Recently I got a chance to visit Saurashtra Book Fair 2020 which was held in Rajkot, Gujarat, India – from 25th January 2020 to 29th January 2020. It was a memorable experience for me and I am delighted that our team had given me this opportunity.
I will not share details like who organized, inaugurated, and made successful this fantastic event and other stuff which is already available on their official website, (which I highly recommend you to visit):
Let me share some of my experiences, findings, and detail about this event.
How can anything related to reading start without paying respect to – Sarasvati – the godess of knowledge (in broad meaning). In fact, we used to pray to her in our school also and it thus became a part of our lifestyle.
या कुन्देन्दु तुषारहारधवला या शुभ्रवस्त्रावृता
या वीणावरदण्डमण्डितकरा या श्वेतपद्मासना ।
या ब्रह्माच्युतशङ्करप्रभृतिभिर्देवैस्सदा पूजिता
सा मां पातु सरस्वती भगवती निश्शेषजाड्यापहा ॥ १॥
And, we are proud of those values implanted in us at a very young age. We still bow down to a book or even a printed paper or newspaper if by mistake our feet touch it. Only our civilization has these great qualities.
When you enter into the corridors of the book fair, you will see a huge portrait of Devi Sarasvati with the slogan “SahityaNo Ashwamedh Yagna”. What a beautiful thought elaborated through this slogan.
Almost all the entrances has welcome banners with the logo of “Saurashtra Book Fair” and the slogan “Vanche Rajkot, Vanche Gujarat” (“Vanche” == Reading).
It is a modified version of one of the slogans made popular by Shri Narendra Modi – the current prime minister of India – who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, as a reading awareness drive. The thought is very important, inspirational and motivational.
I also like the way the opening corridor is surrounded by photographs of various legendary Gujarati authors whose contribution to the literature (not only Gujarati) is remarkable. Let me share them with you.
All these photographs are arranged in such a fantastic way that visitors stopped there to take selfies with them. It is a thoughtful way to spread awareness about these remarkable authors and introduce them to the current young generation.
There are roughly more than a 100 bookstalls in this fair, and the book I found was in English, Hindi, Gujarati and some on Sanskrit too. Most of the book vendors I got a chance to talk to are from Delhi and Ahmedabad in addition to those from Rajkot itself. Various books were available at highly discounted rates. Some were at flat rate of Rs. 10, Rs. 20, Rs. 30, Rs. 50, Rs. 100, Rs. 150, Rs. 200 and so on. Some book sets were also available at competitive rates.
Some rare Gujarati books, which are now out of print, were for stock clearance and were available as 10 books for Rs. 100 (effectively 10 Rs. per book). Some interesting titles were there. I bought some of them and felt emotional that these books may no longer be circulated in the coming time.
The books available at cheap rates were not only paperback versions but hardcovers also! The page quality was something to be checked when you purchase.
Even, some stationery items, wall posters (including those of Gods, motivational and inspirational thoughts, etc..), educational aids, binoculars and other kids’ special stuff were also available.
There were some stores dedicated to educational books (for various competitive exams, regular courses and much more). So does spiritual books. So, there was something for almost everyone who visits the book fair.
The only thing I found needed improvement was the way the visitors’ path was arranged. It was one way, so you need to return to the first stall from the last (or wherever you are) in order to exit. There were no intermediate exits. Of course, it must have been arranged that way for administrative and security reasons. But a person who bought many books from say stall number 91, will find it difficult to carry them all with him/her back to the entrance.
We are already sharing many of the photos from various stalls and the interesting books I’ve spotted in this book fair, on our social media handles, so I am avoiding them here.
One more thing, I came to notice in this book fair, is the pre-launch of “Rajkot Book Reader’s Club“.
If you want to become a member of Rajkot Book Reader’s Club, you can contact Mr. Jignesh Kothari. His mobile number is +91 94290 51353. (Please make sure to not to send unimportant and/or spam messages to him). There is a pre-designed form you need to fill and your name will be considered. The function area of the Reader’s club and the activities to be conducted by it, will be revealed on its formal launching and it will be kept updated based on the members’ suggestions. It would be too early to say anything about it, but, it is definitely a good initiative, which will help like-minded readers to share their experiences, book reviews and other stuff, to enrich each other. And yes, I found Mr. Jignesh a humble and polite human being who has a good vision for this club.
When you visit any book fair, you will see kids related books, or special stalls for them. But, as far as I know it is rare to find any recreation corner for kids, where they can enjoy within the premises of the book fair. I found such an interesting “Kids Corner” in this book fair. I got a chance to meet Mr. Neeraj Patel, the principal of “R. P. Bhalodia College” of Rajkot. He is the man behind this initiative. I found him very polite and humble. He was enthusiastic about sharing his thoughts and vision behind the stuff.
The idea is to have some fun activities for kids. Daily different activities are arranged in different slots; like drawing, games, etc. The judges were from different third party institutions or organizations, so there will be no bias. All the participants are entitled to a certificate and some other stuff. Various volunteers were found serving this cause. An important thing I want to share about this zone is, only kids are allowed on the premises, not even their parents. Only participating kids, volunteers who conduct and assist the activities and management team are allowed in the dome. And yes, as Mr. Patel shared they took care of every single child entered the premises. They took care of them as their own, till they are safely returned to their respective parents. He also shared that the volunteers even help children visiting washrooms and not leaving them alone while they are their responsibility. It is good to hear. Mr. Patel shared many things, his motivation and his vision behind all the activities he does. And yes, he invited us to visit his college campus too. We are honored and we will someday plan it for sure.
There are various guest lectures arranged throughout the book fair. People from various fields are invited as guest speakers. All of them are well known in their respective fields and popular among the people too. I admire many of them and got a chance to hear some of them previously. Due to my tight schedule, it was possible for me to attend only two lectures on 26th January in the afternoon session. And, I was lucky that both the lectures I was most keen about, were arranged in that slot only! Wow! I am grateful!
I heard Dr. Sharad Thakar talking about “Veer Savarkar” and Mr. Harshal Pushkarna talking about “Indian Soldier: My SuperHero”. Both the lectures were fantastic. Not only from the oratory point-of-view. But, the way it was full of factual and well-researched information, is something not to be missed.
We, the current generation has breathed our first in the free country. So, it is quite possible that we don’t feel the emotions of the people who fought for the freedom of the nation, and, even loved to sacrifice their lives for the motherland. They are and should be our real heroes. On the theme of patriotism, the organizers came up with an interesting idea. As we see, people these days take selfies almost everywhere! How interesting it would be to have selfies with some of the freedom-fighters?
Well, those legends cannot come back in their physical form now. But, the organizers dressed up 3 persons as Late Chandra Shekhar Azad, Late Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, and Late Rani Laxmibai and, allowed people to have a selfie with them. You may have your point of view about it, but, I like the concept. I took photographs of them. And, here I am sharing them with you.
I got a chance to know about this during one of my visits to the book fair. I am not sure, if this program was extended in reference to other freedom-fighter also.
It was a fantastic book-fair. It has everything one wants to see in a book fair. From literature to guest lectures, from patriotism to kids related stuff,… And yes, some fantastic book deals too. I feel that the book catalog should have been even bigger and broader. Let’s hope for the same :).