Kabir to inspire hearts in Nepal

Kathmandu, Dec 2 - He was thought to have been born a Muslim and yet his songs are part of the Guru Granth sahib, the sacred text of Sikhs. A weaver by profession, yet he became one of the driving forces of the Bhakti movement in India that advocated love and tolerance.

Now the life and dohas - couplets - that 15th century Sufi poet Kabir wrote will touch hearts in Nepal when noted filmmaker Shabnam Virmani brings her Kabir Project to the Himalayan republic this week.

Documentary maker Virmani, whose camera is known for capturing the anguish of women in rural India, including the infamous case of Roop Kanwar, who committed "sati" in Rajasthan, will bring to Kathmandu Friday the fruit of her six years' labour, the Kabir Project.

Organised by the Indian embassy, the three-day Kabir Festival aims to acquaints Nepal with Kabir and his poetry, whose essence is secularism, nationalism, religion, tolerance and harmony.

"We want to introduce Nepal to the radically transformative power of Kabir's poetry," said Apporva Srivastava, spokesperson at the Indian embassy in Kathmandu.

The journey with Kabir starts at Nepal's National Theatre in Kathmandu Friday. Over three days, the four films that form the core of Virmani's Kabir Project - "Chalo Hamara Des", "Kabira Khada Bazaar Mein", "Had-Anhad" and "Koi Sunta Hai" - will be screened followed by performances by folk troupes from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh as well as panel discussions.

From the capital, the festival will spread to the border towns in the Terai plains: Janakpur and Birgunj.

The Kabir Project, supported by the Ford Foundation, is an evolving programme interacting with cultural groups, educational institutions and individuals, reaching out to very diverse audiences.

Virmani, an artist-in-residency project at the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology in Bangalore, says that as the next phase of the project, work has begun to create a multi-media web site that will contain the music, poetry and ideas of Kabir.

The web-space, according to the Kabir Project, will be co-created with the involvement of folk singers, along with innovative social experiments to vitalize the Kabir oral traditions at the village level.

"We are also holding exploratory workshops with teachers and educators to brainstorm ways of bringing the ideas and values of Kabir into the classroom," the Project says.

Srivastava says that after the Kabir Project, the embassy would like to explore the possibilities of bringing the works of other Indian "saints" to Nepal, like Tulsidas, whose Ramayan is already popular in Nepal's Terai and has been translated into Nepali. (IANS)