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We are so excited to welcome y’all to Austin and be a part of Varta – storytelling festival at Austin. This festival has been created with partial support from the Elevate Grant from the City of Austin. Here is what you can expect!

We are grateful to our partners Austin Public Library, BookPeople, Dosa Shack, Lotus Creamery, Swey Designs, and Millennium India Education Foundation for helping us put together the event. Students from several schools across Austin are participating in the event, and we are grateful to parents and kids who are sharing their time.


FREE South-Asia-inspired storytelling festival for the first time in Austin

Performances and stories

1. Puppets with Deeksha Sivakumar

At Varta, Deeksha will be performing a folktale shared among Sufi (Islamic) communities, which she heard while growing up in Dubai around the time of Ramadan from a teacher in her school. The Fable is “The Boy without a Name,” also called “The Nameless.” This story was written down by Idries Shah, a prolific storyteller, and 20th-century thinker from South & Central Asia. The original narrative, though shared orally, has many different versions that all end in the same way. We hope you enjoy the delicately felted wool puppets from Parikatha, who will bring The Nameless to life.

2. Holi Story Book Launch – Prahlad and Nida Learn About Holi

We will be sharing our latest Holi Activity Book with a little story and backstory of how the book came about. This is now available online and books will be available during the event as well.

3. Dastangoi – Hemal and Nagrai a folk love story

Students from Four Points Middle School, Becker and Basis Elementary along with Upasna Kakroo from Peerbagh will share a love story from Kashmir. This comes with dance, music, and a wonderful story you will remember! The story will be retold in English but inspired from the oral storytelling tradition of Dastangoi.

Meet the Creatives and find books!

South-Asian creatives will be present at Varta and many of them are able to sign books. Austin institution, BookPeople will be at Varta from 12-2pm with books. So, come along and immerse yourself in stories and creative spotlights.

1. Aparna Verma and Shuja Uddin: Meet bestselling author, Aparna Verma and filmmaker Shuja Uddin in a wonderful panel. The panel will talk about their creative journey and will be facilitated by Vista Ridge High Schooler, Shriya Achalia.

2. Meet South-Asian creatives: Meet Neha Shah, Dushyant Wadivkar, Irene (Sparks Books), Upasna Kakroo (Peerbagh).

3. Books for signing and purchase: BookPeople will be at Varta for books and signings. Please come and enjoy!

Music and Dance

1. Arya Eledath will kickstart the event with two classical South-Asian songs. It will be fun!

2. The RootEd foundation will be performing Bharatnatyam dance to close the program.

Varta storytelling festival

Deeksha Sivakumar, Storyteller and founder @gubbichoos & from SFO

aparna verma storytelling festival varta

Aparna Verma, Bestselling fantasy author, Phoenix King from Austin

Shuja Uddin, award-winning screenwriter and filmmaker from Austin and Karachi

Neha Shah Meet Buckley Varta Storytelling Festival

Neha Shah, children’s book writer and author of Meet Buckley, a bilingual Hindi-English book from Texas. Neha is also the founder of the app, Kaboo.

Varta storytelling festival austin

Arya Eledath is a UT junior and classical singer who will be performing at Varta.

Irene Sparks Books Storytelling Festival

Irene Kang is an author and founder of Sparks Books with books in Hindi, Chinese, and Korean.

Upasna Kakroo Varta literary fest

Upasna Kakroo leads Peerbagh and is the author of 3 books for children.

Varta storytelling festival rooted foundation

Sumathi Vikram is the co-founder of the Rooted Foundation and a Dancer in Austin.


Dushyant Wadivkar is a tech leader and the author of a children’s book, 20odle 20o.

Children’s Activities and FOOD!

1. With Holi coming right after the event, we will have Holi-inspired coloring for kids. At the end of the event, we will have Holi colors too! We also have FREE gifts for kids and families.

2. FREE South-Asia inspired Ice creams from Lotus Creamery will be made available between 12-3pm.

3. We will also have food catered from Dosa Shack. They will bring a Bombay Sandwich and Uttapam that you can enjoy.

Storytelling Exhibition and South-Asian Heritage

1. Peerbagh presents Varta storytelling exhibition will be displayed at the meeting room in the library. This exhibit shares 13 storytelling techniques from all over South-Asia and the posters comprise of handmade illustrations and information about the various art forms.

2. University of Texas at Austin, South-Asia institute: The institute will be showcasing South-Asian heritage and informative materials during the event.

Please share, connect, and meet with us on March 23rd from 10:30 am to 3:30pm. We can’t wait to bring this storytelling festival to Austin for the first time.