“Pothi Padh padh jug mua pandit bhaya na koi, dhai akhar prem ka padhe so pandit hoi”. – Kabir
Poetic Translation: No one became a scholar, reading great books of the world, But he who’s studied the four letters of ‘love’, is one learned man so tall.
Dhai Aakhar Prem Ka (literally two and a half letters in the hindi word ‘pyar’ or ‘prem’ that means love), was the simple message of Kabir. A simple teaching that encompasses the essence of existence inside it. And that was the idea, the feeling that The Kabir Festival, Mumbai tried to gently impress upon. The idea was not to make you hear the words of Kabir’s, but to experience Kabir in different forms and dimensions – dance, music, poetry, painting, pottery, rock, folk, classical, intellectual discourse etc. The substance of each was compassion, kindness and love for everyone and everything around.
We all have a rough idea of who Kabir was. But a man is not his flesh and bones for if it were so, Kabir would not be alive today, in the multitude of forms and feelings that he continues to exist. And this is the Kabir we wanted you to experience – the Kabir of ideas, of emotions, of love and of devotion.
In the grand finale at an open stage by the sea at Carter Road, Bandra, we felt the message come through as the gathering – most constant, some shifting – swelling to a few thousand, experienced the music and the dance, the words and the trance of Kabir hovering inside, above and all around.
Rajendra Chaturvedi began the event, dancing to the words of Kabir and light of a setting sun behind him. The different dance performances by his team enthralled the audience. The show stealer however, was the dance by four little girls. Gleaming with glee, they were energy and verve personified at their young age.
Kabir and Kutch came together through the voice of Mooralala Marwada and even a little problem with the sound system was unable to get his, or the audiences spirits that soared with his high pitch, down. His dholak player was unwell, but he played for over an hour.
Prahlad Tipaniya, the rural rock star from Malwa with millions of fans, developed a small following of die-hard fans of his own in Mumbai in the last few days. These fans roared and cheered him while he sang, and then thronged him after he was through.
When time came for the last performance of the night, and thus of the entire festival, it was naturally hoped that it would end with a high. Thanks to the imitable Mukhtiar Ali, the wish was granted.
The Mirasi folk singer teased the audience with his humour, delighted them with his vibrant motions and lifted them to another plane with his voice. The crowd rose up and many of them were seen hopping and dancing to his celebration of the spirit of unity through Kabir’s words.
Prahlad Tipaniya paid tribute to the spirit of the 50 odd volunteers who made the Kabir festival possible in Mumbai, especially Priti Turakhia who accepted this, and the words of gratitude and appreciation by the Master of Ceremony Nitesh Mohanty, with a graceful smile. She praised the hard work of the motley group of volunteers who worked tireless for months.
In the end though, the hard work bore fruit, as The Kabir Festival Mumbai, 2011 proved to be the biggest Kabir festival in the urban space so far. As completely free and walk in festivals go, a new benchmark has been set for the city of Mumbai, and indeed for much of the profit-seeking urban spaces.
For those who came to hear, watch and through it feel Kabir’s message, it was like Kabir said and Prahlad Tipaniya sang, “Laali mere laal k i- jit dekho tit laal, Laali dekhan main gayee – main bhi ho gayi laal”
Poetic Translation: The colour of my beloved is spread all over in sight, I went to see it and got colored in the same light.
The master of ceremony declares the evening open
Strike A Pose - Rajendra Chaturvedi
In The Lap Of The Setting Sun
The Sun Ran Out Of Breath, Not The Dancer
The Kathak Dancer From Russia, Swaying To Kabir
Chanan Chanan Mori Payal Baje
Sitar And The Dancing Man
Little Dancing Angels
Angels, The Sky And The Audience
Shall We Dance To Kabir
The Meerabai to The Kabir Festival Mumbai, Priti Tu-Rakhia
Kabir Goes Ooh-la-la with Moora-la-la
Shine A Light
Open Air Concerts Can Be Jam-packed Too
The Enlightened MC - Nitesh Mohanty
Mikhtiar Ali's Freedom
Showing The Road To Awe
The Band's Already 'Mukhtiar Ali And Sons' - Mukhtiar Ali With His Two Sons
The ME - Master of the Event Priti Turakhia Saying Goodbye To The Kabir Festival Mumbai 2011. See You Next Year, And In Between Too
Everyone Was Lost In Love - Dhai Akahar Prem Ka
– Photos, text and ‘attempted’ poetic translations by Satyen K. Bordoloi