“Amritsar is a city of somany stories that telling my stories here is an honour. There is a lot in common between Amritsar and Awadh too — including our shared love forqisse-kahaniyan, the lores, and the language they are told in,” says Askari Naqvi, dastango and sozkhwani artist from Lucknow about his upcoming performance in Amritsar. He is among the marquee set of artists performing at the first edition of the (Sleepwell Presents) Sacred Amritsar Festival scheduled between 24-26 Marchat the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Summer Palace.
The three-day festival of music, literature, and heritage aims to pay tribute to the city that not only stands out for its spirit but also its cultural heritage, layered history, and deep spirituality. In its debut edition, the festival brings together artists from across the country to celebrate poetic verse in its myriad forms — from soulful devotional compositions and dastangoi performances to literary discussions and popular foot-tapping melodies. Curated by Teamwork Arts, the Sacred Amritsar will be an annual event henceforth. “(Sleepwell Presents) the Sacred Amritsar is a series of festivals that focuses on spirituality and built heritage, celebrating the tangible and intangible through music and poetry,” informs Sanjay Roy, managing director Teamwork Arts. He adds that the festivalpays homage to revered poets such as Bulleh Shah, Waris Shah, Kabir, Amir Khusrau, Mirabai, Bhai Vir Singh, Puran Singh, andAmrita Pritam, through a wide spectrum of immersive experiences.
Mornings at the festival will begin with soothing performances that celebrate the musical heritage of India and will feature raga-based performances by masters like Vidushi Dr. Kamala Shankar, known as the first woman Indian classical slide guitarist, and Chinmayi Tripathi, known for her renditions of poetry by Suryakant Tripathi‘Nirala’, Mahadevi Verma, and Ramdhari Singh Dinkar on dotara. One will also get to be part of evocative poetry readings and conversations in the afternoon with the likes of Valentina Trivedi,Navdeep Suri, a former diplomat who has translated major works on the Partition in English including A Life Incomplete and Khooni Vaisakhi. The evenings, meanwhile, will feature unique collaborative performances between a number of national and international artistes such as Rabbi Shergil and Mohammad Muneem.
“I will render Raga Bhatiyar as a part of Hindustani classical music on Shankar Slide Guitar, which is devotional in nature. These beautiful compositions define the beauty of the life cycle. It very well connects with the spirituality and sacredness of the atmosphere,” saysDr. Kamala Shankar. Naqvi meanwhile is looking forward to recitingDastan Miyan AzadKi. “It is a performance carved out of a collection of short tales called Fasana e Azad,” informs Naqvi. “Through this performance I want to bring out the significance of music and poetry which binds us all.”
In the spirit of celebrating creativity, the festival will also have an expression zone called 'Numaish: Poetry, Painting, Performance', organized in collaboration with Khalsa College, Amritsar, Khalsa College Public School, Amritsar; and Spring Dale Senior School, Amritsar. The aim is to encourage students to engage in creative activities and express themselves through poetry writing, musical performances and arts. As a precursor to the event, some interventions are already underway in the educational institutions and will also be a part of the three-day festival.
The experiences at the festival also include heritage, architectural and culinary walks through the old city that has seen a fair bit of struggle. The heritage walks will commence from the Town Hall in the walled city and traverse through Katra Ahluwalia, the sarais and akharas and culminate with a curated lunch at the Town Hall. In addition to the walk,delegates will have the opportunity to go on a guided tour of the world's first Partition Museum, a first-of-its-kind institution that hosts an extensive collection of archives and exhibits, dedicated to documenting and commemorating the history of millions affected during the Partition of 1947. Food walks are aimed at showcasing the traditional cuisine of the city, known for its robust flavours.
While the shows are open to all, curated experiences like the heritage and food walks are especially conducted for the paid delegates. Guests can choose between a single day, evening or a complete three-day experience and a variety of stay options.
The festival is scheduled between 24-26 Marchat the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Summer Palace. For more details, check sacred.in.