If there’s two things that every resident of Kolkata definitely looks forward to annually, they would be the Durga Puja and the International Kolkata Book Fair. In both cases, this city indulges in celebration. The Kolkata Book Fair – the largest Book Fair in the world – is a twelve-day-long celebration of literature in unparalleled fashion. The Book Fair is proof that Kolkata stays true to its glorious roots of being a hub of intellectual activity. The love for reading is inherent in the ebbs and flows of this great city.
No surprise then, that the sort of buzz created by the onset of the 40th International Kolkata Book Fair has already sky-rocketed. People have marked their calendars, fixed their schedules, blocked their dates to keep those significant evenings free to roam about in Kolkata’s annual festival of knowledge. This year, the Book Fair has only grown bigger and better. More books are available, more publishers have put up their stalls, more notable authors and celebrities from the creative arts fields are scheduled to grace this auspicious occasion, and more and more people are finding it easy to access all elements of the Book Fair, thanks to its significant online presence this year powered by the Online Partners, Kolkata Bloggers.
It was a privilege to represent Kolkata Bloggers as a member of the audience as the Book Fair was formally inaugurated. The stage was all decked up with stars galore – The Chief Guest for the event was Smt. Mamata Banerjee, Honourable Chief Minister of West Bengal. Along with her, were Mr. Jorge Cardenas, His Excellency the Ambassador of Bolivia in India, and Special Guest Mr. Ton Sinh Thanh, His Excellency the Ambassador of Vietnam in India. The inaugurator was esteemed Bolivian author Ms. Magela Baudoin, in keeping with the focal country of this year’s Kolkata Book Fair – Bolivia.
I’ve lived all my life in Kolkata and I’ve seen how inherently ingrained the love for books really is in this city. For the next two weeks, Kolkata looks past all of its differences. For the next two weeks, everybody has one destination. For the next two weeks, Milan Mela becomes the city’s intellectual heart. The International Kolkata Book Fair does evoke such strong feelings in the hearts and minds of thinking residents. Book Fair afternoons are sacred; Book Fair evenings are divine. This gala celebration of the joy of reading sets Kolkata apart from other cities.
The Inauguration of the 40th International Kolkata Book Fair
At the inauguration ceremony, the issues raised were primarily about the nostalgia associated with books, how reading can unite countries across the globe, how the acquisition of knowledge is key to growth of perception and how an event like the International Kolkata Book Fair brings people together like no other. The inauguration also featured the launch of several new books that would debut in the Book Fair this year, including a whopping ten books by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. When Magela Baudoin formally declared the Book Fair open and banged that gavel, I felt a familiar tinge of excitement and anticipation. The Book Fair has always been a special place – occupying a large section of my bookshelf, for instance. However, this year, I was a representative of the Online Partners. It is such a wonderful feeling to see the Kolkata Bloggers logo right up there on the backdrop of the International Kolkata Book Fair. Hopefully, this will be a hugely positive collaboration for all.
I’m pretty sure all of my readers from Kolkata would have a story to tell about their special Book Fair moments. What has been your pick? What are you looking forward to at the 40th International Kolkata Book Fair? I’d love to know what you usually do every year during the Book Fair, and what you are planning this year. Share your stories over social media using the hashtag #boimela and let’s all get to know how this wonderful occasion has shaped our lives.