The International Festival of Sacred Arts, Delhi 5 to 9 March 2010

                                                                                                       february 2010 programmes


monday 8th  february
6.30 pm “Healing Foods: the Ayurvedic Tradition” a talk by Dr. Vinod Verma
at India International Centre Main Auditorium 

saturday 13 february
12 to 2 pm Food Meditation 5 - A talk by Dr. Bharat Gupt followed by lunch organized by Anaam
at The Attic

tuesday 16th   february 6.30 pm
'The Order of Myths' a documentary film on secret mystic societies and Mardi Gras
at The Attic 

thursday 18th   february 6.30 pm  
" Sattriya's Journey from Sattra to Stage" a talk by Arshiya Sethi
at The Attic 

saturday 20th  february
6.30 pm
  Sattriya dance at Birla Mandir, Mandir Marg

tuesday 23 february
6.30 pm
Dhrupad  Master Class by Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar

thursday 25th february
6.30pm ’Persian Qawwali’ a recital in the qawwali style of the Persian Poetry of Mirza Abdul Qadir “Bedil” by Chand Nizami and group at
Bagh e Bedil, opposite Matka Peer, Mathura Road 

Walk No.1.  
saturday 20th february 2 to 6pm
Walk No 2
.   thursday 25th february  2 to 6 pm

sat 27th february "Persistence/Resistance Film Festival"
SOUND OF TIBET; Awakening Kindness (80 mins)
A Documentary Film: (2010, 80 mins) World Premiere
Directed by Kim Joon-Nyeon, Narrated by Emi Hayakawa
at India International Centre





 Along the Spice Routes of the World

 monday 8th  february at India International Centre Main Auditorium
6.30 pm “Healing Foods: the Ayurvedic Tradition” a talk by Dr. Vinod Verma

Charaka, one of the principal contributors to Ayurveda wrote over 2600 years ago that food, sleep and oneness with the cosmos are three means of attaining health. Even the Sanskrit word for food - Aahar means eradication of disease.  

Hippocrates, the Father of Western Medicine said 2300 years ago "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

Ayurvedic healing with food does not only depend upon the quality and specificity of food. Ayurvedic food culture is very complex and complete and to put it briefly in Dr. Verma’s mantra, it is – Who eats what, when, where, how, how much and in which circumstances. According to the eight golden principles of Ayurveda, we should take into account our fundamental constitution, age, time of day and year, the climatic conditions of the region where we live and our state of mind when we eat food. Even chronic problems like acidity, bloating, constipation and lack of appetite can be cured by following these rules.

The lecture will also provide some home remedies, which can be prepared from ordinary kitchen spices. In fact, Ayurvedic Cuisine is a little apothecary and knowledge about the medicinal value of spices should be revived in our lives and be used for prevention and cure. 

Foods are classified as sattvic, rajasic and tamasic according to the quality of the impact they have on the heart, mind and spirit. Sattva is a quality of mind which induces clarity, harmony and balance and help balance rajas and tamas in our lives, which is predominant in modern times. 

Ayurveda categorizes foods by rasa (taste) as sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent and astringent. The typical diet includes plenty of the first three tastes and not enough of the last three. Ideally all six tastes should be included at each main meal. Nutrients are not good or bad, they are cold, hot or balanced and it is this balance that rejuvenates and heals.

Dr Vinod Verma has a doctorate degree in reproduction biology from India and one in Neurobiology from Paris University. She pursued advanced research at the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda (USA) and the Max-Planck Institute in Freiburg, Germany. At the peak of her career in Germany, she realised  the  fragmented and non-holistic approach of modern medicine to health care and set up The New Way Health Organization ( NOW)  in 1986 to spread the message of holistic living, preventive methods for health care and various self help therapeutic measures.

Dr. Verma grew up with a strong familial tradition of Ayurveda with a grandmother who had enormous Ayurvedic wisdom and was a gifted healer. She has been studying Ayurveda in the traditional Guru-shishya style with Acharya Priya Vrat Sharma of the Benares Hindu University for the last 23 years.

She has published 19 books on yoga, Ayurveda, Women and Companionship, which are published in various languages of the world.  Dr. Verma is doing several research projects on medicinal plants and has set up a social service project to distribute and promote the use of Ayurvedic remedies and yoga therapy in rural areas of India. Her latest book is ‘ Ayurveda Food Culture and Recipes’ soon to be published in an Indian edition.

She is the Academic Director of the Charaka Ayurveda and Yoga Academy and Cultural Centre (CAYACC) in Göttingen.

This lecture will be followed by dinner organized by The India International Centre under the supervision of the speaker.  Reservations can be made by IIC members only. Tel. 24619431



Places of Worship Series of the 2nd International Festival of Sacred Arts (


saturday 13 february
12 to 2 pm Food Meditation 5 - A talk by Dr. Bharat Gupt followed by lunch organized by Anam
at The Attic 

'Saparyaa paryaayah bhavatu yan me vilasitam' (let each motion of mine be
an act of worship), says the Saundrya Lahiri a tantric text written in praise of
Devi. This feeling is shared by nearly all systems in India that advocate devotion or bhakti or dedication of the mind to an higher consciousness.

The ways of bhakti or surrendering to Divine are not one but many and each of them has its own specific method of establishing a relationship of the individual consciousness to the Supreme Reality. The sensory experience has to be made a part of the larger experience.

Of the five senses, taste is cultivated culturally to provide pleasure or rasa beyond satiation of hunger. in Tasting of partaking rasa has also been a metaphor for aesthetic pleasure in all arts. But as eating and tasting is a major sensory indulgence it needs to be directed to a higher aim with spiritual effort and training.

The talk shall take the various methods that are used in the Indian practices such as Vedic sacrifice, offerings to the deity, vipaasana, vaishvanara dhyana, langara, bhandaaraa and others.

The food that will be served is sourced from a village in the Garhwal Himalaya where the villagers still practice traditional techniques of farming. No chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used and crops are grown from seed saved from the previous year’s harvest. These villagers have been an active part of the Beej Bachao Andolan, (Save the Seeds Movement)

Anam leads the food meditation session. He is a disciple of Osho and a founder member of the Gurdjieff Foundation of India. He has led 4 successful sessions earlier at The Attic and has organized this special event for The International Festival of Sacred Arts which is taking place during the months of February and March 2010. He is also organizing the Lunches for this festival at the IGNCA from 5th to 9th March.

The food will be brought from the surplus harvest from the village. It will be eaten in total silence, with awareness and without distractions.

Bharat Gupt, an Associate Professor in English at the College of Vocational Studies of the University of Delhi, is a classicist, theatre theorist, sitar and surbahar player, musicologist, cultural analyst, and newspaper columnist. He is trained in both, Western and traditional Indian educational systems. He was awarded the McLuhan Fellowship by University of Toronto, and the Senior Onasis Fellowship to research in Greece on classical Greek theatre. He has lectured extensively at Universities in India, North America, Europe, and Greece. He was a Visiting Professor to Greece and member of jury of the Onasis award for drama. He serves on the Visiting Faculty at the National School of Drama, Delhi, and as resource scholar at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts and several other major centres and academies of the arts. His published books include: Dramatic Concepts Greek and Indian (1994), Natyasastra, Chapter 28: Ancient Scales of Indian Music (1996), Twelve Greek Poems into Hindi (2001), India: A Cultural Decline or Revival?(2008).

Participation is by registration on payment only. Telephone The Attic 23746050 or email Charges Rs 100 paid in advance only
Only 30 participants and no walk-ins for lunch. All are welcome to the lecture 

 tuesday 16th february 6.30 pm
'The Order of Myths' a documentary film on secret mystic societies and Mardi Gras at The Attic
in collaboration with The American Centre with a short musical Mardi Gras introduction.

Director: Deborah Brown (77 mins, 2008, Winner of Cinematic Vision Award at Silverdocs, Nominated for Grand Jury Prize at Sundance)

Synopsis: Traces the exotic world of secret mystic societies and centuries old pageantry of Mardi Gras as celebrated in Mobile, Alabama where it remains a segregated event. Against the opulent background, the film uncovers a tangled web of historical violence and power dynamics, elusive forces that keep this hallowed tradition along enduring colour lines.

thursday 18th february 6.30 pm
" Sattriya's Journey from Sattra to Stage" a talk by Arshiya Sethi at The Attic

Sattriya dance, from the eastern state of Assam in India is located in a matrix of an intense system of belief. It is drawn from a five hundred year old dance and comprehensive theater tradition nurtured in the Vaishnav Monasteries of Assam. Preserved by the monks, most of them celibate, the dance form of Sattriya, has been extracted, like many of the other Classical Dance forms of India, from a mother theatrical tradition. In the year 2000, it was declared a “major dance tradition of India” at par with the others loosely called the Classical dances of India. This action introduced into the pantheon of the classical dances of India, a rare aesthetic and spiritual gem, but raised a deep problematic that has many aspects to it. It raises several questions of motivation, cultural property and management, appropriation and future of the style. This talk will firstly demystify its background, contextual crucible and its aesthetics. The second part will touch upon some political issues and explain how the form has been impacted.

A practitioner and scholar of Indian dance for over twenty years, Arshiya Sethi has long been concerned with the dynamics surrounding traditional dance and dancers working during times of social transformation. Issues of preservation, presentation, and the progression of art forms have been the subjects of her research and very active public career. Arshiya Sethi has been the Executive Director of the Delhi International Arts Festival that includes performing arts, visual arts and film, since its inception in 2007. Before that she served as the Creative Head of Programmes of the India Habitat Center and has also worked with the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

She is one of the foremost contemporary scholars of Sattriya and has been the dance critic for the Times of India for several years. For nearly three decades she has hosted and narrated a program on national television showing archival value recordings of the greatest Indian dance and musical performers. Ms. Sethi has been a Fulbright Fellow in 2003-2004, attached with New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.


saturday 20th  february
6.30 pm
  Sattriya dance at Birla Mandir, Mandir Marg

In the year 2000 the 8th Indian classical dance form was ‘officially’ recognized by the government of India. Sattriya was ‘created’ by the Assamese Vaishnav saint Srimanta Sankardeva in the 15th century. It was born and grew within the rigid disciplines and austerities of the ‘Sattras’ (monasteries) and was performed by male monks as part of their daily rituals or to mark special festivals. From about the middle of the 19th century women and male stage performers were also allowed to perform. 

Originally the themes of Sattriya Nritya were mythological or as accompaniments to one act plays (Ankiya Naat). Like the other seven classical dances the principles required of the form are already encompassed within Sattriya. Nrrta (pure dance), Nritya (expressive dance), Natya (dramatic elements) and a distinct repertoire (marg) already formed part of this style. The dance is accompanied by musical compositions (borgeet) based on the classical ragas of Indian music. The instruments that accompany a traditional performance are khols (drums) taals (cymbals) and the flute. The violin and the harmonium are recent additions.

The dresses worn by the dancers are usually made of an Assamese silk (pat) hand woven into intricate local motifs. 

Dancers and musicians: Sattriya Kendra Guwahati
Supported by Sangeet Natak Akademi


tuesday 23 february
6.30 pm
Dhrupad  Master Class by Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar

Ustad F. Wasifuddin Dagar, a representative of the 20th generation in the Dagar family, is a Guru –Shishya parampara product, the age old tradition where the guru shares his art with his students and allows them to share his way of life too. The gharana tradition allows the students the liberty to interact with his guru as he lives in close proximity with him, there he gets the opportunity to imbibe more than the music, all aspects of his life. Although the present day shishyas may not be in a position to live with their guru, the essence of dedication and trust can still exist and be the foundation of this relation.

The Ustad will give a “master class”, teaching students exactly the way he was taught by his gurus. The individual class will be followed by an introduction to the meaning behind riyaz which is actually a method for improving the musicality and musical skills of the student through the practice of musical phrases. The student is given a particular musical phrase which will help him to improve upon the techniques in which he is not good. It is done in such a way that the student does not even feel that he is being corrected for this particular technique.

A question and answer session will follow during which people can freely ask guru and students about the training and\ the music


thursday 25 th february
6.30pm ’Persian Qawwali’ a recital in the qawwali style of the Persian Poetry of Mirza Abdul Qadir “Bedil” by Chand Nizami and group at
Bagh e Bedil, opposite Matka Peer, Mathura Road

 Slection of text by Dr Akhlaque Ahmad ‘Aahan’, translations in English by Dr Aahan and Sohail Hashmi

 Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil

From the late 13th century, with the great Sufi poet Yamin-ud-Din Khusrau Persian began to replace Turkic. And by the middle of the 16th century became the first language of the Mughal court and the educated elite. The next century saw the rise of some of the finest writers of Persian verse that the sub continent had seen, the tallest among them undoubtedly was Bedil.

 Mirza Abdul Qadir “Bedil” (1644-1720) was the unquestioned king of Sabk-e-Hindi (The Indian style of writing Persian). Bedil's impact on Rekhta was acknowledged by the great poets who came into prominence during the next two centuries, inluding Ghalib and Iqbal and both tried to follow his footsteps.

Bedil, Ghalib and the great Master Amir Khusrau, (credited with developing the Qawwali ) continue to be rated highly in Persian speaking areas, specially Afghanistan and Central Asia.

Bedil’s father and uncles were officers in the Mughal Army and suffered the consequences of siding with prince Shuja against Aurangzeb after the death of Shahjahan. Bedil’s family was uprooted and he was to eventually settle down in Delhi where he died at age 74, far away from his birth place Patna

Through his uncle Bedil had come in touch with prominent Sufis of the times and lived like one himself. Despite a large body of followers from among the courtiers and the elite of Delhi he kept his distance from the Mughal Court.  

He wrote more than a 100,000 couplets including Ghazals, panegyrics, quatrains and close to 4000 Rubais and several Masnavis aside from several texts in prose. 

Qaul (Arabic) is an "utterance". The practice of chanting qauls at a Mehfil-e-Sama’a where only daf (tambourine) could be played to keep the beat, gradually developed into the Qawwali.  

Qawwâli is essentially a form of Sufi devotional music popular across the Indian subcontinent, with a vibrant musical tradition that stretches back more than 700 years. Originally performed mainly at Sufi shrines it has gained mainstream popularity. 

The qawwali singers, known as qawwals consist normally of a group of two or three rhythmists, a lead singer, a second and/or a third lead and others who clap vigorously in time with the beat. 

Some authorities credit Khusrau with the invention of the form, while others believe that it evolved gradually from the Qaul through three generations of Chishti Sufis. Qutub-ud-Din Bakhteyaar Kaaki, Baba Fareed Ganj-e-Shakar and Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Auliya. 

It is Nizam-ud-din’s disciple Amir Khusrau who is credited with the text and musical compositions that qawwal’s usually sing, especially at Sufi Shrines. Khusrau is believed also to have fused Persian influences with Indian musical traditions in the late 13th century to create Qawwali as we know it today.

The poetry is implicitly understood to be spiritual in its meaning, even though the lyrics can sometimes sound secular or even hedonistic. The central themes of qawwali are love, devotion and longing (of man for the Divine). 

Dargah is a Sufi shrine built over the grave of a revered religious figure, often a Sufi saint.  

One of the least known Dargahs of Delhi is the Bagh e Bedil in the heart of New Delhi. Situated adjacent to the National Stadium opposite Pragati Maidan on Mathura Road it is a beautiful, simple shrine surrounded by an unkempt forest, even its ‘urs’ being largely overshadowed by that of other Sufi saints of Delhi, notably those of Nizammudin Auliya and Amir Khusrau.

The songs which constitute the qawwali repertoire are mostly in Urdu and Punjabi but this evening in a unique collaborative experiment with Dr Akhlaque Ahmad ‘Aahan’ , Sohail Hashmi, the conceptualiser of this event and Ustad Chand Nizami and his group, who have specially learned these verses in Persian we bring you possibly the first ever recitation and singing of Bedils poetry in the Qawwali form.  

Qawwals: Chand Nizami, Shadab Faridi Nizami, Sohrab Faridi Nizami and party 

This event will be preceded by the release of “Mirza Bedil”, the recently published work on the life and work of Mirza Abdul Qadir Bedil, authored by Professor Nabi Hadi, with a preface by Dr Akhlaq Ahmad Aahan, who has also edited the volume.  


 These two walks have been created by Robinson with the desire to bring forth the unique diversity that existed within the magnificent city of Delhi and the religious tolerance that still makes all these places of worship an important living part of the city. 

To coincide with 2 events in The Places of Worship Festival, (a part of The 2nd International Festival of Sacred Arts) well known theologian, poet and author Robinson will conduct the following 2 walks:

 Walk No.1.   saturday 20th february 2 to 6pm 

1400 hrs meet at Banyan Tree IGNCA, Janpath (Opposite National Archives)

Vishwa Shanti Stupa
The Judah Hyam Synagogue
Gurudwara Rakab Ganj
Sacred Heart Cathedral
followed by walking on  Mandir Marg
from Kali Bari up to Birla mandir.
In time for the Sattriya performance 

6.30 pm Sattriya dance by Dancers and musicians: Sattriya Kendra Guwahati (see Places of Worship section for details of this performance)


Walk No 2. thursday 25th february    2 to 6 pm 

1400 hrs meet at Banyan Tree IGNCA, Janpath (Opposite National Archives)

Parsi Ajuman
via Darya Ganj driving past the Jama Masjid onto Chandni Chowk
Jain Lal Mandir
Gauri Shankar Temple
Gurudwara Sisganj
Sunehri Mosque[from outside]
Fatehpuri Mosque
St. Stephens Church

The walk will end at the picturesque Bagh e Bedil for the Qawwali . 

6.30 pm’Persian Qawwali’ a recital in the qawwali style of the Persian Poetry of Mirza Abdul Qadir “Bedil” by Chand Nizami and group (see Places of Worship section for details of this performance) 

Delhi, a city with a living history constantly inhabited since the century ninth is full of artistic, architectural and religious diversity. Amongst the beautiful monuments left by many dynasties are the places of worship belonging to different traditions, religions and cultures.

 The predominantly Hindu and Jain city Lalkot of the 9th century in the Mehrauli area lies adjacent to the first ever Muslim mosque, the Quwatt-ul-islam and the 12th century  Qutab Minar.

Other areas of Delhi contain important Hindu temples, the Yogmaya and GauriShankar temples and the Birla Mandir. The Sikhs have many historic Gurudwaras -  Sisganj, Rakabganj and DumDama Sahib which reflect important incidents in the life and death of their Gurus.

The city is also an important point for someone studying the evolution of mosque architecture from the Quwatt-ul-Islam mosque, the Qila-i-kuhna mosque in the Purana Qila, the Jamali-kamali and finally the grand Jama Masjid.

The city is rich in Churches across denominations even before the British made it their capital in 1911.There are Armenian churches in Sarai Rohilla and Subzi Mandi, The Saint James church in Kashmiri Gate and after 1911,  the Sacred Heart Cathedral and the Cathedral Church of Redemption.

There are numerous old Jain temples, the Digambar Jain Mandir and the Swetambar mandir. The Baha’i have recently made one of the important landmarks of Delhi, the beautiful Lotus Temple in South Delhi. The Jewish faith is represented by the Judah Hyam Synagogue and there is a Parsi Dharamshala near Daryaganj.

All these in addition to the numerous Sufi Shrines that dot the landscape of Delhi, notably Qutubuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki and Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya's dargahs indicate the religious tolerance which existed in those times. 

Robinson is an alumnus of St. Stephen's college, Delhi, a Theologian, Meditation Practitioner and a Poet. He has an advanced certificate from Soon Bible Studies and papers on comparative religion. He is currently researching on the mystical and meditative aspects in various religious traditions. His book ‘Christianity; An Indian Theological Perspective’ awaits publication. He has a   published poetry collection. Reminiscences: The Poetry of Communion. Robinson also conducts walks on specific themes in Delhi like the old city Mehrauli, the Churches and Dargahs of Delhi.

Booking by advance registration and payment only up to 3 days prior to the tour. Rs 200 per head. Tel: Mina 23746050  


sat 27th february at India International Centre "Persistence/Resistance Film Festival"

SOUND OF TIBET; Awakening Kindness (80 mins)
A Documentary Film: (2010, 80 mins) World Premiere
Directed by Kim Joon-Nyeon, Narrated by Emi Hayakawa

This film is about the life story of a simple nomad boy born on the roof of the world, Tibet, at the most tragic juncture of its history. A wandering Tibetan yogi predicted the Chinese invasion and advised the family to flee Tibet. The family was able to escape into exile in India, the great land of Buddha and of Freedom.  

Nawang Khechog the nomad boy becomes a monk and hermit meditator under the guidance of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He later emerges as an international recording and touring musician and composer, while continuing to work for the Tibetan freedom struggle.  

Some of the main features in the film are the ceremony of the Dalai Lama receiving the Congressional Gold Medal at the US Capitol and the 50th anniversary of the Tibetan non-violent freedom struggle in Dharamsala, Richard Gere and Philip Glass speaking in depth about Nawang and his music, Nawang's duet performance with the leading Tibetan classical singer Chukie Tethong, Nawang's performance at the UN General Assembly and at Carnegie Hall, The Tibetan Freedom Concert at RFK Stadium and Nawang performing for ten Noble Peace Laureates at the tenth anniversary of the PeaceJam Foundation, where he also has been working for 12 years.  

One of the critical themes of the film is how Tibet and Tibetans have risen from the ashes with the help of India and many nations and peoples around the world. They have not only been able preserve their culture but keep their freedom struggle alive under the non violent and inspiring leadership of his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, now considered the Buddha and Gandhi of our time a and one of the most beloved and admired statesmen in the world today. 

Produced by BTN (Buddhist Television Network)