Indian Summer Festival, and a review of “100 Ways to Kneel and Kiss the Ground”

India has top-notch musicians, writers, artists, and thinkers, and a few of them are coming to Vancouver for the Indian Summer Festival, until July 12. Many locals are also involved. Some events are free, and almost all of the rest are reasonably priced. Pay attention to bundled options.

This event with Arundhati Roy, is typical of the programming you can expect:

On July 5, I heard Coleman Barks, an interpreter of Rumi and a poet in his own right. His sonorous voice revealed a southern drawl. And, in case you are wondering, a southern accent is perfect for reciting Rumi, a 13th-century Sufi mystic. So far as I can tell, every popular translation of Rumi tends to be rather loose. Barks himself does not speak or read Persian, but relies on the work of translators to make his own paraphrases.

Barks was accompanied by a diverse group of musicians who clearly could feel the sentiments of Rumi. I thought I saw an oud, but it turns out it was a barbat, a Persian precursor. There was also a sitar, a tombak, and vocals. Refer to the program for more details about the musicians.

Then, like magic, a Sufi dancer appeared. I saw him standing nearby before he went on stage, and suddenly he was moving on stage as the musicians played and Barks recited. He did not whirl at high speed, as I have seen in Turkey. He added yet another aspect to this complex, multi-layered performance. I kept on noting the Gothic arches of the church and the stained glass as this was happening.

A lovely evening, and I hope to hear more such performances.

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