Shantiniketan To Host A Weekend Of Cultural Extravaganza

Shantiniketan To Host A Weekend Of Cultural Extravaganza
Visitors shop for handicrafts at the annual craft fair,

Nabanna Art and Craft Fair and associated literary meet to start on March 12

Uttara Gangopadhyay
March 11 , 2022
05 Min Read

At the core of Nabanna Earth Weekend (NEW) is meaningful exchanges, said Anjum Katyal, curator of this annual festival of arts and ideas, happening in Shantiniketan (West Bengal) since 2019. Katyal, who wears many hats – author, editor, translator – and loves to write poetry and sing the blues, came up with the idea of this two-day festival as a part of the older Nabanna Folk Art and Craft Fair to revive the literary and aesthetic essence of Shantiniketan. While many rued the dwindling of Shantiniketan as a creative and intellectual hub, Katyal founded NEW to reinstate this land of Tagoreana to its former glory.

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While the event could not be held last year owing to the pandemic situation, this year it has returned with renewed vigour in the hybrid format – live in Shantiniketan and virtually on Zoom. The sessions, spread over March 12 and 13, have been designed keeping varied interests in mind - Visions of Community: Tagore, Gandhi, Auroville; Against the Odds: Women and Independent India; Flavours of Change: Bangla Ranna — Local to Glocal; Clued In: Crime Fiction and Bengal; Future Perfect: Writing for the Citizens of Tomorrow, to name a few.


Kavita Panjabi, Urvashi Butalia, Romila Thapar, Chitrita Banerji, Chandrahas Choudhury, Prof Gayatri C Spivak (in conversation with Antara Dev Sen), Anjum Katyal, Julia Roberts (of Ginger and Spice Festival), are some of the panellists for this year’s event.

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Rabindranath Tagore had already sowed the seeds of rural reconstruction in and around Shantiniketan through sustainable practices, harnessing local skills and generating employment. Keeping this legacy in mind, NEW will co-present a session on sustainable practices titled ‘It’s Only Natural: All things Local, Sustainable, Green’ with United Kingdom’s Ginger and Spice Festival. The session will also include discussions with organic farmers (co-presented by Sienna Café). Interestingly, Ginger and Spice Festival explores the culinary heritage and history of Market Drayton - a rural market town in Shropshire, central England – where Robert Clive was born and which is known as ‘the home of gingerbread’.

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The annual Nabanna Folk Art and Craft Fair (Nabanna), under whose umbrella NEW is organised, was founded in 2006 by Suresh Amiya Memorial Trust (SAMT). Founded in 1985, by the late Dr Sadhan C. Dutt, former chairman of Development Consultants Group of Companies, SAMT is a charitable trust with focusing on promoting and encouraging art, craft, education, healthcare and appropriate rural technologies. ‘Remembering Sadhan C Dutt: A Centennial Tribute’ will be released during the inauguration of NEW this year by German Consul General Manfred Auster.

Nabanna was started to augment the income of rural artisans and facilitate their access to greater market linkages, said the organisers. Shantiniketan attracts a large number of visitors during the Basanta Utsav (Holi). A fair during this period would not only generate high visibility but also substantial business for the participants. Drawing inspiration from rural Bengal’s harvest festival, known as ‘nabanna’ – a portmanteau word – Nobo Onno – in Bengali meaning ‘new rice’, the fair too recreates the celebratory spirit by showcasing traditional produces and production procedures.

Expect to find displays of various types of rice in the midst of stalls selling a wide range of handicraft items from across the country. Apart from West Bengal, artisans from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana and other states participate in the fair. Craft demonstrations, cultural programs, seminars, workshops, culinary stalls, and welfare activities, all set in the ambience of a village ‘mela’ (fair), are some of the key aspects of the event.

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The Nabanna Folk Art and Craft Fair this year will be held from March 12 to 21. The fair is organised at the Geetanjali Cultural Complex, Santiniketan, and is open to all. There will also be an art competition for students (March 13), workshop on Conservation & Restoration of Textile conducted by INTACH, Kolkata for Kala Bhavna students (March 14 and 15), a health camp conducted by Sri Aurobindo Seva Kendra (March 15), etc.

For more details on both events, check here

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