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Tree time

In Bangalore, artists come together to pay an uncommon and festive tribute to nature

By Katherine George

Unfettered Beats: Muthu Kumar
‘It’s different from any sponsored event,’ says Praveen of the band Yell-O
At a time when many artists have to divide their time between creating works and getting them sponsored, some still choose to pursue art for art’s sake.

During a festival, held an hour away from Bangalore last Saturday, a wide range of musicians and performers came together to sing for an enthusiastic audience. It was an event for the artists by the artists. Some played chaste Hindustani classical music, others Western notes. But they conveyed one message – the need to preserve the environment. Fittingly, the festival is called ‘Bhoomi Jathre’, a festival celebrating nature. The idea for a non-sponsored came three years ago from Kirtana Kumar, a filmmaker and her husband Konarak Reddy. Both realised the need for a platform where artists would be able to perform without giving in to the restrictive demands of sponsors.

The venue was not hard to find — Fireflies, an ‘eco-ashram’ on the Kanak- pura Road on the outskirts of Bangalore. Run by the Pipal Tree Trust, its activities revolve around local environmental issues and meditation. That’s how Bhoomi Jathre started. The dusk-to-dawn event has a theme every year. This time, the festival paid tribute to Marra Devaru (the tree god). An appropriate theme considering the rate at which trees are being felled in Bangalore to widen roads, says Kumar. A photo exhibition by NA Naseer on the theme of trees was also displayed in the venue. The Jathre began with classical music renditions. Musicians like Prakash Sontakke played the Hindustani slide guitar. Mysore Nagaraj and Mysore Manjunath played the violin. Two rock bands Mynd Snare and Yell-O gave the event an exciting pace.

The entire event was put together in the spirit of a village fair. Food stalls dotted the ground. A bustling flea market, a painting competition and a book stall were the other attractions. The Jathre ended at 6.30 am.

Festival over, the artists packed up their stuff. The only remuneration they received was a share of the gate collection and they were more than happy with it. “This festival is different from any other sponsored event,” said Praveen Yell-O’s lead guitarist.

The flecks of bright yellow and white lights that bordered the dusty road leading to Fireflies may have died down after the festival. But the glow of the event has not dimmed.

May 07, 2005

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