14 January 2011

Bombay Hub, Bandra

And the festival kick-started today with a storytelling session and a film screening!

While the storytelling will be dealt with in detail later, the first film screening of The Kabir Festival Mumbai, presented by Mahindra took place in a cozy little corner of Bombay.

The Hub, is a space where people with a passion for change can collect, network and share ideas, and this is exactly what we did today.

Koi Sunta Hai, was the film that was screened. It is a film that uses the journey Kumar Ghandharva shared with Kabir as a means to take a look at the manifold ways in which Kabir is approached and assimilated. While the audience was a small one, the impact of the film was seen almost instantaneously as the music of Kabir, in the prodigy Gandharva’s swar trickled into the room. A delightful, quiet and very serene evening to commemorate the beginning of a 10 day celebration of self reflection.

15th January 2011

Manjunath College, Dombivali

The second day of the festival began with an event organized by Akshara and Manjunath College. This was a zonal event which meant that it was open to all students in colleges in and around Dombivali.

Around 150 students from colleges across Dombivali, Ulhas Nagar and Badlapur, gathered in the late morning to listen to Neela Bhagwat sing a handful of dohas accompanied by discussions of the same. After being serenaded and given some food for thought, the students were witness to a screening of Had-Anhad.

A film of song and poetry, with ideas regarding the transcending of boundaries, Had-Anhad is a journey in search of Kabir’s Ram. This was followed by a discussion rightly facilitated by Irfan Engineer. Who better to speak of boundaries and their breaking than a staunch promoter of Peace. The students carried the discussion forward with their inquisitiveness and the afternoon ended with enough material to chew upon for a long while to come.


The main thrust of the Festival is exposure: introducing the message and music of Kabir to as many people as possible, especially the youth. In light of this, two storytelling sessions were organized with children, facilitated by Ameeta Singh. In fact, the Festival’s first event was a storytelling session at Cuffe Parade with the children of Down To Earth, followed by another session with BODH at G.D. Somani School, on the very next day.

Jaya Madhavan’s Kabir, the Weaver Poet was the source text used by Ameeta. Like the story, which is written from the point of view of Dhaga, a thread who is Kabir’s friend, the storytelling sessions occurred with Ameeta speaking in Dhaga’s voice.

Dhum-dhumakh-dhumakh-dhum was needed for stories to come out of Ameeta’s belly, taking the kids into the world of Kabir, telling them of his life through the eyes of his friends. Kabir lived his life the way he believed it should be lived, and every incident was pregnant with ideas of equality, compassion, tolerance and understanding. For children this young, surprisingly, it wasn’t tough catching the abstract concepts.

The idea were not allowed to remain abstract concepts as Ameeta wove her stories between bouts of discussion where the children found themselves relating what was being said to what they had experienced, if at all. Kabir encourages one to move beyond difference and in these two groups itself, with children from the same age and socio-economic bracket, there were differences in reception.

At Down To Earth, the children were vociferous about their thoughts and responded to the stories and discussion with gusto. They had fun asking questions and found Kabir’s avatars fascinating. The drawings that came out of this session were of Kabir’s flowers and Kabir in various situations, attributed with different ideas of how must’ve looked.

While at BODH, the kids were more responsive to the relationship Kabir shared with his friends. They were completely taken in by Dhaga and the friendship between the two, crying at the end when Dhaga spoke of losing its friend and the manner in which he died. Identifying more with ideas of discrimination, they also responded with an identification with the feeling of friendship they shared with people in their lives.

Both sessions were lively, engaging ones that were interactive and participatory. Look out for pictures!

16th January 2011

Today started off later in the day with the first event at 3.00pm at Purushottam School in Bandra and the second at Mankhurd. Both events were in collaboration with organizations that focused on community development, Huquq – e – Niswan, is based in Bandra East and Yuva is based in tSathe Nagar.

At the event in Purushottam School, more than a 100 people turned up, most of whom were women. Before the screening in fact, some of the women sang songs of joy, josh and freedom. The film that was screened was Chalo Hamara Des, that looks at the experiences of two people from two different countries and what Kabir means to them.

Noorjehan, of the organization stated that while the community was doing a lot of work, the words of Kabir had not been engaged with yet and that it was hoped that through his music, inspiration would be found.

After the film, there was a facilitated discussion by Irfan Engineer that was lively and accompanied by a story. The basis of the story was worship as Irfan summarized towards the end that there were as many ways of worship as there were grains of sand on the banks of the Yamuna.

At Mankhurd, there was a screening of Kabira Khada Bazaar Mein that was preceded by Neela Bhagwat’s recital. Recital though one might call it, it was performed in an open space that took on a whole different flavour to an otherwise close auditorium style. The film is an exploration of the sacred and the secular Kabir. The community at Yuva is a hardworking one from what could be gauged with a sense of pride and dedication to working towards the betterment of itself and all its people. In this spirit, this evening was a night out for friends and family, peppered with music and a movie.