Why Kabir rocks our world today

With folk music recitals, film screenings and stories about the life and teachings of the 15th century poet-saint Kabir, the three-day long  Kabir Festival is bound to strike a chord with Mumbai's audiences even as the simplicity and relevance of Kabir's teaching take centrestage

Nearly 200 or more people are currently involved in making sure the Kabir Festival goes on smoothly, and none of them are going to make any profit out of it.

With ghoongat on her head and a mike in her hand, folk singer
Bhanwari Devi is a powerful performer of Kabir poetry

They are volunteers who joined Priti Turakhia, to ensure that the message of Kabir reaches out to as many people as possible. The result of it was that the second edition of the Kabir festival came to become a community event.
"People have been contributing in whatever way possible. Some have given money, some their homes, others have lent vehicles and many have given their time and effort.

What started off being organised by six to eight people soon took a turn to become a community event," says Priti, who took the initiative to organise the first Kabir Festival in Mumbai last year.

When Priti heard Shabnam Virmani, director of the Kabir Project, sing at a few Kabir festivals, she decided she wanted to organise a festival in Mumbai as well and that is how it started.

Folk musician Mukhtiyar Ali represents the 26th generation of
his community which has successfully kept alive the
oral tradition of Sufiana Qalam

"A lot of people were overwhlemed by the music," says Priti talking about last year's experience. "The essence of the songs, music and words touch the heart. For me, it was simple, if it has touched my heart, why not let others be touched by it too?," she reiterates.

"When I attended one of the satsanghs (gatherings) at Priti's house, I was enchanted by the music. The music, which was sung with just a tambura for accompaniment was so powerful.

I decided I want to be part of the festival. And after last year's festival I felt I can take on anything in life," says Pankti Shah, who is part of the organising committee for the festival. "Kabir tells you about love and human values. The music and words make me feel elated. It makes me want to dance with joy," adds Pankti.

Folk musicians from Rajasthan, Kutch and Malwa will participate in this three-day festival that begins today. Apart from the music, there will also be film screenings and story telling sessions on the life and teachings of Kabir.

Ameetha Singh will be presenting a dramatic monologue for children  from the book Kabir the weaver poet. "I become the thread on Kabir's loom as I tell his story.

I share with kids about the love and compassion Kabir that had and how everyone is equal. The most important message I take from him is that we are all one and that is how we should live," says Ameetha.

Mukhtiyar Ali, who performed at the festival last year as well says he was overwhelmed by the response. "Many people were moved by the music and a few people even came to meet me at my place is Rajasthan later," says Mukhthiyar Ali, who is the 26th generation folk singer in his family.

"The most beautiful part is that the festival is free and people from all walks of life can come to see it," he adds. Mukhtiyar has been performing devotional music for 15 years at different festivals. This year, he plans to sing Meerabai and Bulle Shah along with Kabir.
"I think of Kabir as my life. His teachings are so beautiful and they make daily living so simple.
Love everyone, don't differentiate based on caste, creed or religion, stay away from jealousy and greed, and live a simple life. Such beauty in his teachings can touch so many lives. I can't imagine my life without Kabir's bhajans," he adds.

On February 17 to 19
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