FIND­ING GOD IN KABIR’S CITY MAINSTREAMING KABIR

THE FIRST AN­NUAL MAHIN­DRA KABIRA FES­TI­VAL GAVE A GLIMPSE OF KABIR DAS’ KASHI THROUGH A THREE-DAY CUL­TURAL SO­JOURN.

India Today - - SIMPLY BUZZ - n By UR­SILA ALI

THE POET AND HIS CITY

As the sun sets, the Dashash­wamedh Ghat gears up for the evening aarti—a sight that brings hun­dreds of tourists and pil­grims to Ba­naras. The Ganga aarti is an ode to the river Ganga, that lights up each night with flick­er­ing diyas on the ghats. Against the gen­tle calm­ness of the river is a strong jux­ta­po­si­tion of a city that is for­ever bustling with pil­grims search­ing for the gods that are said to have oc­cu­pied its banks many moons ago. Be­naras or Varanasi was made from the grand union of rivers Varuna and Assi and is con­sid­ered to be one of the old­est liv­ing cities in the world, as well as the cen­tre of Hin­duism. But there is a Be­naras that ex­ists apart from the tem­ples, the heavy com­mer­cial­i­sa­tion in the name of re­li­gion, the famed hand­loom tex­tiles or even the de­lec­ta­ble Be­narasi paan—the Be­naras we talk about be­longs to the mys­tic Kabir Das, who trans­formed the city into the fo­cal point of In­dian spir­i­tu­al­ism. For many of us, Kabir merely re­sides in our school text­books, where his do­has made an in­te­gral part of our Hindi syl­labus. But there are a few, like film­maker Shab­nam Vir­mani, who has pulled out Kabir from so­cial am­ne­sia and made the saint’s so­cio-cul­tural rel­e­vance stand out to the world through the Kabir Project, an artist-in-res­i­dency project at the Sr­ishti In­sti­tute of Art, De­sign and Tech­nol­ogy, Ban­ga­lore. “This jour­ney with Kabir started in 2002 when I was liv­ing in Ahmed­abad, in the af­ter­math of the Gu­jarat ri­ots which was a time to in­tro­spect and un­der­stand the prej­u­dices around caste and re­li­gion,” says Vir­mani. The project that started in 2003 has man­i­fested through 4 films, 6

Vo­cal­ist Devashish Dey brings a lo­cal flavour to the fes­ti­val

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