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Study says the Kumbh Mela is the Greatest Show on Earth




The Kumbh Mela, one of the largest religious gatherings in the world, to be held at Sangam in Allahabad early next year has been described as the “greatest show on Earth” in a four-year study.

Up to 100 million people will gather on the shores of the Ganges to celebrate the Hindu festival commencing on 14th January 2013.

For four years the team of British and Indian researchers have been studying the event, seeking to understand how people treat each other, how they experience the crowd and what impact the crowd has on their everyday lives.

They will present their findings at a special event at Allahabad University on 24th January 2013. The study described the Kumbh Mela as an incredible event and the “greatest show on Earth”.

The Kumbh Mela attracts worldwide attention as a remarkable spectacle: millions of pilgrims bathing in the Ganges, parades of gurus on thrones, flanked by naked Naga Sadhus smeared in ash.

This research, led by Nick Hopkins at the University ofDundee, Prof Stephen Reicher at the University of St Andrews, and Prof Narayanan Srinivasan at the University ofAllahabad shows it to be remarkable in other ways as well.

How is it that a vast city of strangers emerges from nothing every year, and yet it functions harmoniously? How is it that people thrive in an environment that is densely crowded, intensely noisy and often insanitary?

The event in Allahabad will provide the answers to these and other questions about the Mela. It will also provide insights that are relevant, not only to the Mela, but go to the heart of processes that make human social life possible, which create (or undermine) social cohesion and which shape our sense of well being.

“Sometimes we look at the Mela as an exotic event and focus on how different the pilgrims are from us. Our work shows how the pilgrim experience has lessons for all of us about how to create a good community and to ensure that people thrive in the community,” Hopkins said.

“By all the tenets of conventional wisdom, the Mela shouldn’t work. It is crowded, noisy and unsanitary. One might expect people to be stressed, quarrelsome and conflictual. Yet the event is harmonious and people are serene. Studying the Mela has forced us to reconsider many basic beliefs about how people function in society,” Reicher said.

Narayanan said, “This has been the largest ever social science collaboration between the UK and India and possibly the most successful. The event in Allahabad will be very exciting. It will reveal findings that are sure to surprise people. It will change their understanding of crowds and communities.”

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Varanasi to Hold a Two Day ‘Sanskriti Mahotsav’



To celebrate the creative and cultural industries in Varanasi and to focus attention on the need for Swachhta by using cultural forms, a Sanskriti Mahotsav “Swachhagrah – Bapu ko Kaaryaanjali” is being organized on February 21-22 at the Man Mandir Ghat and Assi Ghat in Varanasi.

The Mahotsav will integrate the tangible and intangible heritage along the river-belt and will see the engagement of the academia, artists, artisans, writers, poets, environmental and cultural forums on the use of cultural expressions for conservation and protection of the river and the ancient city.

The Swachhtadrive will be steered by school-children affiliated to Ministry of Culture, Government of India’s Interpretation Centres through exhibitions, songs, puppetry, nukkad nataks and folk dances.

The 2-day event would focus on performances on the theme of ‘Swachhagraha’ presented under the rubric of ‘Swachhagraha: Bapu ko Karyanjali’.

The Mahotsav will cover a profusion of art forms from classical, folk music, dance and visual arts and would offer the chance to experience the best in established and emerging virtuosity. An exhibition on Varanasi curated by the National Archives will be showcased at the Man Mandir ghat to the creation of Virtual Museum.

The National Gallery of Modern Art in partnership with the Fine Arts School of BHU will conduct painting and terracotta-sculpture workshops for students of Cultural Interpretation Centres set up in several schools by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India.

Installations and large canvases drawn by children on the theme of Swachhta will be exhibited at prominent places and ghats of the city. Buses, Boats provided by the District Administration and prominent walls will be covered with graffiti art and with multicoloured murals and tags celebrating the theme of ‘Swachhagraha: Bapu ko Kaaryaanjali’.

During the Swachhagraha Music and Dance Festival, the classical arts of Varanasi will be celebrated at a stage created at the Man Mandir ghat. On 21st February, the program will start with a tabla recital by five-year-old Avantika Mishra, granddaughter of Padma Vibhushan Pandit Kishan Maharaj.

The LIVE coverage of Ras Banaras Mahotsav can be seen on the Youtube channel of Sanskriti.goi from 6 PM on February 21 and February 22.

Children from the Interpretation Centres will perform Swachhta Geet. The duo of Pandit Narendra Mishra and Pandit Pooran Maharaj will perform on Sitar and Tabla respectively while Sanjeev and Ashwini Shankar will perform on Shahnai. In the dance segment, Saurav and Gaurav (from the Benaras Gharana) will perform Kathak dance.

A melange of colourful and traditional handicraft and textiles from Varanasi and other parts of the country will form part of a Crafts Bazaar at Assi Ghat. Art connoisseurs will get a chance to interact with artisans and watch their work in progress.

The bazaar will include folk performances by folk singers and dancers from different states with a special focus on Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, the states paired with Uttar Pradesh under the Ek Bharat Shreshtha Bharat matrix. A small food corner will also bring out the aroma of Varanasi and tribal cuisine from Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya.

On the second day of the Mahotsav, the evening will open with the Swachhta Geet by children, followed by Malini Awasthi’s vocal rendition. She will be followed by Kathak dancer, Vishal Krishna. The event will end with Shruti Sadolikar’s classical rendition. Ravindra Jaiswal, MLA, Varanasi North, Dr Neelkanth Tiwari, MLA, Varanasi South, Saurabh Srivastav, MLA, Varanasi Cantt., Surendra Narayan Singh, MLA, Rohaniyan and Neel Ratan Singh Patel, MLA, Sevapuri will also grace the occasion.

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Global Theatre Olympics Arrives in India for the First Time



The 8th Global Theatre Olympics will be inaugurated at the Red Fort in New Delhi on February 17, 2018, by Vice President M. Venkaiah Naidu. This Global Theatre Festival is being held in India for the first time.

Addressing media persons at the National School of Drama in New Delhi today, the Minister of State for Culture (I/C) and Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Dr Mahesh Sharma said that it is for the first time in the history of independent India that a theatre festival of such a large magnitude is being organized.

The 51-day-long event will travel to 17 Indian cities with 450 shows, 600 ambience performances and 250 power packed youth forum shows. 25000 artists from across the globe will participate in the festival which will conclude on April 08, 2018 with a grand ceremony at the iconic Gateway of India in Mumbai.

Speaking on the occasion, the Acting Chairman of National School of Drama Society, Dr Arjun Deo Charan said, “We are extremely proud to bring the world’s largest theatre festival to India. During this 51-day long nationwide celebration of the 8th Theatre Olympics, we attempt to bridge the borders across countries through the call of theatre and engage in creating a global village”.

Prof. Waman Kendre, Director, National School of Drama said “We should be proud of our theatre legacy that is more than 2500 years old. This illustrious event provides a unique opportunity for cultural exchange through the medium of theatrical art. With this international event, we wish to express our theatre practices, its variations, philosophies and the sheer strength of our texts, narratives and ways of presentation in front of a global audience. In return we extend our arms to welcome the practices, ideologies and philosophies of visiting performers. The objective is to create a platform for conversation between voices of Indian and global artists with an intent to enrich our collective understanding and expression of art,”.

The theatrical extravaganza is being hosted in India by the National School of Drama under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The theme of the 8th Theatre Olympics is “Flag of Friendship” that aims to bridge borders and bring people of different cultures, beliefs and ideologies together through the medium of theatrical art.

The 8th Theatre Olympics is being organized with a budget of Rs.51.81 Crore and the performances will be held in 30 Indian languages, 15 foreign languages as well as non-verbal languages.

Participants from 30 countries including Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mauritius, Nepal, Poland, Russia, Sri Lanka, South Korea, Spain, Turkey, U.K and U.S.A would showcase their acumen in theatre. The foreign invitees are Theodoros Terzopoulos (Chairman of International Committee of Theatre Olympics, Greece), Tadashi Suzuki (Japan), Robert Wilson (U.S.A), Liu Libin (China), Jaroslaw Fret (Poland), SahikaTekand (Turkey), Eugenio Barba (Denmark), Romeo Castellucci (Italy), Heiner Goebbels (Germany), PippoDelbono (Italy), Jan Fabre (Belgium). Among the Indian theatre maestros are RatanThiyam, AlyquePadamsee, Rudra Prasad Sengupta, M.K Raina, Raj Bisaria, Bansi Kaul, Prof.Tripurari Sharma, Maya Rao and Soumitra Chatterjee.

Numerous allied activities like exhibitions, symposia, ‘Interface’ and workshops with well-known academicians, authors, actors, designers and directors are scheduled to take place across 17 cities.

The allied programs would boast of 60 ‘Living Legends’ series and 50 ‘Master Classes’. The 8th Theatre Olympics would also include 2 international seminars in Delhi and Mumbai with 6 national seminars in Bhopal, Bengaluru, Chandigarh, Jaipur, Kolkata and Varanasi.

Theatre and film veterans of the likes of Shabana Azmi, Paresh Rawal, Manoj Joshi, Himani Shivpuri, Seema Biswas and Saurabh Shukla will also take part during this grand theatrical treat.

The foreign invitees are Theodoros Terzopoulos (Chairman of International Committee of Theatre Olympics, Greece), Tadashi Suzuki (Japan), Robert Wilson (U.S.A), Liu Libin (China), Jaroslaw Fret (Poland), SahikaTekand (Turkey), Eugenio Barba (Denmark), Romeo Castellucci (Italy), Heiner Goebbels (Germany), PippoDelbono (Italy), Jan Fabre (Belgium). Among the Indian theatre maestros are RatanThiyam, AlyquePadamsee, Rudra Prasad Sengupta, M.K Raina, Raj Bisaria, Bansi Kaul, Prof.Tripurari Sharma, Maya Rao and Soumitra Chatterjee.

During the festival, plays will be held in Agartala, Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Chandigarh, Chennai, Delhi, Guwahati, Imphal, Jaipur, Jammu, Kolkata, Mumbai, Patna, Thiruvananthapuram and Varanasi.

About Theatre Olympics

The Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 at Delphi, Greece. Being an international theatre festival, the Theatre Olympics presents some of the greatest theatre practitioners from around the world. It is a platform for theatrical exchange, a gathering place for students and masters, where a dialogue despite ideological, culture and language differences is encouraged.

Since 1993, the Theatre Olympics has been held seven times in the following countries: Japan (1999), Russia (2001), Turkey (2006), South Korea (2010), China (2014), Poland (2016). The theme of the latest edition of Theatre Olympics being held in India is “Flag of Friendship”. This most awaited event of world theatre in India attempts to bring all the creative minds from across the globe to this ‘NatyaMahakumbh’.

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Veteran Ottanthullal Artist Geethanandan Passes Away During Performance

Acclaimed Ottanthullal artiste Kalamandalam Geethanandan passed away while delivering a performance on Sunday at Avittathur, Kerala.



Acclaimed Ottanthullal artiste Kalamandalam Geethanandan passed away while delivering a performance on Sunday at Avittathur, Kerala.

The 58-year-old theatre artiste and film actor collapsed on stage in the middle of the act. He was given first aid and rushed to the hospital. However, he could not be saved.

Geethanandan had given more than 5,000 stage shows since the age of nine. He became the teacher of Ottanthullal at Kerala Kalalamandalam in 1983 and remained the head of the department for over 25 years. His contribution to Kerala’s classical theatre art form is immense.

He was also the first Ottanthullal artiste to perform in France in 1984, according to media reports.

Geethanandan had also worked in the Malayalam film industry. He made his big screen acting debut with Kamaladalam, which had Mohanlal in the lead role, in 1992. He also acted in films like Thooval Kottaram, Manasinakkare, Narendran Magan Jayakanthan Vaga, among others.

Malayalam actor Kavya Madhavan learnt Ottanthullal under Geethanandan’s guidance. Celebrities and high-profile people from different walks of life expressed their condolences on Twitter.

“The legendary Ottanthullal artiste Shri Kalamandalam Geethanandan passes away on stage, right in the middle of his performance in Avitatthur temple in Kerala! What a dream death for any performing artiste! Prayers and condolences! Atma Shanti!,” tweeted author and art critic Veejay Sai.

Ottanthulal is a classical dance form from Kerala, performed by very few artists now. Thullal, a solo performance, based on poetry combines dance and recitations, is one of the oldest art forms of Kerala. It finds its origins in the Natya Shastra, belonging to the 2nd century B.C. Verses of the renowned 18th century poet Kunchan Nambiar are often used for Ottanthulal performances.

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