I’ve never before been to a literature festival that began each day with live music, or one that ended with a massive musical bang!
Both Saturday and Sunday began with the beautiful voice of Saberi Misra, accompanied by Dhanraj Persaud on tabla and Prabhat Rao on harmonium. They are all students at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, an Indian cultural institution teaching music, dance and languages as well as hosting other exhibitions and cultural programmes. Over 900 students attend the Bhavan.
On Saturday, Saberi Misra opened the day with Raag Bairaagi and Vaishnav Janato, the latter considered to be Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite bhajan (devotional song) and no doubt in honour of the man as his granddaughter Tara Gandhi Bhattachargee was present during the first day. Sunday began with the bhajan ‘Re man murakh janam gavaa o’ and a Meera bhajan ‘Urh ja re kaga ‘.
The JLF ended with almost two hours of music from the Kutle Khan Project musicians and singers. They sang many famous songs and folksongs and gathered a huge audience as they brought the Festival to a close. Their dancers added colour and flair as they encouraged the audience to get up and dance the evening away, and there were many who joined in with the singing and dancing. I couldn’t tear myself away from the music and missed two trains in the process! It was worth it. I wouldn’t have missed this stunning end to a magical weekend. Without hesitation I would buy music by any of these musicians and singers and would gladly have purchased CDs at the JLF if they had been available.