may 2008 programmes

 

thursday 1st to saturday 3rd may
11 am to 6.30 pm ‘Shaktic symbology, architecture & iconography’ – An exhibition of photographs by Giti Thadani.

saturday 3rd may
Dialogues of Faith Series  at The India International Centre
(Main Auditorium)

6.30 pm  ‘
Zoroastrianism: Tradition and Transmission’ – a talk by Dr. Shernaz Cama &  ‘Relevance of Judaism in the 21st Century’ – a talk by Rabbi Ezekiel  Isaac Malekar

monday 5th may
7.00 pm ‘Kambakht Ishq’ – a comedy in Hindi by Natsamrat Theatre Organized by Culture Club
 

friday 9th may
7.00 pm ‘Mystic Minstrels of Bengal’ – a musical evening

 wednesday 14th may
7.00 pm ‘The Troll Bridge and Other Curiosities’ - Stories by Neil Gaiman 
The First City Theatre Readings

friday 16th may

6.00 to 9.00 pm  Cynosure Productions Presents Summer Rush  - ‘No, Not I’ and The Big Macbeth’
Directors  Anant Dayal and Shahana Dosajh

 thursday 22 may
Dialogues of Faith Series  at The India International Centre
(Main Auditorium)
6.30 pm ‘Hinduism; The Diverse Forms of Worship’ – a talk by Dr. Bharat Gupt
 

saturday 24 may
6.30 pm
The City of Love, by Rimi B. Chatterjee,- Book Release by Penguin Books. And some ‘Songs of Love‘ by Vidya Rao     

monday 26th may
7.00 pm ‘
Indian Women IN THE HOUSE OF FICTION’ – a book release, reading and talk by Geetanjali Chanda

thursday29h may
7.00 pm ‘MY BACK PAGES’ extracts from Bob Dylan's Chronicles
The First City Theatre Readings

 

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may 2008 programmes

 

thursday 1st to saturday 3rd may
11 am to 6.30 pm ‘Shaktic symbology, architecture & iconography’ – An exhibition of photographs by Giti Thadani.

In partnership with Shakti Trust

Giti Thadani has given audio-visual presentations  on ‘Feminine Cosmologies and architectural space in shaktic temple sites’ at the Delhi School of Architecture, `Mythic and  Memoric Time’, ‘Politics and semantics of sexuality’ at Yale and others at the University of Verona, House of World Cultures, Berlin and the University of Philadelphia. She has also researched on New German Cinema and its historical contextualisation, The language of aesthetics in the work of Mani Kaul and Gender Constructions, fascism and the politics of body language. She has also been a Consultant for the Film KHEL and has published two books ‘Sakhiyani’ and ‘Moebius Trip’. She speaks Sanskrit, Hindi, English, French, German, Hungarian & Italian.

 

 

Dialogues of Faith

This series of 8 talks and 4 performances is meant to highlight the syncretic nature of India’s religious and musical traditions.   They will show that there are no absolutist distinctions in the mélange of ideas, concepts and teachings that form our religions, music and art. That India has the unique distinction in its tolerance and diversity where there is no ‘other’ , where the concepts of nirvana, ahimsa, martyrdom, asceticism, moksha, charity and  shariat exist side by side, where gurbani, choir, sufi and bhajan music are all part of a common heritage.

This series is organized jointly by The Attic and The India International Centre.

 

saturday 3rd may
Dialogues of Faith Series  at The India International Centre
(Main Auditorium)

6.30 pm  ‘
Zoroastrianism: Tradition and Transmission’ – a talk by Dr. Shernaz Cama &  ‘Relevance of Judaism in the 21st Century’ – a talk by Rabbi Ezekiel  Isaac Malekar



Zoroastrianism, a Bronze Age religion and culture has survived millennia largely through the Oral Traditions. Alexander destroyed the great library at Persepolis in 331 BC and killed the Priests who were ‘the living books’ of the religion. Yet despite changes in geographical location, language and life style, the core beliefs of this faith have survived intact, largely because of an osmotic process preserved and passed on through an intangible system of transmission. The ‘Gathas’ were the Prophet Zarathushtra’s Songs of Wisdom set in verse and meter in the nature of ancient Indo-Iranian religious poetry and music plays an important role in Zoroastrianism, as in other faiths.

In the 10th century the Zoroastrians were driven out of Persia by the Arab conquests and settled in India. There are only about 69,000 Parsis in India with their numbers steadily declining by 10% every decennial Census.

This evening Dr. Cama examines some methodologies of the Oral Tradition and the significance of music in Zoroastrianism. She discusses the meaning of tradition and the possible loss of diversity when languages, family systems and countries start worshipping a mono-cultural norm. The Parsis have suffered considerably from this loss, can other Indian traditions learn from their experience?

Dr. Shernaz Cama did her BA (Hons.) from Madras University and her MA, MPhil and PhD from the University of Delhi. During the course of her PhD researches on Blake and Zoroastrianism, she worked at the British Museum and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London under the guidance of Prof. Mary Boyce and Dr. Kathleen Raine. She has been teaching at Delhi University since 1983 and is currently Head, Department of English at Lady Shri Ram College.

She is Honorary Director of the PARZOR Project on the Preservation and Promotion of Parsi Zoroastrian Culture and Heritage funded by UNESCO. She has produced three movies under the project; “Glimpses”, “In War & Peace: The Life of Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw MC” and “Asha: The Law of Harmony” - A Study of Environmental Consciousness in Zoroastrian Rituals". She has been awarded the Mazda Education Foundation Award and Mancherji Edalji Joshi Memorial Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Zoroastrian community.

 

“Relevance of Judaism in the 21st Century”  

Judaism came to India with the Cochin Jews who settled down in Kerala 2500 years ago, The Bene Israel who settled in Maharashtra 2100 years ago, The Baghdadi Jews from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan in the 18th century and The Bnei Menashe  Kuki-Mizo Jews who claim descent from one of the 10 lost tribes of ancient Israel. The various Jewish communities have been living peacefully in India, the only country where they have not faced either anti-semitism or persecution, (except from the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa). The Bene Israel claim to be descendants of the Kohanim, the ancient Israelite priests related to Moses. They therefore, consider Israel as their Dharam Bhoomi (land of religion) and India is their karm-bhoomi (land of duties). They have become a creative part of Indian life leaving a body of religious poetry, folk songs, legal and mystical treatises, and some of the most striking synagogues in the world. However, mainly due to emigration, their numbers have declined from 35,000 in 1951, to only 5000 today.

 Rabbi Malekar of the Judah Hyam Synagogue will talk about the sacred writings in The Tanak (Bible), the Talmud, the Psalms and Proverbs. He will explain the important concepts of Bar-Mitzvah and Bat-Mitzvah, the chanting of Hebrew prayers according to Indian Jewish traditions, Jewish mysticism, the Sabbath, non-violence and the symbols of Judaism - the Star of David, Menorah and Mezuzah. 

Mr. Ezekiel Isaac Malekar is Rabbi and Honorary Secretary of the Judah Hyam Synagogue, New Delhi and head of the Jewish community. He is a recipient of the Mahavir Mahatma Award for preserving Jewish Culture in India, the Ambassador of Peace Award for his inter-faith activities. He writes on Judaism for the Times of India and Hindustan Times and has participated in over 500 International and National Conferences, Seminars and Inter-faith meetings. He is a human rights Activist and is presently working as Deputy Registrar (Law) in the National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi.               .

     

monday 5th may
7.00 pm ‘Kambakht Ishq’ – a comedy in Hindi by Natsamrat Theatre
Organized by Culture Club

One of the greatest comedies ever written is Molieres ‘Le Malade Imaginare’. The hypochondriac patient is always summoning his doctor for all his non ailments and between the patient Argan, the maid Toinette and Dr. Diaforious three centuries of European theatre have laughed evenings away with the hypochondriac.

In Kambakht Ishq Dr. Bhatt is fed up with his two patients, Leela's mother Radha and Jai's father Kishan. Both the oldies fall in love with each other and start meeting secretly. Leela and Jai feel embarassed as people start teasing them. They oppose their parents plan to marry each other. One day Radha tells her daughter that she is pregnant and...

Director : Shyam Kumar Writer : Satya Prakash Cast : Dr. Bhatt, Kishan, Radha, Leela, Jai, Compounder, Bijli  

Culture Club is an organization of like-minded women, to provide a forum for cultural and intellectual growth. In their monthly events they have organized stimulating events related to art, culture, music and dance. Contact aish8in@yahoo.com

 

friday 9th may

7.00 pm ‘Mystic Minstrels of Bengal’ – a musical evening

                                     The Bauls of Bengal are an itinerant cult of musicians settled in the rural hinterland of western Bengal.  The Bauls can be categorized as “domestic” and “ascetic.” The domestic Bauls, who are the performing Bauls, can be identified by their orange-based or earth-hued robe worn over a lungi. They carry a one-stringed instrument called an “ektara” or a “khamak.” A “dubdubi” which is a rudimentary and a basic percussion is worn around the waist. They also wear ankle bells which tinkle as they dance. They tie their hair in a top knot and wear a saffron turban.  The “ascetic” Bauls does not perform or marry and follow a strict ritualistic and religious lifestyle. The Bauls have a concept of iconography that transcends the merely visual and flows over into mystical and abstract ruminations. Thus Krishna and Radha are abstract embodiments of divine love and not idols to be worshipped in the home. This translates into a profound philosophy on life which spills over into a social concern and often the two mixes, creating a very specific and identifiable Baul wisdom tradition.  They see and experience all life as a microcosm of the universe, and thus must be respected and venerated by humankind. 

Historically, some scholars date the Bauls to the 6th century AD. The Bauls as a formal community was grouped together by Mahaprabhu Chaitanya, the Vaishnavite mystic and great follower of the saint poet, Jayadeva, the author of the Geeta Govinda, the epic poem of universal love. Chaitanya Mahaprabhu influenced the Hindus and the Sufis who were both persecuted for their caste and poverty by the orthodox religious high priests and liberated them by calling the group “Baul” or one, who has no possessions. He preached the oneness of humanity and through his disciples, the Bauls, advocated the very progressive idea of secularism, gender equality, a casteless and classless society and universal love and respect for humanity. 

A Baul does not believe in idol worship but seeks the moner manush – the God within.  His life’s mission is to search for the ultimate truth through meditation. Over a period of time, they came under the influence of Buddhism and the tantric ritualistic approach to meditation, whereby the spiritual journey was merged with the female, described by them as prakriti or creator, shakti or power, sadhika or companion and sevadashi or the caretaker.  

Madhusudan Das Baul, Tilak Maharaj and Sritikona Das Baul are from Burdwan and Kalachand Darwesh is from Jalpaiguri Bengal. Kalachand is the only one who plays an instrument called sasraj which is not yet documented. They have all performed extensively in India and abroad but basically move in their own villages and in various festivals singing in praise of universal brotherhood. They are in Delhi to record foran experimental CD commissioned by the Ford Foundation with Susmit Bose They feel that his contemporary urban folk music and the 12th century genre of the Bauls has a lot of similarity in content and the musical structure and the experiment is to somehow merge the two styles to present it on a world music forum.

 wednesday 14th may
7.00 pm ‘The Troll Bridge and Other Curiosities’ - Stories by Neil Gaiman 
The First City Theatre Readings

The First City Theatre Foundation presents selected readings from short stories by Neil Gaiman, author of Neverwhere, American Gods and The Sandman series. The stories are playful, creepy and often disturbing. Gaiman tells stories of the traffic between human beings, drawing attention to moments when the bizarre or fantastic invade the mundane, or even to when the mundane becomes bizarre. With the growing interest in sci-fi and fantasy in popular culture, this edition of Off the Mantle hopes to present a quieter side of these genres – one that is neither techno nor medieval, but present nevertheless.

 

friday 16th may

6.00 to 9.00 pm  Cynosure Productions Presents Summer Rush  - ‘No, Not I’ and The Big Macbeth’
Directors  Anant Dayal and Shahana Dosajh

 

Summer Rush was an interactive theatre workshop which included Voice Modulation, Stage Placements, Visual References, Art Installations, Acting Adventures, Emoting and other such activities which culminated into the production of Treasure Island by 8 to 12 year olds and The Big Macbeth by 13 to 18 year old dynamic actors.

THE BIG MACbeth is an interpretation of Macbeth, Shakespeare’s classic tale of greed & ambition, set in a contemporary environment of corporate organizations & mega malls. Macbeth is a young & ambitious corporate executive who is married to Lady M, a page-3 socialite. Both come under the influence of ‘The Witches’, who represent the temptations of their hedonistic lifestyle. They plot the downfall of the company boss Duncan, & co-worker Banquo, who is opposed to Macbeth’s dishonesty & ambition. What follows is their struggle to cope with the consequences of their actions…

No, Not I by Poile Sengupta involves a group of children playing and amusing themselves by telling stories. From the mundane and simple joys of life the story almost borders on the metaphysical in the form of a Swami who becomes an inspiration of sorts for one of the boys, the protagonist. This play is quite in tradition with the Indian folk theatre.

 

 

thursday 22 may
Dialogues of Faith Series  at The India International Centre
(Main Auditorium)
6.30 pm ‘Hinduism; The Diverse Forms of Worship’ – a talk by Dr. Bharat Gupt

All religions are based on cosmological and metaphysical theories attempting to offer some explanation of the riddle of the universe. The complexity of Hinduism is mainly due to the number of attempts at explaining in different ways the universal laws and the nature of the all pervading principles from which the universe may have arisen .Starting with the ‘Vedas’ and later the ‘Upanishads’ attempts are made to understand the ultimate nature of reality especially the relation between ‘atman’ (true, inner Self) and ‘brahman’ (ultimate reality). 

‘Even the word ‘Hindu’ can be misleading. The term would necessarily include both those who believe in the orthodox views of Rama and Krishna as well as those who are skeptical of their teachings. It would include those who believe in ‘brahman’ and those who consider themselves agnostics. What is important is the heterodoxy, the pluralism and the tolerance.   

In mans search for the divine Hinduism recognizes that ‘for each age and each country a new form of revelation and for each person a different path of realization, a different mode of worship, a different morality, different rituals, different gods are possible. Thus Hinduism cannot be opposed to any creed, to any prophet, to any incarnation, to any way of realization, since one of its fundamental principles is to acknowledge them all and many more to come.’ 

Hinduism is a Realization based faith, where the individual’s knowledge of the Divine is the final aim. It does not elevate a single founder or a primary scripture but admits a line of teachers of various schools (matas). This evening Prof Gupt talks about some of the important concepts in Hindu thought. 

·         The Unity of the Divine, which can be realized through morphic (icons, images, symbols, gods or goddesses) or through amorphic (samadhi) means.

·         Acceptance of soul.

·         Accumulation of merit (through rituals and moral conduct) and demerit - karma.

·         Existence of the upper and lower worlds (lokas).

·         Rebirth of the ignorant soul (punarjanma)

·         Existence of a world of ancestors.

·         Purity as a power of soul, mind, body and environment.

·         Word /speech/music as psychic forces.

·         Obligations to gods, spirits, ancestors, teachers, and humans

·         Dharma (right action), artha (collection of wealth), kama (fulfillment of desires) and moksha (attainment of bliss) as the four aims of life.  

He points out that Hinduism must be understood on its own terms. The Western (and even the modern Indian) approach is analytical, it tends to differentiate and isolate the various elements- religious, social, and philosophical in the Hindu Pantheon, while the Hindu approach is cosmological, it wants us to see a coherent, all – inclusive, ever evolving knowledge with its roots in ancient systems. While it posits a pluralism of belief, it upholds One-ness, in which the Other is not a reality but an illusion, hence it does not recognize evil as an everlasting reality. Hinduism needs to reexamine the way it was defined during the Colonial period and is still being perceived by western religions and academic institutions.

Dr. Bharat Gupt is a graduate of St. Stephen's College, Delhi, and The University of Toronto and a Ph. D. from The University of Baroda. He is an Associate Professor in English at the College of Vocational Studies of the University of Delhi, is a classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst and newspaper columnist. He is trained in both, Western and traditional Indian educational systems. He was awarded the McLuhan Fellowship by the University of Toronto, and the Senior Onasis Fellowship to research in Greece on classical Greek theatre. He has lectured extensively at Universities in India, North America, Europe, and Greece. His published books include: Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian , Natyasastra (Ch.28): Ancient Scales of Indian Music, India: A Cultural Decline or Revival (in press).

He has lectured on Indian religious art symbols at the Siena University and represented Hinduism at a United Nations colloquium at Delphi, Greece. He is a weekly contributor to the debates on RISA list which consists of around 550 top world academics of Hinduism and recently shared a stage with the Jagatguru of Dharvaad to speak on temple rituals and sacrifices.

 

saturday 24 may
6.30 pm
The City of Love, by Rimi B. Chatterjee,- Book Release by Penguin Books. And some ‘Songs of Love‘ by Vidya Rao     

Travelling into the past to discover an India that is almost forgotten, The City of Love is a richly textured narrative, packed with action and colour. Set in the fifty years after Vasco da Gama’s landing at Calicut in 1498, against the backdrop of the spice trade, piracy and the struggle for control of the seas, it traces the fortunes of four characters: Fernando Almenara, a Castilian trader fleeing persecution in his native country; Daud Suleiman al-Basri, a Moorish pirate driven by his desire for wealth and power to meddle with the fates of kings; Chandu, a Shaiva–Tantric novice in search of an enlightenment that comes only in his darkest hour; and Bajja, a tribal girl seeking a way to be at peace with the universe and herself.

These stories of trade and exploration and conflict provide the backdrop for the characters’ quest for the meaning of love in various esoteric traditions. It explores a time when India was at the crossroads of all the major trade routes of the world and in this time of turmoil perhaps the only refuge is to be found in the elusive City of Love.

Rimi B. Chatterjee is a novelist and academic. The City of Love is her second published novel. Her first, Signal Red, a near-future science fiction story about a defence scientist, was published by Penguin in 2005. Her academic book Empires of the Mind: A History of Oxford University Press in India During the Raj published in 2006, won the SHARP de Long prize for that year. She has worked in print media and publishing and is at present a lecturer in English at Jadavpur University, having previously been at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Calcutta, and the Indian Institute of Technology, Kharagpur. She has translated two books, Titu Mir by Mahasweta Devi (Seagull, 2000) and Apon Katha by Abanindranath Tagore, (Tara, 2004) into English.

 

 

monday 26th may
7.00 pm ‘
Indian Women IN THE HOUSE OF FICTION’ – a book release, reading and talk by Geetanjali Chanda 

                                       

Indian Women in the House of Fiction explores the quiet negotiation of women and the kinds of homes they wish to inhabit. The house is not merely a backdrop in Indian women’s fiction but almost a character that bears witness to the changes taking place in the protagonists’ lives. The architectural and social spaces of havelis, bungalows and apartments impose their own unique patterns of women’s relationships inside and outside the domestic space. In these fictional homes, women find ways to transform restrictive segregated spaces – like the zenana of a haveli – into a potentially empowering ‘womenspace’ that is carried over into both bungalows and apartments. The current popularity of Indo-English literature notwithstanding, the anxiety of conveying an authentic Indianness in what is sometimes still regarded as an “auntie tongue” shadows some authors and their work. Notions of Indianness are preserved, taught and performed in the home and it is also the site upon which concerns about identity, language, nationalism, family or community values and gender roles are played out. In this book, Geetanjali Singh Chanda maps Indian English women’s literature in India and the diaspora while situating it in the larger framework of world literatures.

 

Geetanjali Singh Chanda is a Senior Lecturer in the Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program at Yale University. Before Yale, she taught at the Hong Kong University and Gettysburg College. She completed her undergraduate studies at Delhi University, did a language teaching certification at the Sorbonne, received her Master’s degree in Women’s Studies from George Washington University, and completed her doctoral dissertation at Hong Kong University.

 

thursday29h may
7.00 pm ‘MY BACK PAGES’ extracts from Bob Dylan's Chronicles
The First City Theatre Readings

 
"I'd come from a long way off and had started a long ways down. But now destiny was about to manifest itself. I felt like it was looking right at me and nobody else."

To celebrate the recent awarding of the Pulitzer Prize to Bob Dylan for his 'profound impact on popular music and American culture, marked by lyrical compositions of extraordinary poetic power', the First City Theatre Foundation presents a reading of extracts from his Chronicles: Volume 1. By turns revealing, poetical, passionate and witty Chronicles is a mesmerizing window on Dylan's thoughts and influences. Utilizing his unparalleled gifts of storytelling and the exquisite expressiveness that are hallmarks of his music, Dylan turns his chronicles into a poignant reflection of life, and the people and places that helped shape the man and his art.