Updated: March 20, 2014 10:38:54 am
Triveni Commercial Complex in Sheikh Sarai Phase I, usually deserted on weekends, was transformed on Saturday evening as it saw a confluence of different cultures. The “Antharashtriya Khirki Festival”, a multi-ethnic gathering of Khirki Extension residents from Nigeria, Uganda, Ivory Coast, and Manipur and Kerala, had music, dance and food to engage the local audience.
The raids by former minister Somnath Bharti on the houses of Ugandan and Nigerian women in January and the growing distrust among locals for ethnic minorities prompted Aastha Chauhan and Malini Kochupillai of Khoj International Artists’ Association, to organise this event as a personal initiative. “After the January incident, things got a little tense in Khirki, but we decided to go on with the event,” said Chauhan.
It was 4 pm when DJ Nusanz from Manipur started spinning old Hindi songs, giving them his own groovy twist, from conventional pop to hip hop and dubstep. Soon to take the floor was the B-boying crew Slumgods, who had the crowd gasping and cheering with their gravity-defying moves.
After which, the crowd was dancing to the beats of Kenny Akindele. A businessman from Nigeria, he led his team in playing the djembe but had to stop his drumming for a few minutes when a local drunkard got too close. “My experience in India hasn’t been pleasant always as you saw here, but I still carry on and try to enjoy it,” said Akindele.
On the first floor of the Complex were video screenings and a photography exhibition, which addressed social issues, and celebrated diversity. Kochupillai, a photographers and a resident of Khirki Extension for the last three years, showcased different faces of her neighbourhood; while another photographer, Nayantara Gurung, co-founder of Nepal Picture Library, chose the closed shutter of a shop for displaying her work themed on ‘memory, identity and history’.
And where there’s music and dance, can food be far behind? From Malayali and Nigerian cuisine to pay-what-you-want ‘Raw-some Khirki salad’ — it was a celebration of individual identities. “We don’t believe that this festival will solve problems, but it is a way of bringing everyone together,” said Chauhan.
Kabir E R & Debarghya Mukhopadhyay
(The reporters are students of EXIMS)
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