Stories are the threads that weave the fabric of culture, identity, and history. Beyond entertainment, stories influence emotions and perspectives, the building blocks of a society. Every passer-by has a story; platforms such as Humans of Bombay (HOB) listen and record them. Now, HOB, launched in 2014, is set to bring online stories to an offline space through the debut edition of their Bombay Storytelling Festival.
Inspired by the photoblog Humans of New York by writer Brandon Stanton, which started in 2010, HOB was founded by Karishma Mehta, writer and photographer, as a Facebook page to tell stories and connect strangers. Today it is a community of over 3.2 million people and over 6000 stories, according to their official website.
The day-long Bombay Storytelling Festival is HOB's new initiative to help audiences experience stories they read on the platform outside the digital realm. For this, the festival will host immersive experiences such as The Storyteller’s Stage, human library, panel discussions, and open mics. Touted to be “a celebration of the undaunted human spirit and the power of community,” the debut edition will be held in Mumbai at Bayview Lawns on 28 October, according to a press statement.
For almost a decade, HOB has shared stories of individuals who have overcome challenges to find joy, from well-known personalities to individuals whose lived experiences have come to inspire many. The festival aims to be “a melting pot of raw, unfiltered, and authentic conversations.”
Along with different forms of storytelling, there will be live music performances, food stalls, and art installations. The festival will focus on sustainability and host small business owners and emerging voices in the space.
“In our fast-paced world, stories have the power to bind us together. With the Bombay Storytelling Festival, we dedicate a day to celebrate stories of love, hope, faith, and courage. Our aim is to create an inclusive event where everyone can share their narratives without inhibition, regardless of gender, caste, creed, race, sexuality, or ability,” Mehta said in the statement.
Mehta further added that the festival is rooted in the authenticity of HOB’s stories that come with a sense of belonging. The offline event aims to be inclusive and bring together the HOB community and reach a wider audience.