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Revisit the Mahabharata and other things to do this weekend

Our pick of online and offline events, from a poetry festival to a craft fair, to stimulate the heart and mind and give Netflix a rest  

Shadows Under My Sky-3 2021, woodcut print on paper by Soghra Khurasani 
Shadows Under My Sky-3 2021, woodcut print on paper by Soghra Khurasani  (Tarq )

The Chennai-based Prakriti Foundation, in collaboration with the Ambassade de France en Inde, French Institute in India and Alliance Française of Madras, will hold a dramatised bilingual reading of Karthika Naïr’s Until The Lions on 4 September. The book, whose title is derived from an African proverb—Until the lion has his or her own storyteller, the hunter will always have the best part of the story—is an experimental retelling of the Mahabharata through 18 voices, mostly the epic’s women.

In a 2015 interview with The Hindu, she had talked about the voices she had chosen to include in the narrative. “The people whose names and accounts never appear on edifices, whether of myth or history,” she said, indicating that this fit in with the title of the book, which offers the perspectives of the epic’s marginalised characters. All these voices will come alive in today’s reading, which will be performed by the Paris-based theatre actor and dancer Nirupama Nityanandan.

The reading will be followed by a discussion with Nair, Nityanandan and writer Nandini Krishnan , author of Hitched: The Modern Woman and Arranged Marriage (Random House, 2013) and Invisible Men: Inside India’s Transmasculine Networks (Penguin Random House, 2018). The event is part of the ongoing Poetry with Prakriti Festival, an annual event started by the NGO in 2007 that is now continuing in an online format.

The event will be held on 4 September, at 7pm. For details, visit the Prakriti Foundation’s Facebook page.

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Shadows Under My Sky 

At a new exhibition at Tarq, Mumbai, one sees a gentler and more reflective side of the artist Soghra Khurasani. As art critic Nancy Adajania writes in the catalogue essay: “The fissured earth and volcanic craters are no longer cast in harsh reds and pinks. The artist now dwells on luminous evocations of night, quiet fields, emerald islands and wetlands that nurture processes of germination.” The subtle landscapes look at the connections between human bodies and nature. Khurasani’s reflections on growth, hope and life are extremely poignant. Titled Shadows Under My Sky, this is the Vadodara-based artist’s first show in India after a hiatus of five years. Through her woodcut prints and etchings, she has always been very vocal about religion and ethnicity. In this show, she expresses solidarity with those who nourish the earth instead of exploiting its resources. “She finds a natural affinity with the farmers whose protests have spearheaded a resistance to the Indian State’s attempt to privatise agriculture and concentrate it in the hands of a corporate oligarchy,” states the curatorial note. 

Shadows Under My Sky can be viewed at Tarq, Mumbai, till 23 October, Tuesday-Saturday, by appointment only.

Solving Bengaluru's water problem through poetry

On September 4, multilingual poetry collective Kavya Sanje will offer an evening of poetry to mark the culmination of Namma Ooru Namma Neeru, a project conceived by Art in Transit and BIOME Environmental Trust. The project, which aims at fostering engagement with Bengaluru's water heritage through events, artwork and performance has worked closely with artists, poets, well-diggers, ecologists, and the government to tell these stories. "I'm personally excited by the growing collaboration between artists and the idea of sustainability," says Avinash Krishnamurthy of the Biome Environmental Trust. "I am also excited to observe how the city responds to these new stories told in new ways."

The event will be held at 5 pm on September 4. Log into the Art in Transit Facebook page for Zoom details.

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In search of fair crafts 

With the advent of autumn and winter, and the dreaded third wave of covid-19 mercifully still at bay, craft fairs are back in town. Although the Bengaluru Dastkar Bazaar is an annual feature in the city, this year the organization has decided to host the craft bazaar again, after an outing in February. The Bazaar is a part of Dastkar’s efforts to provide relief and revive the lost livelihoods of craftspeople across India post- the second year of Covid.

Dastkar brings the most authentic experience of Indian handicrafts by bringing a confluence of more than 100 craft groups and craftpreneurs from 20+ states across India within one arena. The fair, this time around, will offer a wide range of lifestyle accessories, silver jewelry, metal crafts, carved furniture and home decor products, pottery and ceramics, basketry and fibre crafts, leather products, traditional paintings, a variety of hand-woven, embroidered, block printed textiles and much more from every corner of the country.

Along with an array of crafts, visitors can expect a variety of food and beverages at a regional food court, from authentic Rajasthani food—the famous laal maas and gatte ki sabzi—to Purani Dilli-style chaats, chhole bhature and Indian Chinese. 

Bengaluru Dastkar Bazaar 2021 will be held at the Jayamahal Palace Hotel from September 1–7, 2021 between 11 AM and 8 PM.

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