Varanasi, the birthplace of mystic poet Kabir, is all set to witness a unique festival celebrating the poet's soulful verses at the Darbhanga and Assi Ghats from November 4-6. The city will resonate with his verses through a programme tailored around his works at the Mahindra Kabira Festival (MKF). The event includes heritage walks, literature sessions, local food exploration and yoga. The organisers plan to make it an annual event, showcasing Varanasi as a city that celebrates Kabir's idea of inclusiveness and diversity.
According to Anand Mahindra, chairman, Mahindra Group, the MKF will be an annual music festival celebrating the 15-century weaver-poet and the many facets of Varanasi. "This festival is an expansion of our commitment towards promoting arts,” he said.
The three-day long festival is open to all. The event line-up includes exponents of the Varanasi gharana and folk traditions, of Sufi music, dadra, thumri, khayal gayaki styles, ghazals and pakhawaj and tabla players. There will be afternoon literature sessions around Kabir, his philosophy, local food and musical evenings as the 'sun sets on the Ganga'. The line-up also features a local group from Varanasi, singing songs of Kabir, followed by a poetry and 'in-conversation' session with Shabnam Virmani and Vipul Rikhi. The 'morning music' at the Darbhanga Ghat will include performances by Varanasi-based musicians Atul Shankar and Pandit Debashish De. This would be followed by literary sessions at the river on the poet's life and teachings, by author Amish Tripathi and writer-lyricist Javed Akhtar. The heritage and food walk would include sampling local kachoris, chaat, parathas, lassi and paan, following a trail from the famous Kashi chaat bhandar to the smaller shops, visiting Kabir Math, Sankat Mochan Temple, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, and watching the local weavers at work. It will end with evening music at the Assi Ghat, with music programmes featuring Rajan and Sajan Mishra, Mir Mukhtiyar Ali, Kabir Café, Vidya Shah, Prahlad Tipaniya, Pandit Ajoy Chakrabarty. The plan is to stage the musicians by the river facing the ghat, where audiences will be seated.
Managing director of Teamwork Arts, the event organiser, Sanjoy Roy says the festival is a platform to revisit Kabir, especially in current times. "The underlying theme is a spiritual and intellectual experience," he said.