Mumbai: Fourth edition of Dhasal literary festival to focus on marginalised voices
The festival, which made its debut in 2016 to pay tribute to Marathi poet, writer and Ambedkarite-Dalit movement activist Vaibhav Chhaya, has grown over the years to become a platform for artists from the Dalit-Bahujan community.
Last year, 22 artists from across Maharashtra had come together during the event. This year, a total of 142 artists from across states will take part in the programme.
In its fourth edition, the Dhasal Literature Festival, set to kick off Saturday on Mumbai University’s Kalina campus, will concentrate on the issues of the lumpenproletariat or the unorganised underclass devoid of class consciousness, Marathi poet Vaibhav Chhaya said.
The festival, which made its debut in 2016 to pay tribute to Marathi poet, writer and Ambedkarite-Dalit movement activist Vaibhav Chhaya, has grown over the years to become a platform for artists from the Dalit-Bahujan community, Chhaya said.
According to Chhaya, at a time when the city’s otherwise vibrant culture scene was not even talking about caste-based discrimination, let alone giving artists from the community a platform, Dhasal had created a parallel space for the marginalised voices. Through his revolutionary poetry, Dhasal, also the founder of Dalit Panthers, “created a parallel space for the marginalised voices”, Chhaya said.
Drawing inspiration from Dhasal, Chhaya began organising Dhasal Literature Festival four years ago.
“Each year, we select an aspect of Dhasal’s poetry and make it the festival’s theme. For instance, the second edition of the festival looked at Ambedkar’s symbolism in his (Dhasal’s) work, while in the third year we sought to bring out the aesthetics of women in Dhasal’s poetry,” Chhaya said.
Titled ‘Sara Kaahi Samashtisathi’, this year the festival will delve deep on the issues of the lumpenproletariat, he added.
“Dhasal had given voice to the issues of the working classes and this edition (of the literature festival) is a celebration of that,” Chhaya said. “Take for instance the play ‘Nangeli’. A stage production will depict Nangeli’s struggle and rebellion against breast tax that women from purportedly the lower castes had to pay in erstwhile Travancore.”
While Dhasal’s philosophy may be at the heart of the festival, its main aim, Chhaya said, was also to provide artists from Dalit-Bahujan community a platform.
Referring to the presence and support of artists belonging to ‘upper castes’, Chaya said, “The upper castes may have sidelined us over the years, but if we do the same to them, it makes us no different from them. So, we will be happy to allow an upper caste artist to take the stage if they have something to say. We wish to rise above the politics of hate. But the platform will remain one that is reserved for the community.”
Courtesy:The Indian Express