The few times that Azamgarh has found itself in news has been because of its terror tag. But a three-day festival that opens in Delhi today aims to show an Azamgarh that lives beyond the harsh spotlight. The festival of rural arts and crafts of Azamgarh organised by The Indian Trust for Rural Heritage and Development (ITRHD) will exhibit the crafts and traditions of three villages that fall in the Azamgarh district: Hariharpur,Mubarakpur and Nizamabad. It will host an exhibition of Banarasi saris with demonstrations by weavers from Mubarakpur,and you can also catch the potters from Nizamabad at work here. In Mubarakpur,90 per cent of the village is engaged in weaving Banarasi saris while Nizamabad is known for its black pottery.
Hariharpur near Varanasi has a rich musical tradition with practically every family practising some musical form. Well-known musician Pandit Chhanulal Mishra belongs to Hariharpur and the classical music performances at the festival will highlight Azamgarhs musical legacy.
We want to introduce these cultural traditions to the Delhi audience,and also to bring a change in peoples perception of Azamgarh as a haven for terrorism. The district has a tradition of poetry and the festival will showcase this, says S K Misra,chairman,ITRHD,former INTACH chairman and former principal secretary to the PM. The year-and-a half old organisation is working towards preserving the cultural traditions of these villages while ushering in development. This February,they opened a school in Hariharpur and are working on opening more schools and health centres in these villages. Its not just about heritage but also about development. We are also working to establish design centres for both Mubarakpur and Nizamabad.
The organisation plans to make the festival an annual feature but Misra says it will probably travel to a different city every year.