Agra, March 10 (IANS) A three-day SAARC festival of literature began here Sunday with a call for concerted efforts to raise eco-consciousness and resist predatory policies that devour nature and its components.
The theme of this year's festival is "Environment and Literature".
"As the Himalayan glaciers shrink, sea levels rise and green patches are replaced by ugly bald terrain. It is only befitting that the pen-wielders of the SAARC region put up a united front against polluters and predators," said Ajeet Caur, president of the foundation of SAARC writers and literature.
The festival is being attended by delegates from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Nepal and India.
More than 15 delegates from Pakistan attending the festival stressed on commonalities and desired peace and good-neighbourly relations.
The SAARC literary awards went to writers from Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan.
"This annual meet of writers acquires special importance in the context of the continuing conflicts in the SAARC region based on language, ethnicity, religion and culture. We believe that literature cannot exist in total isolation from lived culture. Dreams of our future shall emerge from this shared identity, contributory history and participatory destiny," Caur told IANS.
Sri Lankan writer Daya Dissanayake said: "Woman is to nature what man is to culture. This idea has been hijacked, distorted and misinterpreted by the male dominated society."
Jharna Rehman, a writer from Bangladesh, said women and nature were closely related.
Pakistan's Farheen Choudhary said: "Natural disasters are the worst part of environmental issues, creating mass graves, dislocations of people, food scarcity, health problems and even psychological issues. Surprisingly, writers didn't pay much attention to the subject particularly in south Asia."