Archive Page 2


Basanta Utsav

150305 Holi Crowd1

The whole India is celebrating Holi all together, the festival of colors, also called Dol in Bengal. However, in Santiniketan, students of Visva-Bharati welcome the Spring in their own peculiar way. It’s  Basanta Utsav, a tradition started by The Poet himself.

150305 Holi Colors1


Here, every spring is welcomed with songs – Rabindra sangeet – dances – Rabindra nach – dry ORGANIC colors and, basically, without bhang, this ancient preparation of cannabis’ leaves and flowers. The ambiance is not as wild – and sometimes aggressive – as in other parts of the country but bon-enfant, both friendly and slightly childish.

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The festivities starts with the song ‘Ore grihabashi’ as the students dance their way into the venue.

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Ore Grihobashi, khol dar khol laglo je dol

Sthaule jaule bono taule laglo je dol, dar khol


Oh people! Break open the doors!
There is a spring stir!

150305 Holi Dance1

But who really came to WATCH?

Songs, dances and colors are all around, among the joyful crowd.

150305 Holi Colors3

150305 Holi Colors2


Jhaunjauro baundhono chino kore dee
Amra bidduth, amra chaunchol, amra odbhuth


We break down constraints which bind us…

We are like lightning, we are restless, we are unique

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And, as the restless ones washes the colors off their faces and exhausted bodies, the full moon rises.

The full moon watches.

The full moon inspires.

Happy Holi. Happy Dol.


150305 Full moon


Route2Festival, a revolution underway

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Some might call it a “revolution”, others an “experiment” or a “beautiful initiative”.

Whatever it was, we loved it!

150222 Route2Festival PorgramWho had the idea first? Who took the first step? Who knows, who cares.

They were a bunch of friends, they had a dream and they made it happen.

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 “Traditional to modern. Experimental to post-modern”

The whole experience rested on 4 solid pillars:

eco-friendly // collective // experimental // non-profit

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And – of course – a wonderful selection of artists and performers.

(Both on-stage and in the audience actually)

150222 Sougata Roy C.4 Day 2 of the festival began peacefully with a morning raga performed by Sougata Roy Chowdhury – eminent sarod player – Subhajyoti Guha on tablas and Hania on tampura. 150222 Sougata Roy C.3 Although the strong sun wasn’t very good for the instruments, they played beautifully and set up the bar high for the upcoming artists. 150222 Edith1 150222 Babli After this first performance, festival-goers had time to relax and discover the place: Babli farm, also an experimental initiative located at the edge of what remained of the “Choupahari Jungle”, near Santiniketan. Organic farming, guest-house and canteen, it is NOT-A-RESORT. 150222 Resting area1 Route2Festival’s team worked very hard to accommodate the place the best way possible for the festival-goers and one of their best ideas was this semi-underground resting place. We felt at home and among friends. But that’s maybe because we were!150222 Kaushik's magic1Rest, board-games, make-up and… Kaushik’s magic tricks which let us all bouche née, speechless. By the way Kaushik, we are still trying to figure out how you did it!! 150222 Kaushik's magic6 150222 Make up1 Young parents will have to admit, another great idea the hosts had was the “kids corner”. Quite unusual in India, well thought, the little ones had a blast and we had a break. 150222 Kids corner2

150222 Monami NandiThe program went on with a dance performance by Monami Nandi along with Titas Sen and Anshuman dey. Interesting mix of traditional and contemporary performance. 150222 Monami Nandi12Monami reminded us of those devi who ornament Konarak Sun temple’s bas reliefs, great sensuality and a hint of kinkiness. 150222 Monami Nandi' 150222 Audience Blue stageMoved to the “Blue arena”, the audience could attend to Krishnakali, a performance by Alternative Living Theatre. Little too dark and experimental for some, an interesting and unexpected experience in any case. 150222 Alternative Living theatre5And there she came, Parvati Baul, singer, painter and storyteller from West Bengal. 150222 Parvati BaulBorn as Mousumi Pairal in a traditional bengali family, she was not intended to become a Baul, a wanderer, a mad-woman. Trained as a hindustani singer and dancer, Parvati crossed path with Phulmala Dashi, a woman Baul singer, while she was studying in Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan. She embraced the Baul‘s living tradition with all her soul. 150222 Parvati Baul8A high-pitched voice, an incredible energy, an unbelievable long hair and very strange psychedelic background. She put a spell on us all and set the mood for a frenzied evening. 10911264_1615618482002459_5703698536301150669_oNice little surprise of this festival: Printed Rainbow by Gitanjali Rao, a beautiful and dreamy animation movie who captivated the audience from 2 to 92 years old. 150222 Gitanjali Rao5The organizers had planned another screening but, due to the presence of very young souls, they cancelled the second movie. Anyway, it was time to head back to the Green stage for another incredible performance. 150222 Sound2 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki9Believe it or not, the first time I crossed path with Nathu Lal Solanki was 8 years ago in a small apartment of a residential area in New Delhi. The tenant was almost evicted for him place after this master drummer from Rajasthan shaked the edifice’s walls with his powerful beat. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki6The Nagara player – traditional drum from Rajasthan – came with the vocalist Chugge Khan and both were accompanied for the first time by the bengali sarangi player, Debashish Haldar. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki12And the magic worked! The young and not-so-young got up and dance. The bengali ladies forgot all propriety and shaked their… saris. Vibrant. 150222 Nathoo Lal Solanki Dance2As usual, it’s not easy to pass on the atmosphere using still images and words.

As usual, the best happens off-stage, behind the scene. Unexpected encounters, bonding, fusion… Seeds are thrown and new opportunities might arise. 150222 Parvati Baul&Nathoo Lal Solanki1And on a complete different registre, Jazzeando kept us up and dancing. A french drummer, an north-indian key-board performer and a new-yorker vocalist who got together in West-Bengal to share a common passion for latin-jazz. 150222 Jazzeando1The night was still young, but some of us even younger. We had to head home even before  the lights and sound were off and festival-goers found the way back to their tents and bungalows for a good night of sleep among the trees. 150222 Jazzeando3

So, after this wonderful first experiment, what’s next?


Siempre que te pregunto

Que cuando, como y donde

Tu siempre me respondes

Quizas, quizas, quizas

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Long live Route2Festival!

10273203_1600909590140015_6731538105881015550_o To learn more about Route2Festival and some of the artists mentioned above: – Route2Festival: – Sougata Roy Chowdhury: – Parvati Baul: – Gitanjali Rao: – Nathu Lal Solanki: – Jazzeando:


Suchana Utsav 15′

150215 Suchana Utsav1As october is the month of Durga, as december is the time for Poush Mela, february definitely calls for Suchana’s annual function.

150215 Suchana Utsav4

150215 Suchana UtsavMuch earlier, in 2011, I told you about this wonderful initiative. Well, we are happy to let you know the seeds have grown as well as Suchana’s building.

150215 Suchana Utsav RahulUnder Rahul’s wise supervision, many projects were born. Among others were created a computer learning program going to remote villages of the area, an on-wheels library and launched many children books in adivasi languages – such as sandal and kora transcribed in bengali script. Amar Bhashai Amar Boi or “my books in my language”.

Capture d’écran 2015-02-18 à 10.20.15


150215 Suchana Utsav Art work1Is there a best way to celebrate the hard work than a full afternoon of songs, dances, drama and many other surprises? Suchana certainly excels at it. Even if that same day India was facing Pakistan over a cricket match, the crowd came to attend the annual event. At least the women and children did!


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150215 Suchana Utsav Chorus1As you don’t change a winning team, the program remains basically the same and starts with all kids gathered to sing together in 4 languages: English, Bengali, Santali and Kora. The ones we knew few years ago are now standing on the back overlooking at their little brothers and sisters, proudly standing on the front row.

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150215 Suchana Utsav Kirsty

150215 Suchana Utsav Kora Dance1Red and yellow saris twirling around: those are the adivasi dancers performing a kora dance about bathing in the Ganga. “Silum guti gamcha” says the song.

150215 Suchana Utsav Comedy

150215 Suchana Utsav Dancers1

150215 Suchana Utsav Hindi Dance2The girls are certainly beautiful, wearing there best gowns and flowers in their hair, but somehow the boys always end up catching all the wide-opened eyes: it’s time for the hindi dance! My camera is irrevocably turned towards him, this “Indian Idol”, however it will never make him justice. Energy, precise movements and a lot of sweat. In front of our pounding hearts, Suchana’s danceflour is literally on fire!

150215 Suchana Utsav Audience11We are looking forward for next year’s function and I hope you are too.

150215 Suchana Utsav Hindi Dance8

To know more about Suchana and how you could help:




Santiniketan, our Santitown, the Poet’s abode of peace in the middle of the paddy fields.

150208 Deer Park   Somehow people always find a way to surround Nature with walls, grids and greed. In the middle of natural beauty they create private spaces, parks, reserves… Who are they protecting? Who are they exploiting? 150208 Deer Park0 I would normally neither go or advertise such places. But then… one sunny winter afternoon, on the way of an art exhibit, I got curious and I gave the 10 roupies to enter the steel gate. 150208 Deer Park2

Was it the bucolic scenery? The forest’s chant? The sun’s caress?


Or maybe the local fauna.

150208 Deer Park5 They aren’t afraid of you. They stay still and look at you straight in the eyes – or in the mechanical eye of your camera – it is their territory, their home.   L1010604 2 150208 Deer Park8 And that is when you understand: the grids aren’t made for them. You’re the one locked up, surrounded, hobbled. You’re the distraction. You are the show!   150208 Deer Park11 L1010576 Of course you could not visit the place without crossing path with Lamidi, Santiniketan’s emblematic figure for animal rescue, wildlife ultimate defender and renown misanthropist. What does she thinks when she checks the fences and wires? Does she make sure there’s always a way out for them? 150208 Deer Park7 Will I go back there? Will I advise crowds of tourists to go there? Probably not. But sure, that sunny winter afternoon put a spell on me. 150208 Deer Park1


New Works by K.G. Subramanyan

150205 KG Subramanyan Exhibition

150208 Kala Bhavan2Black and White Mural, Kala Bhavan, Santiniketan, November–December 2009

They are very few social events in Santiniketan. K.G. Subramanyan’s 91st birthday certainly is and called for a special exhibition of his most recent works at Kala Bhavan’s Nandan Art Gallery. Not only he is one of the most renown alumni of the university created by Rabindranath Tagore, but he owned the title of Professor Emeritus and dedicated 25 years of his life guiding Visva Bharati’s aspiring young artists. Sharing his time between Gujarat’s cultural capital, Baroda, and Santiniketan, each one of his visits is duly celebrated.

150205 KG Subramanyan Expo3It is no wonder that Santiniketan’s intelligentsia still welcome Subramanyan with such devotion. This pioneer of indian modern art blurred the barrier between art and crafts, between artists and artisans.

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150205 KG Subramanyan Interview1“I am a restless soul”

He was always keen to promote ancient skills and crafts which had not been destroyed entirely by industry and mass production. Toy-making, pottery, illustration & design, terra-cotta sculpture, literature, he never confined himself to one media.

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150205 KG Subramanyan Interview“Art is something I have to do; my reason for being.”

150208 KG Subramanyan Expo2Born in South India in 1924 and involved, in the early stages of India’s fight for independence along with Gandhiji’s peaceful soldiers, he could not enroll an art college before 1944 when Nandalan Bose, painter and principal of Kala Bhavan, summoned him to join Visva-Bharati.

150208 KG Subramanyan Collage“KG Subramanyan is one artist who has moved to assimilate the traditional and the modern in a twentieth century Indian context. His work appropriates elements of Indian visual tradition, as well as popular and classical elements and reinterprets them through modernist forms and techniques. His works inherit global visual culture, containing elements of Hindu iconography, Euro-American modernism and classical fresco painting. Subramanyan characterises a key section of the broader Indian modernist movement, which seeks to redefine tradition as a living, changing language. This essay argues that the interaction of tradition and modernity in India is indicative of a broader reality: that tradition is a fluid, living form.”

Tradition and the Art of Modern India, Kieran Browne, ANU Press, 2014

150205 KG Subramanyan Expo6If Subramanyan learned from his fellows Nandalal Bose, Ram Kinkar Baij or Benode Bihari Mukherjee, his art was not limited to these indian precursors. The influence of Picasso, Henri Matisse and the formalists are obvious even though absorbed, digested and mingled with indian ancestral tradition.

150208 KG Subramanyan Expo4“His experiments with interpenetration of Hindu iconography and the assimilation of popular, modern, classical and indigenous traditions have been vital to the revival of Indian visual culture. In continuing the work of Tagore and Bose, Subramanyan has enlivened Indian indigenous tradition and reinvented it for present purposes.”

Tradition and the Art of Modern India, Kieran Browne, ANU Press, 2014

150205 KG Subramanyan Expo7“The fulfillment of a modern Indian artist’s wish to be part of a living tradition, i.e. to be individual and innovative, without being an outsider in his own culture, will not come of itself, it calls for concerted effort.”

K. G. Subramanyan

L1010468However, even in presence of such a “giant” of indian modern art history, the media coverage focuses on those few “white faces” in the room…

150205 Ranjani Ramachandran Concert2And because such talent and longevity calls for celebration, the night ended with young singer Ranjani Ramachandran’s homage to the artist.


Chaji in Boner Pukur Danga

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It’s been nearly two years but you could not have forgotten this beautiful and wise face.

Hiro San, artist and japanese tea master, came back to Boner Pukur Danga.

Plum & Sweets

After offering us warm water subtly perfumed with plum and sweets in the waiting room, seven different bell rings summuned us to the tea room.


This is how the chaji starts. Unlike the chakai, it is a much more formal gathering, hold inside a quiet room, more suited for introspection.

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The tea room has been decorated with a delicate flower arrangement. A calligraphy invites us to meditate on “harmony” while the tea master  ritually cleanses each utensil, the tea bowl or  chawan, the bamboo whisk or chosen and tea scoop, chashaku, in a precise order and using prescribed motions.

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Continue reading ‘Chaji in Boner Pukur Danga’


Christmas among indian methodists

December in santiniketan is mostly known for the Pous Mela, this immense fair which, each year, brings thousand of tourists. However, not everybody spends the day wandering within the numerous commercial stalls or at least a few fellows stop for a minute to remember… it is also christmas time.

121225 Foule de noel' SD

Christians are a minority in West Bengal, only  0.6% of the population (according to the 2001 census). However, among the scheduled tribes they represent more than 6%, which can be explained by the evangelistic work among the deprived classes in rural areas, as the methodist did since the end of XIX century.

121225 Sermon de noel SD

This particular sermon, in a very well enunciated Bengali sparkled of a few english words, taught us that christianity is not necessarily coming from “western culture” as some might say in order to denigrate it. Jesus – yisus – was actually born in Bethléem which is located in Asia minor and not in Europe or America.

121225 Chants de noel SD

We’ve also learned that, as a painted ceiling can be reflected in a glass table, we are the reflection of what is up there.

Jesus wanted us to live in joy.

Ananda in Bengali.

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Let’s sing to that and enjoy all together a creamy christmas cake.

Amen in Bengali.