Sporting Culture

Sporting Culture

There was a predictable disquiet at Delhi’s Bikaner House on a sultry Wednesday afternoon.

There was a predictable disquiet at Delhi’s Bikaner House on a sultry Wednesday afternoon. The hurly-burly of buses taking tourists for Rajasthan darshan,mixed with loud cries of taxi drivers calling out to people for a Delhi tour were punctuated by the traditional,Rajasthani welcome: Kesariya baalam aaoji,padharo maare des. Despite the din,the lilting notes of Saare jahan se acchha played on woodwind instruments and small marching drums by Jaipur Kawa Brass Band were conspicuous.

This is also one of the eight tunes to be played at Shrewsbury and through the streets of Belfast City,in the UK,when the torch for the 2012 London Olympic reaches there on June 13. The band stayed at Bikaner House for their rehearsals before they boarded a flight for the UK on Wednesday night.

“Brass bands have been an important element of British history. Our military bands are known for their brass martial tunes. It was later that they became a part of Indian weddings as street bands. It is a big honour to take our street band to a place that invented the style,” says Hamid Ali Khan,creative director of the band. Khan adds that a Kawa Circus — with a slew of puppets,folk theatre artistes and kalbeliya dancers — will also accompany them for the parade. A composition in Hansadhwani raga has been prepared for the Belfast evening. “It is a happy melody for a happy event. The irony is that the Indian government has never bothered about this band. This invitation has come from British Council,” he adds.

Jaipur Kawa Brass Band is not the only Indian cultural representation at the Olympics this summer. Tabla maestro Ustad Zakir Hussain will perform with a band of Scottish musicians at the Battersea Park in London on July 21 and 22. The session will explore tunes on Scottish bagpipes paired with elaborate rhythms and virtuoso improvisations.


Meanwhile,the skyline of London has changed for good with Orbit,designed by Indian-origin artist Anish Kapoor and Sri Lankan-British designer Cecil Balmond. Located between the Olympic Stadium and Aquatics Centre,the 114.5-metre spiralling metal tower was unveiled earlier this month. “It is an object that cannot be perceived as having a singular image from any one perspective. You need to journey around and through it. Like Tower of Babel,it requires real participation from the public,” says Kapoor,describing the architecture on his website.

That’s not all. Dotting the streets of six East London Host Boroughs for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games will be 48 billboards designed by Indian graphic artist and filmmaker Sarnath Banerjee. He is one of the five artists chosen to be a part of the London 2012 Festival. The Kolkata-born artist will produce a series of posters and a graphic narrative “around the shared history of competitive sport”. The focus will not be on the winners,but the near-misses or partial successes.

While Indian sportsmen aim for the gold,work is in progress for a world record of another kind. The Big Dance 2012,to take place in Cardiff,Wales,on July 15,aims to go down in history for the largest Bollywood dance performance ever. To be held as part of the three-month cultural extravaganza,it will bring together performers such as Apache Indian,Kamal Raja,Kiran Dhanoa and Jassi Sidhu,to inspire the onlookers to dance along and create a world record. Other international artistes participating in the cultural arm of the sporting event are singers Baaba Maal,Jay-Z and Yoko Ono,actress Cate Blanchett,and artists Tracey Emin and Ai Weiwei.

With inputs from Dipanita Nath