The 2019 edition of the ‘Republic Pondy Lit Fest’ themed ‘Bharat Shakti’ was held from September 27 to September 29 at the Shenbaga Convention Centre in Puducherry. Lieutenant Governor (Lt. Gov) of Puducherry Kiran Bedi inaugurated the event. The Lieutenant Governor began her speech by talking about the Tamil Writer S. Vaidyalingam a.k.a Prapanchan:
“He was famous as a fictional writer, he was a recipient of several such coveted awards. Most of his fictional writing is based on Pondicherry’s literature, history and culture”, she said
Bedi went on to talk about temples and how she was amazed by the inscriptions present on the walls. “Pondicherry in its small region has 232 temples and are bearers of institutional memory,” she added, “during my years as Lieutenant Governor I have visited almost all of the major temples in the region for water. I start to look at the ponds, how are they maintaining the ponds are they clean or are they not. Bedi joked her visits to the temples, “was more for inspection of water.” It was this inspection of water that led Lt.Gov Bedi to the “deities and inscription spreads.” Bedi was amazed by the presence of inscriptions inscribed on the walls of temples and it occurred to her that in reality, these are the interpretations of history and its literature.
Speaking about the inscriptions on the temple walls, Bedi spoke of the need to study them in order to be able to reconstruct and understand the history of the region. “As tourists when you go for temple tourism you can not make out anything if you do not understand Tamil, and that Tamil on these temple walls goes back to further ancient times but it is all there and it is so rich and for the Tamilians, it is a feast,” Bedi said. There is a presence of history and it has been noted on such temple walls, she said, giving an example of a temple in Bahour where there is a presence of a rare inscription of the Rashtrakuta King.
Inaugurating the literary fest, Bedi spoke about Sri Aurobindo and said he is the “shining beacon” of national devotion, patriotism and literature, “he was also very well educated in English, Latin, Sanskrit and Greek. Sri Aurobindo will always be an example of literature with global appeal.” She added that his Epic Savitri is one of the finest examples of a “sensitive mind exploring his deeper culture and his historical memory.” Studying Savitri helps you find several layers of meaning, she said, “making it undoubtedly a classic.”
The Sri Aurobindo to this day continues to publish his literary works which now encompasses nearly 100 volumes. “We at the Raj Nivas are the biggest user of the Ashram Printing Press. It is only for the Raj Nivas do they work on Sunday,” she said. In conclusion and in welcoming the Key Note Speakers, participants and other guests, Lt.Gov Bedi said that she hopes that, “Pondicherry Literary festival dedicates itself to the task of exploring the multi-dimensional, thinker, writer and philosopher.”