Kabir for today's times

His words have been shared, sung and recited and even printed in textbooks since the 15th century, and they still ring true. It is these words of Saint Kabir that will add peace and melody at different venues in the city as part of The Kabir Festival.

Prahlad Tipanya will be singing Kabir Vani in the Malwa Folk style

The festival has been inspired by the Kabir Project, comprising of documentary films and recordings of music inspired by Kabir, made by documentary film maker Shabhnam Virmani on her travels with folk singers after the Godhra riots.

These documentaries and performances have been a part of the festival held across India and abroad. The project seemed apt at that time to re-introduce the world to the secular teaching of the mystic, post the disturbances in Gujarat.

Wandering folk singers or Bauls from Bengal, Parvathy Baul and Lakshman Das Baul

Now in its third edition in the city, the festival has several new performances lined up for those wishing to get introduced to the works of Kabir through
different forms.

“Mumbai isn’t particularly familiar with Baul culture, and this year the city will witness live performances by Lakshman Das and Parvathy Baul,” says Priti Turakhia co-director of the festival, who also conducts workshops regularly in the city that introduce the works of Kabir to people from across different fields.

A still from the documentary Had Anhadi by Shabhnam Virmani

Apart from Baul performances (Bauls are wandering Bengali Folk musicians whose songs are inspired by Kabir’s works), one can also look forward to singer Rahul Deshpande’s performance; he will be singing the Kumar Gandharva style of Nirguni Bhajans inspired by Kabir’s sayings, “When Kumar Gandharva was ill and not allowed to sing, he heard the Malwa Folk music and rendered it in his Classical way later, which is what Rahul Deshpande will be performing,” informs Turakhia.

If you wish to listen to the original folk style of Malwa, Madhya Pradesh, head to the main event of the festival — Prahlad Tipanya’s performance at the Gateway of India at 6.30 am on January 12. Prahladji will perform the traditional Kabir Vani followed by a performance by Deshpande. Apart from the musical performances, the documentaries by Virmani and Tanvir Mokammel will also help relate Kabir’s works in
today’s age.

From January 9 to 13
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