Kala Ghoda Arts Festival: Walking, Looking, Shopping, Experiencing
I visited the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival during the first few hours of its opening; some of the stalls and installations were still being set up as I strolled down the famous street which once had the statue of a big black horse from where the street, and eventually, the festival derive the name.
Before entering the main street, the square which is reserved as a parking space on normal days, greets you with installations and stalls; a kind of prerequisite to the main festival. Looking at the ‘Bisleri Maze’ and the ‘Volkswagon Think Blue’ car, it seemed like corporate houses had made the most of the opportunity to extend their brand image. But in fact, this year’s festival probably belongs to the non-profit organisations and folklore that seem to hold the majority of stalls and installations.
Ranging from eco-friendly ‘The Big Bang’ to remind us what the world was in the beginning and how we have corrupted it, to the ‘Silent Noise’ which serves to help us reduce noise pollution, the installations are captivating and, very importantly, thought provoking. One of my favourites was the paper-mache Buddha coasted in sand which was made to emit light and smoke to encourage the idea of ‘spread the light’. The other stand out installations being a non-fanatic artists’ representation of what the country looks to her from her non-theistic view point, or the ‘Submerge’ installation which reminds of the increasing amount of harm we have done to the environment, our historical monuments and ourselves.
The stalls bring in handicrafts from different states – Rajasthan, Delhi, Maharashtra, Manipur, and more – from where Mumbaikars can pick up clothing like t-shirts and kurtas, or home decor like bedspreads and containers. Bringing together different cultures and identities from across the country has been one of the standout features of the festival down the years and it lives on in this year as well.
I was lucky enough to catch the impromptu performance of Rajasthani folk dancers in the middle of the street. Although the language eluded me, my best guess would be that the man was trying to court the woman who in her own graceful manner was coy and timid and refused his advances. The all male show, including the role of the woman, was a quick act which gathered a large crowd quickly and dispersed them happily and peacefully almost as quickly at the end.