Lis­ten, Kathakar has sto­ries to tell

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times City - Nandita.Ban­erji

New Delhi: A Swedish woman told the tale of a god­dess of de­struc­tion. Her an­klet bells jin­gled, the bam­boo stick in her hands rose and fell with the pace of the story, swish­ing through the air, and her tongue hung out to show the rage cours­ing through the veins of the god­dess, along with the blood of the de­mon she had slayed. As Emily Hen­nessey cre­ated mu­sic while telling her story, the au­di­ence watched in mes­merised si­lence, and an eightyear-old child in the front row hung out his own tongue in seem­ing sol­i­dar­ity with Hen­nessey, chan­nel­ing the same story.

What Norse mythol­ogy was this? None. This was the story of god­dess Kali be­ing told at the ninth edi­tion of the Kathakar In­ter­na­tional sto­ry­tellers’ fes­ti­val, the only event in In­dia that cel­e­brates the art of oral sto­ry­telling. The fes­ti­val be­gan on Fri­day and will go on till Sun­day at Sun­der Nurs­ery, Her­itage Park, Niza­mud­din. Ses­sions fo­cus­ing on na­tive tales from In­dia, Poland, Aus­tralia, Swe­den, Ro­ma­nia, Mon­go­lia, Lithua­nia and the United King­dom would high­light the three days, the or­gan­is­ers said.

Hun­dreds turned up on the first day of the fes­ti­val to hear sev­eral forms of myth­i­cal tales, along with spe­cial guests like ac­tor Manoj Ba­j­payee, Union min­is­ter Kiren Ri­jiju and singer Mo­hit Chauhan, who is also one of the pa­trons for the fes­ti­val. The event started off with homage to Bud­dha by the monks of Sher­abling, who have re­ceived a Grammy for their sa­cred Ti­betan chants. The deep gut­tural voices of the five monks synced up to cre­ate a beau­ti­ful har­mony that echoed around the open-air au­di­to­rium. The au­di­ence, made up of ev­ery age and class, spilled over the cush­ioned steps into the grassy spa­ces be­tween the seats to en­joy this unique ex­pe­ri­ence. The crowd also had the at­ten­dance of the­atre per­son­al­ity and ac­tor Ratna Pathak Shah.

Ba­j­payee pointed out that oral sto­ry­telling was prob­a­bly the first-ever form of en­ter­tain­ment that orig­i­nated with hunters and gath­er­ers. “The art of oral sto­ry­telling is slowly dy­ing in the age of screens, and this fes­ti­val is an ef­fort to bring the art to the fore­front,” said Prarthna Gehlot, co-or­gan­iser of the three-day event along with her sis­ters Sh­a­guna and Rachna.

The crowd swelled to hear Aus­tralian folk­tales from Abo­rig­ine elders Larry Walsh and Ron Mur­ray. Armed with seve

Slavic myths by Emilia Raiter ral didgeri­doo — mu­si­cal in­stru­ments made from hol­lowed out tree trunks — Mur­ray played out sounds made by an­i­mals in “the bush” while Walsh, bet­ter known as Un­cle Larry, told tales of in­dige­nous an­i­mals. The au­di­ence learnt about the songs and dances prac­tised by the Abo­rig­ines at cor­ro­borees, learn­ing of how they be­lieve sev­eral an­i­mals came to be. Chil­dren laughed, learn­ing of the cheeky eightyear-old Kubra, who stole his vil­lage’s wa­ter and climbed up a tree, and turned into a koala be­cause he re­fused to come Spe­cial guests ac­tor Manoj Ba­j­payee and Union min­is­ter Kiren Ri­jiju with singer Mo­hit Chauhan, a pa­tron for the fes­ti­val

Aus­tralian folk­tales by Abo­rig­ine elders Larry Walsh and Ron Mur­ray Story of Kali by Emily Hen­nessey

down. Mur­ray’s mu­sic gave the back­drop to the sad tale of Per­awan­tine, the first snake who wanted to sing, but couldn’t.

The en­gag­ing child­like tales of the elders pro­vided a sharp con­trast to the haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful Slavic myths re­told by Emilia Raiter. The pol­ish sto­ry­teller’s sym­phonic playing of a harp pro­vided the mood to her tales of gods spar­ring with each other, com­ing forth from light and dark, un­til it led to the cre­ation of the world. Raiter’s harp per­fectly ac­com­pa­nied her per­for­mance, peak­ing with the cre­ation of WHAT Kathakar In­ter­na­tional sto­ry­tellers’ fes­ti­val


With Hi­malayan Hub for Art, Cul­ture and Her­itage (HHACH), Babaji Mu­sic and Aga Khan Trust for Cul­ture as part­ners,

Kathakar was launched in 2010 un­der the aegis

of Unesco

WHERE Sun­der Nurs­ery, Her­itage Park,


WHEN Oct 11-13

TIME 6pm to 10pm

TICK­ETS Avail­able on Book­

or on site

new gods and be­gin­ning of new bat­tles, and slow­ing down when a cre­ation was de­stroyed or a bat­tle ended.

Sev­eral such per­for­mances have been lined up for the rest of the Kathakar fest. Thol­pavakoothu artistes will per­form shadow the­atre based on Ra­mayana while Hen­nessey will per­form Tales from the Ma­hab­harat on Sun­day. Kis­sey, Ka­hani aur Cin­ema ses­sion with di­rec­tor Im­tiaz Ali, Pol­ish Tales by Jerzy Sz­ufa and Qis­se­bazi by the­atre per­son­al­ity Dan­ish Hu­sain are also on the agenda.

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