Cultural heritage is an important foundation for a strong and cohesive society but becomes especially vital to draw from, in times of socio-cultural and socio-political upheavals. Agra became the city of Sulh-I-Kul (Peace with all) during the reign of Akbar in the sixteenth century. This theme got imbibed not only in its architecture but also its culture and history. Over the years, the idea of Sulh-I-kul has been invoked many times to remind the larger social discourse of the importance of peace and communal harmony. This Monday marked the beginning of one such event being organised in Agra called Rang-E-Sulh-I-Kul. Organised by coming together of various city based organisations and initiatives, the four day event from 5th to 8th March 2018, now in its second edition is trying to bring together city's youth in order to rejuvenate the cultural milieu of the city and revive its socio-political heritage of 'Sulh-I-Kul'.
On 8th March, International Women's Day, Rang-E-Sulh-I-Kul saw its conclusion at Meri Paatshala located in Bag Muzaffar Khan. Little children of Meri Paathshala were brought together to dabble in colours and paints. Kajal Sharma in the traditional format of Kissagoi (Storytelling) narrated Ismat Chugtai's story "Adhi Aurat aur Adha Khvab" (Half a woman and half a dream). Aarti Sarin and Dr. Shashi Tiwari gave vocal performances. Dr. Nasreen Begum, the coordinator of All India Progressive Women Association, spoke about the history of 8th March, the International Women's day and the struggle of women that underlines this day.
Thus ended the four day Rang-E-Sulh-I-Kul bringing together artists and performers of different media as well as citizens of the city under one initiative in a bid to share the cultural and socio-political heritage of the city of Agra. Youth participated in good numbers and also helped organise as well as contribute through their talents in the organisation of the four day event.
Wednesday was the day of the youth at the Rang-E-Sulh-I-Kul with young artists sharing the stage and showcasing an assortment of talents and creativity at Nagari Pracharini Sabha. Everything from paintings to dance, mimicry to solo acting, instrumental music to live painting were on display.
The evening began with a solo Kathak performance by Antara Mukherjee. This was followed by a speech by Dr. Jyotsana Raghuvanshi in remembrance of Dr. Jitendra Raghuvanshi which was marked by personal remembrances along with explorations of social and political concerns in the present scenario.
Ashish Dhadhich, presented a soundscape of the city through mimicry with a sojourn through the various lanes and bylanes of Agra. Mohith Kulshreshta gave a solo acting performance of an extract from the famous short story of Premchand, "Bade Bhaisahab" (Elder Brother).
The highlight of the evening was an experimental performance that sought to combine visual and performing art in one theme. While Anal Jha recited a melodious composition on flute, Deepak Bhadauriya spread colours on the canvas and created an artistic piece live in front of the spectators and audiences. Bhaskar Jha performed a poetry recitation and the evening ended with a performance of "Braj Ki Holi" by Kajal Sharma and Antara Mukherjee.
Like everyday there were paintings, sculptures, photographs and cartoons on display within the hall and exhibited a wide range of talent in the fine arts.
Faiz Ali Shah on the other hand made a case for making Urdu a truly Indian language rather than looking at it as a preserve of a religious community alone. Senior professor from Baikunthi Devi Kanya Mahavidyalaya, Dr. Nasreen Begum spoke about Urdu in reference to its pedagogy and its scholars.
The evening also witnessed a performance from Shubham Singh Jakhad on Hawaiian guitar, Bhanu Pratap Singh on tabla and Abbas Ameer Jaffari as vocalist. Keeping in tune with the theme of a multi-dimensional approach, the event also included an exhibition of cartoons by Madan Gopal who featured many scenes and individuals from the city through the art of caricature. At the same time FTCG also presented a performance on "Bin Pani Sab Soon" (Without water everything is useless).
On Wednesday the event enters its penultimate day being hosted at Manas Bhavan, Nagari Pracharini Sabha.
Monday saw the inauguration of the event at Goverdhan hotel located near Delhi Gate by Bhavana Raghuvanshi and Saiyyad Ajmal Ali Shah. Keeping in theme with the heritage of Agra and in the foreground of Holi, famous poet Nazir Akbarabadi's song "Jab Falgun Rang Jhamakte Ho" (When Falgun (Spring) disperses the colours) was sung by Akanksha Sharma. Songs were also performed by members of IPTA.
Another icon of Agra's cultural heritage, the Bhakti poet Sur was remembered through a dance performance by Nritya Jyoti Kathak Kendra, dramatising the "Sur ke Kanhai" couplet. Amrtilal Nagar's work "Seth Bankemal" was performed by Nirmal Singh.
Along with songs, dances and dramatic performances, the event had a multi-dimensional approach as it also featured a photographic exhibition of Agra's lanes, ghats and monuments by Wasif Sheikh and Anuj Lahari under the "Zoom on Agra" initiative.
With a promising start, the event today heads into its second day with yet again a wide range of events from different media being held at Shahid Smarak in Sanjay Place.