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Living the great epic

art and culture Updated: Feb 13, 2011 01:48 IST
Aakriti Sawhney
Aakriti Sawhney
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

For the next two weeks, the sprawling lawns of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA), Janpath and its entire premises will be buzzing with activities that will make you re-live the time of Mahabharata.

This instance in Indian history that inspires every Indian till date, has a new venue, new characters and various interpretations. “Jaya Utsav is not a festival that showcases the age-old tradition but engages people in this whole drama called Mahabharata,” says Molly Kaushal, the brain behind the festival.

The month-long festival will witness theatrical performances, dance shows, symposiums, book fairs, ritual demonstrations and films, which is all a collective expression of various communities and their beliefs coming together on one great epic.

“The Mahabharata stories have various interpretations and it’s very beautiful to see how people from different backgrounds are representing it through various mediums,” says Kaushal.

Other major attractions of the festival are the various ritual demonstrations from various parts of the country. Agni Nritya, also called Fire Dance, from Rajasthan will see dancers reciting stories from Mahabharata and dancing bare feet and hands on the embers of fire. “It’s their belief that makes them perform on the fire.”

Another ritual is Aravan, a festival of transgenders, where the enactment of the sacrifice of Aravan (the virgin son of Arjun and Kannigai) takes place. Besides this, the festival has a food corner inspired from the kitchens of those times. When you are there, don’t miss to try Bhim ke ladoo, a rich preparation of whole wheat, dry fruits and desi ghee. Another thing on your list should be Kunti ke achaar, a rich collection of various pickles and chutneys. “The whole idea is to live that age and time in all possible aspects,” says Kaushal.

What not to miss at the Utsav
1 Chhapan Bhog is a specially concocted dish that includes 56 varieties of delicacies from the land of Braj.
2 Try out this modern-day adaptation of Abhimanyu’s Chakravyuh, designed by artist Naresh Kapuria. It has been designed in such a manner that once inside, you can’t find a way out.
3 A 52-feet long Patta Chitra painting that depicts the whole Mahabharata. Priced at Rs 80,000, it is available at Stall No. 3