On January 1st Mewar’s ancient terracotta craft centre Molela revived Udaipur’s Shakti Sunday eco-fest energy and delighted a vast diverse audience of tourists and villagers.
Co-organized by the Molela Panchayat, Merijanmbhumi.com (MJB) and Big Medicine Charitable Trust (BMCT), the day-long program featured afternoon craft studio visits and enchanting performances late into the night. The excited evening audience loudly cheered the Sangeet Pravah World musicians, vocalist Shreya Paliwal, Bharat Verma’s Heartbeators, and the dancers & musicians from America’s Vanaver Caravan (VC) – and equally applauded the vibrant singing and dancing by talented local youth.
The crowd also heard from innovative area activists working in reforestation, organic farming, folk medicine, artistic recycling, and women’s empowerment.
Villagers and tourists mingled freely in the huge festival crowd
The entire Molela community and many travellers turned out to enjoy the rare mix of local and international talent and to honour leading eco-visionaries like Maharana Pratap Museum creator Dr. Mohan Shrimali, Piplantri project head Shyam Sundar Paliwal, Jagran Jan Vikas Samiti founder Ganesh Purohit and many more.
Piplantri’s Shyam Sundar Paliwal among many honoured for inspiring green activism.
BMCT cofounder Rita Dixit-Kubiak explained, “Our Shakti Sunday melas try to marry the energies of creative artists and eco-social activists so they empower each other and also encourage spectators to protect their own cultures and bioregions. We learn from models like Molela’s beautiful village life sculptures that artistically depict the deep poetic bonds between villagers and the earth. And from our VC partner’s global folk dance repertoire that uses the beauty of diverse cultures to showcase the body’s ancient magic and promote world peace. Since Molela’s chief goddess Kheramata, Shakti’s local avatar, represents both creative power and eco-defense, people here can understand the linkage and seemed to love the whole event. ”
MJB cofounder, UNESCO correspondent and evening MC Lokesh Paliwal added, “These eco-festivals can also help renew local traditions and livelihoods. Molela is a world class intangible cultural heritage treasure house, but her terracotta craft households have declined by half in recent years. So the Panchayat also helped us bring Shakti Sunday here to celebrate Molela’s traditions, attract tourist interest, and boost demand for its unique arts so they can survive.”
Shakti Sunday tourists visiting traditional Molela craft studios
The organizers extended special gratitude to Molela Sarpanch Bhagwati Devi, terracotta masters Mohan Ji Kumhar & Jamnalal Kumhar, music guru Pt. Avadhkishor Pandey, activist poet Ashok Jain Manthan, Indian Martial Arts Gurukul founder Vishnu Joshi, and VC co-founders Livia & Bill Vanaver for their critical support every step of the way.
The Vanaver Caravan will be performing again in Udaipur on January 14th to help launch the Shaktipur eco-arts park at Pichola’s Maharaja Ghat in Naga Nagri.
Shakti Sundays will be returning to Udaipur in April 2017 at BMCT’s new Creative Economy Centre in Shramjeevi College near Town Hall. Anyone wishing to perform, exhibit or just learn more can contact the project team at bmct ( @ ) greeningindia.net.