Holding up Half the Sky

The Mumbai Chapter of 100Thousand Poets for Change, organized by Menka Shivdasani, was a festival of Music and Poetry Reading over four days (26th to 29th Sept 2013) hosted by the popular south Mumbai bookstore Kitab Khana.
The event on 27th was curated by writer and artist Anjali Purohit – Holding up Half the Sky was an evening of music and poetry themed around the lives of women – The purpose here was to create a dialogue between languages, cultures and mediums of expression to create a synergetic interaction that, having expressed themselves together on a single platform, would create a richer and deeper understanding of the issue.

Six city poets read their poetry on three aspects of women’s lives – Women and work, Being Woman and Woman as mother, daughter, partner, wife, lover. Pt Amarendra Dhaneshwar of the Gwalior Gharana accompanied by Mukta Raste on the table rendered the music.

The event began with Marathi songs by the poet Narayan Surve (Dongari Shet Maza ga…) about a peasant woman working on a stony mountainous patch of land and the other by Daya Pawar (Mee Dharan Bandhatey…) about a woman labourer on the construction site of a dam. Annie Zaidi and Anjali Purohit read their poems about women and work.
The section devoted to Being Woman has the song Mungi Udali Akashi written by the 13th Century saint poetess Muktabai and was chosen because at some level it also stands for the contradictions that women live through on a daily basis and yet manage to deal with them to create something that is beautiful. Menka Shivdasani and Rochelle Potkar read their poetry on the subject.

The last section about women in the context of their relationships had two bandishes – thumris – the first one ‘Babul Mora…’ written by Wajid Ali Shah and the other by Amir Khusrau, ‘Lakhi Babul Morey…’. Smita Sahay read her poetry in English and Urvashi Pandya read in Gujarati.

Some memories from that evening –

and –

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