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Winter is always the best time to visit Kolkata. There’s great food to be had, the stifling humidity dies a quick death, and the local population emerges from the post-Pujo grief, ready for the next round of events. An upcoming one that’s a little offbeat, but highly educational is the Indian International Science Festival (IISF) 2019, slated from November 5 to 8 this year. A STEM-meets-tangible-heritage event being organised at the national level, its theme this year is Indian handicrafts.
The IISF’s schedule is split over four days of exposition, workshops, demonstrations and conferences, led by 300 master artisans and craftsmen. Exhibitors will include those who work with weaving, metal sciences, calligraphy, carving, jewellery, painting and sustainable materials. The exchange of information and new ideas is meant to boost the safekeeping of our cultural heritage, and will include insights and panel discussions from unusual innovators and state and national awardees.
Unmissable names include Shri Hanuman Saini (known for his miniature paintings in the Kishangarh style); classical flutist Pt Keshav Ginde, who designed a flute that goes up to 3.5 octaves (as compared to the usual 2.5); and Vashant Shinde, the professor and archaeologist recently in the news for the Rakhigarhi Project. A sample of the demonstrations in store? A kantha showcase by Farah Khan, who champions the indigenous embroidery (and female artisans) from her boutique in Fort William.
The event is meant for a host of audiences—students, entrepreneurs, rural and semi-urban artisans, researchers, historians—and is being organised in association with non-profit Vijnana Bharati, and the Ministries of Rural Development; New and Renewable Energy; Environment, Forest and Climate Change; and Information and Broadcasting.
Launched in 2015, IISF is an exercise in increasing public engagement with science in inspiring and practical ways. Our desi arts and crafts have always held a soft spot and immense public fascination—despite many of us not being able to name more than a handful—so it’s an interesting way to kill two birds with one stone.
The event will be held from November 5 to November 8 in Science City, off the E.M Bypass in Kolkata. Entry is free. The exposition kicks off with an inauguration at 2pm on the first day, after which demonstrations, workshops and panel discussions continue from 9am to 6pm the next two days. The last day only has the exposition. You can register for activities here.
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