Everything is different for us in the last week of the year. And when we are in Wayanad, it is even more different.
Wayanad Literature Festival, or the WLF, is organised by the people who grew up in the hill district of Wayanad, which sits at the tri-junction of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, the three south Indian states. We speak Malayalam, but we understand both our neighbouring cultures. We grow the spices for the world. But our taste buds are diverse. We read widely, we write and we create. Tucked in a biological hotspot, we also breathe fresh air, which we gladly offer to every visitor. The Wayanad Literature Festival offers an opportunity for the people of Wayanad and its adjoining areas to set aside their regular chores to engage with their favourite authors, musicians, artists and public intellectuals. In return, the visitors get to be with some commoners.
The festival director is Dr. Vinod K. Jose, the journalist who went from the Wayanadan hills to climb even bigger heights in New York and New Delhi. In 24 years of his journalism, he worked as an editor in the public radio in the US to the Caravan magazine in India’s capital, but he says it was the Yuvadhara library in Pulikkad village, and the Pazhassi library in Mananthavady town that opened the window of the world for him.
The curator of the festival is VH Nishad, the short story writer. Nishad has written 24 books in Malayalam language. His day job, however, is to teach journalism in Sir Syed College, Thaliparamba. His earlier day jobs were in journalism, first as the Literary Editor in Free Press, and later as an editor in India Today and the Times of India. Nishad bows down to books, and likes to get lost in a drive in a Wayanadan village. This is the 25th year of Nishad’s writing career.
The second curator is Dr. Joseph K Job, the famous critic in Malayalam. Joseph headed the Malayalam department in Mary Matha College, Mananthavady until his retirement in early 2022. Most recently, Joseph translated Arundhati Roy to Malayalam.
The chief executive manager is Jefrin Tom.
The Organising Committee is headed by Justin Baby, the president of the Mananthavady Block Panchayat and HB Pradeep Kumar, the president of the Edavaka Grama Panchayat. There are nine committees that work under the Organising Committee. Over sixty community leaders work in these committees, making the WLF truly a participatory event of the local people. They include school teachers, farmers, small businessmen, auto rickshaw drivers, porters, and sound engineers, but one thing is common between them–their love for literature and debate.