The 40th International Kolkata Book Fair has created plenty of buzz and generated anticipation from Kolkata and beyond, with people awaiting the biggest literary event in town to start off once again. The Book Fair has increased in stature from an exhibition phenomenon for publishers and authors, to a celebration of literature and the arts from all over the world.
On Monday, 25th January 2016, the International Kolkata Book Fair was formally inaugurated in a ceremony attended by various dignitaries. 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.
The Inauguration Ceremony took place at the SBI Auditorium inside the Milan Mela grounds, beginning at 5:30 pm. To start off this auspicious occasion, students of Adamas Knowledge Institute put up a musical performance of popular songs, culminating in the national anthems of Bolivia and India. It was then the turn of the distinguished dignitaries to speak about the Book Fair and about their associations.
His Excellency, the Ambassador of Bolivia to India, Mr. Jorge Cardenas spoke about Bolivia being this year’s focal country for the International Kolkata Book Fair and about the literary and cultural heritage that both these countries share. His Excellency, the Ambassador of Vietnam to India, Mr. Ton Sinh Thanh also spoke about how he was pleased with the Kolkata Book Fair bringing out the facets of Vietnamese literature. He also expressed his hope for cultural links to be established and exchanged between the two countries.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee then took the stage, thanking all organizers of the Book Fair for once again putting together this annual extravaganza. She spoke about how the romance of books and the essence of reading can never be replaced. The Book Fair is one of many quintessential things that define Kolkata as the City of Joy. The Book Fair has made its place in Bengal’s history, and has become a part of our tradition. People in Kolkata and from all over the world look forward to the Kolkata Book Fair every year. The Honourable Chief Minister then spoke about how thrilled she was to associate with Bolivian authors and artists as part of the focal theme, before expressing her desire that the Book Fair grows in stature and inspires more and more people to take to reading every year. True knowledge and enlightenment can be found amidst pages of books.
The Chief Minister then presented the “Sahitya Samman Award” to veteran author Nimai Bhattacharya for his contribution to the field of literature. Following this, the Kolkata Book Fair Calendar was unveiled, and the official anthem of the Book Fair was performed live on stage.
It was then the turn for significant new book launches to be highlighted. The Chief Minister and other dignitaries launched several books, including ten written by the Honourable Chief Minister herself. These books will all find a place among many stalls at this edition of the International Kolkata Book Fair.
The Book Fair was then formally inaugurated by the Guest Inaugurator, eminent Bolivian novelist Ms. Magela Baudoin, by ceremoniously banging the gavel to signify the Book Fair open. The Book Fair, held at the Milan Mela ground, will be open to the general public from 12 noon on 26th January, Tuesday. This literary celebration will go on till the 7th of February, with notable sessions being held all along, and especially with the Kolkata Literature Festival being held from 4th to 6th February, 2016.
From the organizers of the 40th International Kolkata Book Fair, we hope to see you around this fortnight. Read books, gift books, collect books, fall in love with books all over again. We hope you have a wonderful time at this year’s Book Fair.