The Patriots

It is a people-to-people initiative,one that aims to recall history in the present context.

Written by Parul | Published: May 21, 2013 2:23 am

A series of art,theatre and cultural activities mark 100 years of the Ghadar Movement

It is a people-to-people initiative,one that aims to recall history in the present context. Writers,musicians,filmmakers,artists,theatre people and activists,have joined hands to mark the 100 years of the Ghadar Movement. Through various cultural and artistic initiatives all over Punjab,Chandigarh and some other cities in India,the programme aims at bringing to light various issues and concerns in the present society through art,theatre,music and literature.

The Ghadar Party was formed in 1913 in the United States under the leadership of Har Dayal,with Sohan Singh Bhakna as its President. The party was built around the weekly paper Ghadar,published for the Hindustani Association of the Pacific Coast,founded at Portland in 1912. The Ghadarites wanted India freed from the British and made sacrifices for the cause of freedom,dignity and prosperity of the motherland,with many stories of courage,valour and determination marking the movement. “Not just sacrifice and courage,these brave hearts had a consciousness that sought equality for the common man through education,secularism and opportunities for women,’’ says Amolak Singh,the backbone of the Punjab Lok Sabhyacharak Manch (PLS) and President of the cultural wing of the Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar Committee. The organisation is spearheading the cultural movement to mark the centenary of the Ghadar Party . The Manch’s ideology is pro-people and development through the arts and the involvement of people from various fields of art.

The first in the series of cultural activism to mark the movement was May Day celebrations at Ludhiana. Historical plays on violence against women,with regard to recent incidents,and farmers suicides were the main themes,as was a book fair . “Every month,there is an event planned,relating the movement to the present context,’’ says Singh. In Chandigarh ,the centenary celebrations began with the screening of Sanjay Kak’s film Maati ke Laal and a painting exhibition. More films screenings have been planned in the coming two months. “In the Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall,we have updated the library with literature on the Ghadar Movement and also photographs and documents depicting the life of many unsung heroes,’’ says Singh and adds that people from various walks of life are involved in the year-long programme.

As many as 18 theatre groups,many from Chandigarh,are producing plays on the themes of anti-imperialism,liberalisation,globalisation,farmer suicides and closing of government schools in Punjab. Apart from Cheekh Se Udaan Tak,a play on girls and their status in the society,Gadhar Ki Goonj,Yudh Aur Budh,Eko Miti De Put,Court Martial and Daastaan-e-Yaadgaar are some of the new plays by leading playwrights and directors that will travel to Chandigarh and various parts of Punjab. “Audio CDs with songs spanning 21 years and video CDs of films related to many people’s movements will be screened in both rural and urban areas. We will carry our projector along and stop anywhere we find an audience. Here,your identification is your art. There is no space for any political or religious agendas. Just connecting art and people for a cause is our aim,’’ says Singh. Poetry recitations,seminars,book fairs,musical programmes,Daljit Ami’s film Singapore Mutiny,and Rajeev Sharma’s film on the Ghadar Movement are the other highlights of the programme.

“The grand finale will be a coming together of different art forms and artists of various fields from across the country on November 1 with Mela Gadhri Babyaan Da in Jalandhar,’’ says Singh. It’s the unconditional love and support of the people,adds Singh,which keeps their force going against all odds.

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