As August approaches, the excitement builds as Teamwork’s festivals of India spread across the world map, making steady imprints across the globe. If you have been a loyal follower of all that Teamwork does for the revival of the arts essentially Indian, then you are aware that the Festivals of India showcase the multi-faceted idea of India abroad.
One of them has my particular attention – Shared History, a festival of India in South Africa. Shared History held in beautiful time of the year – spring, is a cultural extravaganza jointly hosted by the High Commission and Teamwork Arts New Delhi. Over the past eleven years, Shared History tells you the story of India, of South Africa, of their heritage and accomplishments, and all that binds the two countries together.
Two countries bound by the towering figures of history, freedom human liberation – Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela come even closer, I feel, as festivals such as these create those heart-warming connections.
I am most thrilled by this year’s line-up: imagine. Dr. L. Subramaniam, who has been recognized as the foremost Indian composer in the realm of orchestral composition. Armed with a Master’s degree in Western Classical composition, distinctions in western violin studies, understanding of western technique, and his base in Indian Classical music, he is set out to create a new style of orchestral writing, and indeed a new genre. It will be fitting to see this maestro perform in celebration of India’s 70th year of Independence.
Then there is an evocative performance of the group Katkatha with puppets, masks and shadow puppets looking at Mahabharata as a dynamic story and exploring the inner dilemmas of 15 characters and whether each character choosing differently could have averted war? Or are we doomed for destruction?
South Africa has a vibrant Indian diaspora that has always looked towards India for validating its cultural identity while blending seamlessly in to South African rainbow population. A popular singer from India Vidya Shah will be singing Songs of Exile, which is a creative musical work, an ode to Ranjith Kally’s photographic book, Memory Against Forgetting, which captures the lost poignant world of the 1950s & 60s for South African Indians. Musician Vidya Shah draws from the rich oral history and sings the songs that the original immigrants left behind in India. Her words are drawn from the songs and poetry of that era.
Vidya’s music and Kally’s images are fused with words of the writer Kalim Rajab, who curated and contextualised the photographs and gave them their appropriate historical setting alongside the music. So be there to get a peek in to the emotional landscape of expat South African Indians of the fifties and sixties.
The fourth fare to bedazzle you is the classical dance performance from the renowned group Srjan. The word Srjan means creation and the many aspects of creativity. The group has performed the world over and earned high praise for the institute and its students. Srjan Dance Company will perform Odissi dance which speaks of love and union between human and the divine, transporting viewers to the enchanting world of magic and spirituality.
So, while I am dreaming of azure skies, emerald green parks, sounds of Indian music and dance wafting by, perhaps everyone in the blogosphere could gear up to watch this superlative eclectic mix at the Shared History Festival and keep pace with the frenzy which will capture the city soon! Do visit the teamwork website for details… totsiens people (that’s ‘bye in Afrikaans).