hakimi, Parasto Yari, Sameera Rasa, Faresa Khazan, Noorgal Shafaq, Javed Verbal, Womaan Niazi, Lalma Womaan, Dia Singh Anjan, Asadullah Dawoodi, Rihanna Ferogh, Shakeela Wajdi, Semin Husseini and Khairya Maheshid. A delegation of Afghan writers was led by Mr. Mansoor Nassimy and Afghan writers and poets attended the literary
festival brilliantly, their unity and patriotism were destined, and their literary presence and luminous activity led to this literary. Other participants of the festival were impressed by seeing a positive and peaceful picture of Afghanistan.
A short history
The foundation of the SAARC Literary Festival was established in 1986 and the first writers’ conference was held in New Delhi in 1987. The name of this literary festival was initially The SAARC Literature Festival, which was renamed to the South Asian Literature Festival because of Pakistan’s non-participation to the events. The founder of the SAARC Literary Festival is Ms. (Ajeet Cour Padma Shri) and a number of well-known writers of India and the scholars and academics of scientific institutions. The FOSWAL Foundation operates as a non-governmental organization and is hosting twice-a-year literary festivals and conferences of scholars, poets, artists, and writers from all member countries of SAARC except Pakistan. With this literary foundation, the SAARC Organization, Government of India, Scientific Institutes of India and some international organizations cooperate with FOSWAL to hold this literary festival.
Names, pictures and short biographies of men and women writers invited to this literary festival from the SAARC member countries recorded in a catalog by FOSWAL. The catalogue has printed before the annual festival and distributed to the authors and poets, and the biographies of each author are read by the director of the chairperson of sessions before hearing and presenting his words.
The agenda of the SAARC Literary Meeting is interesting, which begins after the registration of delegates from SAARC member countries. After that putting soft shawls of Kashmir Pashmina on the guest shoulders, pouring red flower leaves in a pot full of water by senior guests, addressing speeches of the guests, assigning medals to particular writers, presenting gifts to special guests and so on. The second part of the agenda is the introduction of the newly published book in the current year, the exhibition of books and the briefing of authors. The third section called for a special session for poetry, prose, short stories, which lead by directors. In each session contains up to five poets or writers and four or five sessions held during the day. The fourth section of the agenda is artistic programs and probably takes place later in the evening, in which songs are sung by well-known local singers and local dances are performed. Other days of the SAARC Literary Festival have similarly colorful programs, and the first half of the last day of the festival will include closing sessions, presentations of the vote of thanks, and resolution of the authors of the SAARC member countries writers. The second half of the same day is devoted to a delegation round-trip, which includes a short visit to some of the area’s most popular attractions in New Delhi. At the SAARC Literary festival, a number of books are freely given to the participants of the event, provided by the FOSWAL administration, and some authors also distribute their newly published works to other authors.
SAARC or the (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) Organization is an economic, political, cultural, and geographic organization that eight countries have its membership located in South Asia. Members of the SAARC organization are Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The combined population of these countries amounts to about one and a half billion people, which is the fifth part of the population of the world. The idea of the SAARC organization was first proposed by the former president of Bangladesh, Mojib al-Rahman, which was confirmed in Colombo in 1981 by India, Pakistan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka. However, the SAARC Foundation was set up on December 8, 1985, during a leadership meeting in the capital city of Dhaka of Bangladesh, where leaders from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal India, Pakistan, Maldives, and Sri Lanka were attended. Afghanistan was admitted to SAARC Organization in 2005 was accepted as a member of the SAARC Organization. Also, the SAARC has observer members who have maintained and extended their close relationship with the United Nations, the European Community, and many other international organizations. The main goal of the organization is self-sufficiency and the regulation of economic relations, cultural, health, social, energy, agriculture, rural development, human resource development, transport, telecommunication, journalism, and so on. The SAARC Organization has regular annual meetings of leadership that held in the centers of the member countries, which annually hosts foreign ministers of the member states.