A 12 year old girl, a software professional, a business consultant, a principal of a school together chanted “Boom Raka Boom Raka Boom Chak Boom....” to the beats of a drum in unision. This was one of the many verses of Bhil song-poems that transported the eclectic mix of audience into the rich and unexplored world of the Bhil tribes of North Western India. Reciting from his book “Flight of Arrows” Mr. Randhir Khare , eminent poet and artist along with percussionist Haridas Shinde and imagery by Susan Bullough-Khare, gave the audience a peek into the customs, rituals and the spirit of the Bhil community at the opening event of Gyaan Adab.
Gyaan Adab is a newly formed cultural and creative space set up in the tree lined avenues of Kalyani Nagar, that endeavours to bring literature and art enthusiasts across all ages, class and ideologies to read, interact and share the experiences of literature free from political and religious agendas. Its premiere event, called Flight of Arrows was, an evening of interactive audio visual experience which began with the audience milling through the collection of books present in the evolving library at Gyaan Adab and getting to know its environs better over hot beverages.
The evening kicked off with Randhir Khare introducing the world of Bhil’s living in scattered settlements across parts of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat to the audience through stories, and incidents from his two decade long association with this community. His experiences were interspersed with his rendition of a few song-poems like, “The Fair”, “The Bride-Price Won’t Do” and “The New Collector” among others that was recited to music that the audience joined in. This world was then further delved into with a projection of photographs by Susan Bullough-Khare which helped the audience visually experience firsthand the life of people belonging to this oft forgotten tribe.
The word Bhil, is derived from the word Bil that literally means “Bow”, which is why people from this community popularly known as “Bowmen”. They are historically the caretakers of our forest lands and are known to have been integral in saving much of our forest cover while finding sustenance and employment through Mother Nature even today. Even though Bhil’s are bereft of a cohesive identity to this day their customs, traditions, language and outlook to life are rooted in their beliefs from nature. This was the essence of the world that the audience was transported to, during the hour long event at Gyaan Adab. Imagery from their land, their sacred spaces, their music and their faces not only brought them to life but face to face with the banker, the student and the homemaker in the audience, who remarked, “this evening took me into another world where I left behind all my stress of day to day life.”
These are the kind of experiences Gyaan Adab hopes to put together for the citizens of Pune in future. So if you’re looking for that quiet alcove to read or listen to some music or discuss a poem that touched your heart this is the place to do it in.