The sixth edition of the Kathakar: International Storytellers Festival opened this Friday at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) in New Delhi, which is put together by the NGO, Nivesh, with national and international storytellers being part of it.

In its first two days, the event saw a series of storytelling sessions from morning to evening. The sessions in the mornings (9.00 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.) were for school children and evenings (5.00 p.m. to 8.30 p.m.) were for the general audiences. The festival also featured storytelling sessions from members of the audience and panel discussions.

The last day of the cultural event, 13 November, will have evening sessions from 5 p.m. onwards and informal discussion on what may work for your storytelling style with Naomi Imai and Katy. Ekatma — a session focused on the life and journey of Deendayal Upadhyay — is also lined up Sunday, as are separate sessions by Issun Samurai, Frankenstien, and Hikkyaku Hana-chan by Spice Arthur Kamishibai group. Qissebazi by Danish Husain and The Boy and His Horse by Katy Cawkwell will mark the end of the three-day festival.

Katy Cawkwell (UK).

While talking about the festival Shaguna Ghilote of Nivesh told Guardian 20, “We have been doing this in Delhi since 2011 and this is the first time we will be going to Mumbai and Bangalore and primarily that is because there has been a lot of demand for this, and people wanted us to travel and that is of course is a big thing for this festival. So this year what we have interesting is we have Qissebazi and is one aspect that we have been exploring is the informal style of storytelling that happens in India because nobody has yet done it as an art form. The other aspect concerns the Japanese storytellers because even that is on the revival and it is one of the few groups that is contemporising. Another highlight of the event is that we are doing a story on Deendayal Upadhyay. We wanted to reach out to the disabled. So we will be having about ten disabled kids who will be coming from the NGO. We are also reaching out to schools for the mentally challenged.”

The first day of the festival had evening sessions, with an open-mic speed storytelling event with amateur kids and adults moderated by Shaguna Gahilote. Stories from Turkey and Iraq, by Sarah Rundle, Kambha Ramayanam by Tholpavakoothu Sangam and Issun Samurai, and Tin Soldier, Star wars by Spice Arthur Kamishibai were also among the highlights of the event.

Giles Abott (UK).

Dr Mangalam, Director, Kaldarsana, IGNCA said, “We do it every year: we bring three storytellers from outside the country and three storytellers from India and that is what we have been doing for a while now. Every time we try and bring different people from different countries. So this is the first time we have got Japanese storyteller. So last year we have people from UK, Africa and then we have Indian story tellers. With Indian story tellers they are normally performances and they are not story tellers. They have puppet and other things like that and it’s different from other story tellers because it is the mix of both. We have both traditional story and modern story. So it is very different. They not only get to know the story but also a different form of storytelling in India.

“Earlier we had around 300 children attending, and now we have around 700. The schools are sending kids because they don’t get to see such events otherwise. This is all part of the old revival because you don’t get to hear stories at home anymore and parents and schools want to send their children to hear stories where they are being told.”


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