august 2009 programmes

  

wednesday 5th august
6.30 pm “Conscious Cultural Change: One person’s view” a talk by Michael Macy
 

tuesday 11th august
7.00 pm ‘The Violin in the Dilli Gharana of Music’ by  Asghar Husain 

wednesday 12th august
6.30 pm “A journey on the Sufi path” a talk by Sadia Dehlvi
 

tuesday 18th august
6.30 pm “Speaking in Many Voices: A Writer's Autobiogrpahy through Readings” a talk by Githa Hariharan
 

wednesday 19th august
6.30 pm “Undressing political icons: Europe and India compared.” A talk by Dr. Arundhati Virmani & Prof. Jean Boutier
    

thursday 20th  august
6.30 pm “Ghazals from Hyderabad” a performance by Anjali Gopalakrishnan
 

friday 21st august
6.30 pm
DIVERTIMENTO presents ‘The Sonata Form:3’ The concluding lecture of a three-part lecture series by Dr. Jayati Ghosh 

saturday 29th august
6.30 pm ‘Deciphering the Thangka’ an illustrated talk by Kishore Thukral and an exhibition from 31th august to 5th september

 

monday 31st august to saturday 5th september (sunday closed)

11 am to 6.30 pm - Exhibition and sale of thangkas by Tusita Divine Art

 

 

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wednesday 5th august
6.30 pm “Conscious Cultural Change: One person’s view” a talk by Michael Macy

                                               There are  three basic senses in which the word culture is commonly understood.

- the set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an  organization or group.

- an integrated pattern of human knowledge, belief, and behaviour that depends upon the capacity for symbolic thought and social learning

- excellence of taste in the fine arts and humanities, also known as high culture

But over time meanings and concepts change. In the twentieth century, "culture" emerged as a concept central to anthropology, encompassing almost all human phenomena. The term has now became important, albeit with different meanings, in other disciplines such as sociology, cultural studies and organizational psychology.

This evening Michael Macy explores the inevitability of cultural change and if that change can be directed.  He also addresses the difficulty of preserving any culture, the challenge of globalization, and how a culture exports itself.  He will express his own personal thoughts on a subject that has fascinated him for 40 years, and doesn’t reflect the views of the U.S. government.  “I hope it will be challenging, provocative and lead to a thoughtful and lively discussion.”

Michael Macy assumed the position of Cultural Attaché at the U.S. Mission in New Delhi in August 2008.  His prior assignment was as Cultural Attaché at the U.S. Mission in London where he served as Chairman of the US/UK Fulbright Commission.  He has also served in public affair positions at the U.S. Missions in the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Malta and Mali.  Prior to joining the Foreign Service Mr. Macy worked in a number of different sectors.  He worked as a public relations executive providing advice and counsel in the areas of crisis management, community outreach, political affairs and brand development. He was a trial lawyer and served as a magistrate.  He hosted a weekly radio talk show and has taught American studies, American legal history and business at a number of universities in the U.S. and Malta.  He has a lifelong fascination with American culture. He holds a BA in American Culture and Communications Arts from Antioch University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Wisconsin Law School and was a post-graduate research fellow at Aligarh Muslim University and is Fellow of the RSA.  As part of his exploration of American culture he has also worked as a merchant seaman, railroad laborer, and traveled with one of America’s last professional fools.

  

tuesday 11th  august
7.00 pm ‘The Violin in the Dilli Gharana of Music’ a Violin performance  by  Asghar Husain
 

The violin came into use as an Indian musical instrument either with the Portuguese in the 16th /17th  century or with the bandmasters of the British regiments in South India in the late 18th century. It has been adopted and used effectively in both North Indian and South Indian Music where legendary violinists like Pt. V.G Jog, Ustad Zahoor Ahmed Khan,  Smt. N.Rajam and L. Subramaniam have taken it to dizzying heights. The violin is played differently by the Indian artist who sits cross legged with the end of the Violin resting on his right foot and also sounds very different due to the extensive use of micro-tones, and a choice of alternative tunings to utilise drone notes.

The Dilli Gharana of music is one of the oldest styles of music in India tracing its history to the court of Sultan Altamash in the 13th century. It incorporates two simultaneous streams of musical focus: the sufiana, and the darbari—the music inspired by the sufic traditions, and that inspired by the courtly temperament. This gharana is also unique in having a large range of performers using different instruments – the sarangi, the violin, the tabla, the sitar, and some excellent vocalists including its current khalifa Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan. But it is especially known for its outstanding sarangi players, an instrument  very close to the violin.

Ashgar Husain, a violinist is a student of Ustad Iqbal Ahmed Khan, a vocalist.  This is not surprising as the sarangi/violin is supposed to resemble most closely, the human voice. Ashgar’s father Ustad Anwar Husain was a famous tabla player of his time, but at a young age he started learning the violin under Ustad Gauhar Ali Khan and later the violin wizard of the Dilli Gharana Ustad Zahoor Ahmed Khan. He, therefore, brings to his art a rare combination of Indian classical music’s rich heritage and Western music’s modern and sophisticated manners, and has developed his own blend of gayaki and tantrakari styles. He is an ‘A’ grade artist of Akashvani and Doordarshan and has participated in prestigious music festivals all over India and in the UK, USA, Canada, Germany, France, Holland and the Middle East.

wednesday 12th august
6.30 pm “A journey on the Sufi path” a talk by Sadia Dehlvi 

Some scholars of Islam contend that Sufism is simply the name for the inner or esoteric dimension of Islam, characterized by the concept of zikr, the remembrance of God and self abnegation. “Sufism emphasises an intuitive insight into the inner hidden meaning of the revealed Word. In their search for spiritual truths, Sufis do not deny the relevance of the theological and juridical traditions of scholastic Islam. Certainly God’s Word, the Qur’an, is the usual point of departure in their search for an inner, ultimate reality. And yet, rather than simply adhering to a system of rituals and beliefs, Sufis focus upon the intention that rituals serve, foregrounding the inner, esoteric meanings in God’s revelation accessible only to spiritual adepts.” 

Sadia Dehlvi shares her personal journey on the Sufi path that led her to discover her true faith. Drawing from the remarkable lives of the Sufis, their literature and philosophies that emphasize on purification of the heart, Dehlvi will elaborate on how the Sufi way of love empowered her emotionally and spiritually. She will explain the attraction of the Sufi path, its complex relationship of Sufism with both Muslim and non-Muslim societies.  

In her recently released book, Sufism: The Heart of Islam published by HarperCollins Publishers India, Dehlvi asserts that Sufism is not an innovation but the continuity of a thought process which links Muslims to their religious predecessors all the way to Prophet Muhammad. From the early days of Islam to the modern day concerns of militant ideologies, the author explores each strand of religious debate to explore its history and its impact on civilisation.  

Sadia Dehlvi is a well-known media person who belongs to one of the oldest families of Delhi. For over thirty years, Dehlvi has been voicing concern on issues particularly relating to minorities, heritage, women and Muslim communities. As an eminent voice for the Indian Muslim community, Dehlvi has been articulating the need for Muslims to reflect within, reclaim their intellectual heritage and spiritual traditions; rejecting the ideologies leading to confrontation and violence.

  

tuesday 18th august
6.30 pm “Speaking in Many Voices: A Writer's Autobiogrpahy through Readings” a talk by Githa Hariharan 

A writer is best judged by her work and there is no shortage of either fiction or non-fiction to Githa Hariharan’s credit. But sometimes that is not enough, and this evening is one such occasion when Githa will discuss her approach to literature, women's issues, secularism, and the social, political and cultural issues that exercise us today. She will talk about her life, and through a series of readings from her different works, trace her development as a writer, and explore the hopes and dreams she nurtures as an author in India today. 

Githa Hariharan was born in Coimbatore and grew up in Bombay and Manila. She was educated in these two cities and in the US. She worked as a staff writer in WNET-Channel 13 in New York, and then in Bombay, Madras and New Delhi as an editor. In 1995, Hariharan challenged the Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act as discriminatory against women. The case, Githa Hariharan and Another vs. Reserve Bank of India and Another, led to a Supreme Court judgment in 1999 on guardianship. Githa Hariharan's published work includes novels, short stories, essays, newspaper articles and columns.

Her first novel, The Thousand Faces of Night (1992) won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 1993. Her other novels include The Ghosts of Vasu Master (1994), When Dreams Travel (1999), In Times of Siege (2003), and the new Fugitive Histories (2009).

Her highly acclaimed short stories include The Art of Dying and The Winning Team. She has also edited a volume of stories in English translation from four major South Indian languages, A Southern Harvest and co-edited a collection of stories for children, Sorry, Best Friend!.

Hariharan's fiction has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek, Urdu and Vietnamese; her essays and fiction have also been included in anthologies such as Salman Rushdie's Mirrorwork: 50 Years of Indian Writing 1947-1997. Hariharan writes a regular column for The Telegraph.

Githa Hariharan has been Visiting Professor or Writer-in-Residence in several universities, including Dartmouth College and George Washington University in the United States, the University of Canterbury at Kent in the UK, and Jamia Millia Islamia in India.

For more information  www.githahariharan.com

wednesday 19th august
6.30 pm “Undressing political icons: Europe and India compared.” A talk by Dr. Arundhati Virmani & Prof. Jean Boutier
    

          

In Europe, political icons (Marianne or EuropA) have often been represented as partially undressed women, whereas in India, Bharat Mata since the beginning has been a respectably draped woman. Could this contrast be part of the stereotypical divide between East and West? A closer examination of some cases reveals this opposition to be meaningless. In Europe, the female icons of the French Revolution rejected the strict morals of the Catholic and Protestant counter-Reformation and mobilised often nude or partially dressed aesthetic models drawn from Greek antiquity and the Italian renaissance. India too has an equally ancient tradition of nude goddesses. What do recent affairs like Hussain’s Nude Bharatmata in India or the Burkha in France reveal? What does a long term comparative approach to the changing language of political icons contribute in a better understanding of the current debates? 

Dr. Arundhati Virmani was Reader in History at Delhi University until 1992, when she moved to France. Today she teaches at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Marseille. Her publications include an essay in Past and Present, as well as two books: ‘India 1900–1947. Un Britannique au cœur du Raj’ (Paris, Autrement, 2002), and ‘Inde. Une Puissance en mutation’. Her latest book, ‘A National Flag for India. Rituals, Nationalism and the Politics of Sentiment’ was published by Permanent Black last year. 

Jean Boutier is a Professor of European History at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. Former fellow of the Ecole Francaise de Rome and the European University Institute in Florence he has worked on a comparative history of European societies in the early modern period. His focus is on the cultural patterns of European aristocracies. His recent works include: ‘Un tour de France royal 156-1567’ ‘Passe Recompose’’ Les Plans de Paris des origines a 1800’, ‘Florence et la Toscane, X1Ve-X1X siecles’, ‘Les dynamique d’un Etat Italien’, Les mileux intellectuals Italiens, Naples, Rome, Florence, 17e-18e siecles’. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies in JNU.

 

thursday 20th  august
6.30 pm “Ghazals from Hyderabad” a performance by Anjali Gopalakrishnan

 In the 14th century Mohammad Bin Tughlaq, ordered the entire population of Delhi to move to his new capital in the Deccan. Urdu (then called Hindavi) left Delhi only to return 300 years later and acquired a foothold south of the Vindhyas. The Bahmani, Adil Shahi and Qutab Shahi dynasties contributed to the growth and development of Indo-Persian and Indo-Islamic literature and culture in Hyderabad.

Urdu poetry from which Anjali draws her inspiration for her ghazals was also the inspiration for her guru Vithalraoji who used to perform in the Nizam's court in Hyderabad. He has composed the ghazals being sung this evening in a style of his own which does justice to the poetry on which they are based unlike many modern ghazal compositions. Music is a personal form of expression for Anjali, and she finds the subtleties and potential for interpretation involved in ghazal gayaki very fascinating.

Anjali has a masters' degrees in Physics from IIT Mumbai and Cornell. She was a teaching assistant at Harvard, and a high-school Physics teacher in Brooklyn, NY before she moved to India in 2005. She has been pursuing her interests in Indian vocal music more seriously since then. She is a student of Pt. Mani Prasad, a renowned vocalist of the Kirana Gharana as well as Pt. Vithal Rao, an eminent ghazal singer and composer from Hyderabad. She is fortunate to have been associated with both her gurus since the time she was a child, when her mother was their student. Since moving to India, she has worked as a Consultant at the Institute for Studies in Industrial Development in Delhi, and as a marketing manager in Mumbai.

 friday 21st august
6.30 pm
DIVERTIMENTO presents ‘The Sonata Form:3’ The concluding lecture of a three-part lecture series by Dr. Jayati Ghosh
 

The sonata form is considered the most important principle of musical form from the classical period well into music of the 20th century. As a formal model the sonata form is usually best exemplified in the first movements of multi-movement works, whether orchestral or chamber, and is thus also referred to frequently as "first-movement form" or "sonata-allegro form" (since the first movement in a three or four-movement cycle will typically be in allegro tempo).  

Originally the term (derived from the Italian word suonare, to sound on an instrument) meant a piece for playing, distinguished from cantata, a piece for singing. This purport of "sonata" covers many pieces from the Baroque and mid-18th century that are not "in sonata form". Conversely, in the late 18th century or "Classical" period, the title "sonata" is typically given to a work composed of three or four movements.  

In her first two lectures Dr. Jayati Ghosh laid out the structure of the form, its component parts and its manifestations as seen in the works of composers from the classical and romantic periods. In this third and final lecture, Dr Jayati Ghosh follows the form as she develops upon earlier material, recaps earlier themes and achieves closure of the current discourse.   

Jayati Ghosh was educated at Delhi University, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), and the University of Cambridge. Her 1984 doctoral thesis at Cambridge University was titled "Non capitalist land rent: theories and the case of North India" under the supervision of T Byres.

 

She is now Professor of Economics and also the current Chairperson at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, School of Social Sciences, at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, in New Delhi, India. Her specialities include globalization, international finance, employment patterns in developing countries, macroeconomic policy, and issues related to gender and development.

 

She previously held positions at Tufts University and Cambridge, lecturing meanwhile at academic institutions throughout India.

She is one of the founders of the Economic Research Foundation in New Delhi, a non-profit trust devoted to progressive economic research. (Selections of her columns from the Macroscan, the Foundation's outlet, will be published as Tracking the Macroeconomy.) She is also Executive Secretary of the International Development Economics Associates (IDEAS), a network of economists critical of the mainstream economic paradigm of neo-liberalism. 

 

saturday 29th august
6.30 pm ‘Deciphering the Thangka’ an illustrated talk by Kishore Thukral and an exhibition from 31th august to 5th september (see below)

             

              

A "Thangka," is a painted or embroidered Buddhist banner which was hung in a monastery or a family altar and occasionally carried by monks in ceremonial processions. It is a scroll painting which can be easily rolled and transported from monastery to monastery. These thangka served as important teaching tools depicting the life of the Buddha, various influential lamas and other deities and bodhisattvas. But how does one distinguish one diety from another. 

There are gods and goddesses, some benign, others wrathful, some universal, others local, almost always represented in one of the five colours of Vajrayana Buddhism – white, green, yellow, red or blue (black, in some cases). What finally differentiates these deities is their asana (posture), mudra (gesture), and their attributes and accompanying symbols. In fact so vast is the array of deities within the Buddhist pantheon that sometimes a monk himself is unable to tell one from another.

In his lecture, Kishore Thukral talks about the markers of identity and the significance of some of these Buddhist deities and symbols that appear frequently in wall paintings and thangkas.

Kishore Thukral has trekked, photographed and researched extensively in the western Himalayas, and is the author of the book, Spiti through Legend and Lore, published in 2006. Kishore is also the founder of the Dhangkar Initiative, an ongoing project that aims to link the restoration of the ancient Dhangkar monastery in Spiti with a livelihood generation programme for the local community (see www.dhangkar.com). All profits from the sale of his book have been pledged to the Dhangkar project. Through his efforts Dhangkar was recognized by the World Monuments Fund as one of the hundred most endangered historical sites in the world for the period 2006-2007 (www.wmf.org). Born, raised and residing in Delhi, Kishore has been a member of several mountaineering expeditions. A graduate in History and Law, he is a financial planner by profession. He is also a bilingual writer. The Chronicler’s Daughter, a novel published in 2002, was his first work in English. He has also authored short stories and plays in Hindi, some of which have been performed by mentally challenged children and young adults.  

monday 31st august to saturday 5th september (sunday closed)
11 am to 6.30 pm -
Exhibition and sale of thangkas by
Tusita Divine Art 

Genuine antique Thangkas are rarely available even to the seasoned traveler. They are hidden away in monasteries (gonpas), temples (lakhangs) or small family held temples (chokhangs). They are important objects of ritual worship in Vajrayana (Tibetan) Buddhism. In a unique attempt to preserve their exquisite heritage art, two friends, Kishore Thukral and Sunil Nandrajog have set up an enterprise, Tusita Divine Art, named after the heaven in which Maitreya, the Future Buddha is said to presently reside. Tusita have undertaken to digitally reproduce the thangkas of the small chokhangs in different sizes on 410 gsm Hahnemuhle canvas to give them the archival look. They are then stitched in the traditional fashion with contemporary fabric, and each reproduction is sold accompanied by a well-researched and detailed description written in close consultation with senior monks and with reference to authoritative works by scholars of Tibetan Buddhist art.  

A major part of the earnings is given back to the chokhangs to help them maintain and restore the originals.  

This is an exceptional exhibition intense in the five colours of Vajrayana Buddhism, rich in visual symbolism, steeped in ritual and spiritual meaning.