On a rainy evening, in the middle of the week, it was refreshing to see a large group of intellectuals and artists gathered at Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT) in the city. In the wake of the brutal three-week of Israeli bombing in Gaza, Delhi art fraternity came together in solidarity with Palestine.
The event witnessed intense performances by Kashmiri artist Inder Salim and poetry recitation by veteran actor Sharmila Tagore and others.
The event opened with Salim’s powerful performance where he was dressed in traditional pheran and smashed watermelons on the ground. Each melon had olives and a line of poem by Mahmoud Darwish. It was symbolic of the violence which is happening in Gaza with the red of the watermelon symbolising bloodshed and olives (that are grown there) denoting Gaza land. This was for the people to taste Gaza.
Talking about the initiative, photographer and activist Ram Rahman, who was also one of the key organisers, said, "We’ve done a photo studio with people wearing scarves, as a way to register their creative protest in support of Gaza. We’re making a statement here."Actor MK Raina, co-organiser, said that Indians have always been great friends with Palestine from the time of Mahatma Gandhi and therefore, we can’t be behind.
"We feel that Indian artists are pained about what is happening in Gaza and we have to raise our voice in solidarity," he said.
Rahul Ram of the Indian Ocean band crooned to the tunes of protest songs such as Agar Ho Sake Toh Ab Koi Shamma Jalaiye. The vocalist said, "Sitting here in Delhi, there is very little that one can do. So it’s great if somebody gets together and highlight what’s happening. I can’t go to Gaza, so I think it’s our way of support."
OTHER ARTISTS SPEAK UP
Whatever is happening in Gaza is shocking. We are talking about everything else but Gaza. This event is giving a space of focused attention to this issue. - Rakshanda Jalil, writer
It is sad to see what is happening in Gaza and I am here for 100% support. - Subodh Gupta, artist