Resurrecting forgotten poems
When singer and musician Shruthi Vishwanath was researching on folk music and mystique poets, she stumbled upon a translation of Abhangs (folk poems) by the women of the Warikari community. Since then, she has been trying to revive the works of these lesser-known poets and mystics by performing their poems as songs, so that they are not forgotten.
The nature of the language of these poems drew her towards them. Shruti explains, “In today’s world, there is a great need, perhaps greater than ever to find a voice that helps us question ourselves. The Warikari tradition is a syncretic, inclusive tradition, challenging notions of hierarchy in caste, gender and class that are relevant even today, while holding a mirror to our deepest selves.”
In an interactive session, the artiste will be talking about the relevance of these poems to young children at the Children’s Museum, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) today (January 31).
The Warikari community was born out of a movement started in the 13th century by Saint Gnyaneshwar. The aim of the community was to spread the Bhakti movement in the regions of Northern Karnataka and Maharashtra. Gnyaneshwar stressed the importance of devotion as the most important aspect of worship. He talked about how differences in caste, education and gender were irrelevant.The community still exists but, Shruthi says, their poems are no longer part of their oral traditions, “they only exist in print”.
During the session, Shruthi will talk about how Abhangs help in the understanding of the community’s social and political aspects. She shares, “What I find interesting is it’s understanding of God as accessible as a divergence from God needing to be accessed through the designated religious figure of the idol; it’s understanding of God being close – a playmate, a child, a loved one. The young audience will participate in the conversations surrounding accessing God, and will also be taught songs that they can sing along with the artiste. The spirit of the Abhang is what they will leave with.”
What: My Vithu - A celebration of women’s voices from the Bhakti Tradition of Maharashtra
Where: Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS), Children’s Museum, Fort
When: January 31, from 11am to 4pm.