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Welsh language celebrated at one of the world’s largest literary festivals

One of the largest literature festivals in the world with a footfall of 2.1 million people began on the 26th of January in Kolkata, India with the UK as the designated focus country.

Welsh Government has announced that 2024 is the year of Wales in India. Year-long celebrations will bring the two countries together through a series of events, stories and activities and celebrate the two cultures.

To kick start the year, Bardd Plant Cymru (Welsh Language Children’s Laureate), Nia Morais led a panel discussion at the Kolkata Literature Festival, hosted children’s literature sessions and discussions on the Welsh Language.

As part of the International Kolkata Book Fair, the Kolkata Literature Festival is one of the largest literature festivals in the world with c.2.1 million attendees and is situated in north-east India.

Nia Morais is Bardd Plant Cymru for 2023-2025 which is a national ambassadorial role aiming to inspire and empower children and young people through literature. She is a writer and playwright from Cardiff, Wales focusing on self-image, mental health and magic. The scheme is run by Literature Wales with the support of Welsh Government, S4C, Books Council of Wales and Urdd Gobaith Cymru.

Nia Morais – Bardd Plant Cymru – (Welsh Language Children’s Laureate) said:

“One of my main aims as Bardd Plant Cymru is to help young people in Wales to tap into their creativity and to have fun playing with words in Welsh. I want to prove not only that anyone can be a creative, but also that Welsh can be used outside the classroom.

“We are a nation with a strong cultural heritage, and a language and cultural identity that is evolving every day: so, using Welsh to create can help Wales’ children to dream up a fair, green, and kind future for our country.”

Mitch Theaker, Wales’ First Diplomat to India and Head of India for the Welsh Government said:

“Wales in India 2024 is all about showcasing the best of our country and strengthening relations between two nations of culture and innovation. The festival is a remarkable platform to showcase our language and our distinct identity in front of 2.1 million people. The UK is built up of distinct countries, each rightly proud of their languages, histories, identities, and cultures.

“This event marks yet another chapter in the rich linguistic and cultural exchanges between Wales and India. Our joint efforts to celebrate and strengthen our unique languages, has revealed the profound depth of our mutual connections. As we move though the year, we look forward to shining a brighter spotlight on these shared bonds in the spirit of respect and learning.”

Nicola Morgan from Wales Arts International said:

‘Across 2024, the Year of Wales and India offers new opportunity to celebrate and deepen the longstanding creative links between the two nations. As the UN International Decade of Indigenous Languages enters its third year, its particularly exciting for Nia, in her role as Bardd Plant Cymru, to have been invited to the Kolkata Literature Festival.

Through her collaboration with Bangla poets and workshops sharing the diverse stories and identities of Wales through the Welsh Language, she has formed new connections with the crowds of young audiences who live their daily lives through multiple languages. The arts offer an important way of listening to other languages and cultures as well as a powerful tool to share different lived experiences and identities.’

Nia’s main objective as Bardd Plant Cymru, is to help create opportunities for children and young individuals to express their thoughts on subjects that are important to them, and rare in Welsh literature. Nia believes in demonstrating that the Welsh language is inclusive for all, promoting a culture of positivity and respect.