The Kabir Festival, Mumbai, first organized in 2011, has become an annual feature in Mumbai. It has grown and spread through the efforts of a community of likeminded people who have lent their time efforts and money to make this a Festival wholly driven by volunteerism and funded by the community.
The community is bound in its belief that the mystic poets of the sub-continent, like Kabir, Bulleh Shah, Tukaram, Meerabai, et all, have in their poetry, a message which is, perhaps even more relevant to our times than their own. The Festival is an attempt to re-connect urban audiences with the voices of the mystics, and through their poetry, to spread their message of love, brotherhood, compassion, tolerance and honest self-examination. We bring the poetry to the people through performances of various rural artists who have carried it through the oral tradition and the urban artists who have been inspired by it to create a newer idiom of presentation. Through song, storytelling, dance and film, we bring audiences to a closer understanding of the life and poetry of the Mystics. We feel a profound need to keep alive the voices of the Mystics, in a world fueled by greed, obsessed with wealth and power, driven by anger and hatred. The city is riddled with boundaries drawn by differences of faith, geographical origins, wealth and power, constantly keeping us apart. The Festival seeks to erase these boundaries through the voices of the Mystics.
Perhaps one of the most powerful ways of conveying the message of the Mystics is our concerted efforts to make this Festival as inclusive as possible. All events are free and open to the public. We take the Festival to the people by holding events across the length and breadth of the City, choosing venues as different as book shops, schools and colleges to foot path amphitheaters, gardens and the streets in the inner city.
We have developed wonderful relationships with artists who have associated with us year after year, steeping themselves into the spirit of the Festival. Many of them have, through the Festival, been inspired to new creation, through collaboration and through a deeper understanding.