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Varta – a storytelling festival inspired by South-Asia is a global festival that aims to create an inclusive space where all stories matter. In 2024, our thematic emphasis is on oral storytelling traditions.

Varta, derived from Vartalaap means conversation in Hindustani.

The festival seeks to create spaces where families can immerse themselves in South-Asia inspired storytelling traditions including folk art, dance, music, and literature. Storytelling serves as a living archive of a culture’s richness. Stories celebrate a community’s values, history, and identity. 

In its inaugural year, Varta engaged 3,000 residents, 100+ artists and over 2,000 students from Uttarakhand and other parts of North India sharing folk, literature, and art. In 2024, Varta will include a Storytelling-themed visual montage and moving exhibit, children’s book launches, author panels, storytelling performances, and engagement activities for children. The festival will also launch an accompanying podcast.

We aim to build creative confidence in children so that they can share their stories. We will also explore how to find a balance between preserving cultural authenticity and adapting narratives for the modern world.

Families can also enjoy dance performances, and meet South-Asian creatives during the event. You can join our mailing list for event announcements, and follow us on Instagram to stay updated.

Embrace the tapestry. Celebrate stories and our shared culture.

As per UNESCO, one language is extinct every two weeks. Varta has been an attempt to revive our stories and languages that feed your soul.

Festival Experience

Highlights and agenda

Varta will feature South-Asian artists, writers and storytellers in the library in the heart of South-West Austin, downtown Ann Arbor and Dehradun. The festival is a great way to support your community and find stories.

Oral storytelling from South-Asia: The festival will launch an exhibit of oral storytelling techniques from South-Asia. The moving exhibit will be displayed in the library and will be accompanied by the launch of an audio storytelling project focused on storytelling.

Children’s Storytelling and Activities: Drop-in hands-on story activities! There will be a chance to learn new stories, color on various themes, and celebrate the South-Asian culture with a story performed by local children. We will also have a storytelling performances from artists.

Likhawat creative storytelling panel: Listen to local authors and storytellers on their inspiring journeys.

Dastangoi: Get ready to enjoy an immersive storytelling performance with a desi folk story from ages ago.

Music and Dance performance: Families can also enjoy dance performances from local nonprofits and South-Asian artists.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Varta? Varta is a cultural and literary festival for students and families. The event is a creative space for everyone interested in learning about South-Asian storytelling and culture. Varta was launched in Dehradun, India in 2023 and will be available in Austin, Dehradun, and Ann Arbor in 2024.

Where and when is it held?  Varta was launched in Dehradun, India in 2023 and will be available in Austin, Dehradun, and Ann Arbor in 2024. The details include:

  • March 23, Austin Public Library, Hampton Branch at Convict Hill
  • October 13, Ann Arbor District Library
  • To be announced, Dehradun

Varta has a moving exhibit and program that can be brought to various cities in the United States and Canada. If you are interested, please contact the team at namaste [at] peerbagh [dot] com.

Who organizes it? 

  • Varta at Austin is organized by Peerbagh with the support of the City of Austin’s Economic Development Department’s Elevate Grant. Austin Public Library’s Hampton Branch is a partner and host for the program.
  • Varta in Dehradun will be organized by Peerbagh in partnership with Millennium India Education Foundation. Doon University is a partner and host.
  • Varta in Ann Arbor is organized by partnership with the Ann Arbor District Library. The event is organized with the support of a grant from MAPAAC (Michigan Asian Pacific American Affairs Commission).

What will the event experience be like? 

  • A visual exhibition on South-Asian oral storytelling traditions including folk art, dance, theater, and writing. The exhibit will include panels that will have custom illustrations spotlighting the cultural traditions, alongside descriptions for information.
  • South-Asian writer’s panel, book launches, and book signings
  • Children’s painting, writing, and storytelling events and workshops on art, literature, and culture
  • South-Asian artist and creative spotlights
  • Storytelling and dance performances

What types of partners are accepted? If you would like to exhibit at the event or sponsor some of our activities, please drop us an email at namaste [at] peerbagh [dot] com.

When and how do I apply? If you would like to join as a panelist, or be a part of the programming, please register and let us know. Please fill the registration form here.

How can I stay updated with more information? Joining our mailing list is the best way to be informed of event details. You can also find details on Instagram.