Kabir in the digital age
The sixth edition of the Kabir Festival Mumbai, a confluence of poetry, music and stories will celebrate the unifying message of the mystic saint in our times
The Kabir Festival is back in 2016, with a four-day celebration that will feature over 30 artistes, 17 events, three workshops, three story narrations spread across 13 locations in the city, from Fort to Borivali and Byculla. The festival that began in 2011, has attempted to spread the verses of poet-saints to mohallas, NGO spaces, colleges, communities and institutions through folk-style bhajans, abhangs, qawwalis, Baul songs sung by rural and urban artistes from around the country, films, stories, dance and discussion.
A labour of love, the festival is volunteer-run and materialises through people volunteering time, expertise and facilities, coupled with a shoestring budget funded by the Kabir Community of Mumbai comprising ordinary citizens and like-minded community-based venue and hospitality associates. The community is bound in its belief that the mystic poets of the sub-continent, like Kabir, Bulleh Shah, Tukaram, Meerabai, have a message in their poetry which is even more relevant today than their own.
"We bring poetry to the people through performances of various rural artistes who have carried it through the oral tradition and the urban artistes who have been inspired by it to create a newer idiom of presentation," explains 29-year-old Pankti Shah, a theatre professional and a member of the Kabir Community of Mumbai.
"We are trying to make this festival as inclusive as possible. All events are free and open to the public. We choose locations like bookshops, schools and colleges, footpath amphitheaters, gardens and even the streets," she adds, before rushing back to last-minute preparations before D-Day.
Radhika Sood Nayak
On: January 7 to 10
Log on to: www.thekabirfest.com for the full schedule
>> Malwi bhajans with Padma Shri Prahlad Singh Tipanya about his journey with Kabir
>> Baiths of Sindhi Sufi poet Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai in a collaboration between Mooralala Marwada of Kutch and Shabnam Virmani and Vipul Rikhi of The Kabir Project in Bengaluru.
>> A depiction of the poetry and life of Gyaneshwar through Marathi abhangs sung by Shruthi Vishwanath
>> Experience Lalon Fakir’s life and poetry through an exposition by the acclaimed Parvathy Baul
>> Qawwalis explored by non-qawwali artists, Dev Narayan Sarolia, Bindhu Malini Narayanaswamy, Vedanth Bharadwaj, Vijay Tipanya, Ajay Tipanya and Dharmendra Tipanya, who are from different classical and folk music traditions
>> Stories like Dastan Jai Ram Ji Ki based on the myriad versions of Ramayanas told by dastangoi Ankit Chadha and directed by Mahmood Farooqui
>> Shoonya Ghad Shahar where Shabnam Virmani and Vipul Rikhi explore shoonya in Kabir poetry through discussion, film clips and music