The Blue Lotus Festival

blue lotus2013 is an exciting year for all of us folk back home in India. Festivals have begun to kick off early this time around. It isn’t quite in chronological order but the first of the festival posts starts with the one we are most excited over. Sideways to Sound had the privilege of catching up with Berenika Rozanska, the festival producer of The Blue Lotus Festival at the IndiEarth Expo 2012 for a little chat on what to expect from this unique event.

Lets start from the very beginning shall we?

The blue lotus festival is basically the crown jewel on the 8 years of work we have being doing with folk and traditional musicians in and around Rajasthan. It started as an archival project with the De Kulture musicology documentation project. This involved going to villages and finding artists from smaller communities which aren’t so well known to the public. It also focused on finding musical styles that are now on the verge of extinction. The founder and owner  Sambhav Bohra began going to villages and recording the music he found to be exceptional. He took this project to Rajasthan, Gujrat and Punjab and has recorded more than 2000 artists.

We  then started releasing CDs of the music we found, paying attention to packaging and presentation. One set is more expensive and caters to tourists and the upper middle class with good packaging and an explanation of the songs working as souvenir. The second set is called dhun where the music quality is the same but the packaging is a little cheaper to encourage the local community to start buying and listening to their own music again. It’s a way to create access for the community.

The other way of promoting the music was through live shows. We started this a year ago pitching for international shows and tours. So far we have completed four tours in Europe across 8 countries with three groups. We are now planning a tour in Australia and the USA. We realized that going abroad helps the artists gain respect and status in their community, thereby bringing the younger generation back into the art form.

Tell me a little about the festival and what to expect.

The festival will take place between the 13th and the 18th of February. The 13th will be the opening night with a large show on the sand dunes, a procession through the city and a ceremony on the ghats. The next four days will be based on certain themes that we are finalizing as we speak. Themes like love, Sufism, life etc.

The festival will be held in public places so the locals will also have access to the festival as well. During the day we will have workshops, movies and conferences that people can drop in on. Art of living classes and yoga will also take place early in the morning. Post the last performances within city limits buses and camel carts will take you out into the sand dunes where the shows will continue. The festival is a five day immersion into the world of Indian Traditional music.

What kind of music are we expected to hear?

This festival is solely focused on India and its musical traditions. We want to present the music in its purest form. To name a few we have traditional artists from Gujrat, Rajasthan and Calcutta. IndiEarth is also helping us bring in more artists from all over India.

It must be hard trying to propagate a festival like this within the middle class Indian community. Most of us seem to think of traditional music as uncool or not worth our while.

Surprisingly our CD sales in Rajasthan and most Indian metros are doing quite well. Yes, quite a few are bought by expats to take home as souvenirs but we have seen an increase in sales by the Indian community as well. The group isn’t large but I firmly believe that this is changing. This is also why our festival is designed to be a complete experience. As I had mentioned earlier we have workshops, yoga and other events happening apart from the music. We also have food from different parts of India as well. One can look at it as another more exciting way to spend your holiday.

‘The Blue Lotus Festival is an unprecedented event focused on presenting the richness of genres and styles of best of Indian Sufi, Folk, Traditional, Gypsy, Tribal, Devotional, Spiritual and Indigenous music from 13th to 18th February 2013. The festival will be celebrated in Pushkar – an ancient town of great cultural and historical importance in Rajasthan, India.’

You can also book your accommodation along with your passes so as to have a hassle free holiday. From the sound of it this festival is bound to be a one of a kind experience. To book your passes click here. De Kulture has put together a teaser for the festival, as if we aren’t excited enough already.

For a little taste of what you might hear at the festival we have Bachu Khan performing Loomba and a personal favourite; Mohini Devi Kalbeliya performing Kalyo Kood Padyo Mela. Both artists will perform at the festival.



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