The city became a hot topic of conversations after the UNESCO declared Ahmedabad as India’s foremost World Heritage City on July 8, 2017. The cultural and heritage aspects of the city gained prominence after the announcement. Whether it’s conserving the ASI sites or reserving the intangible assets of the city, the labeling of Heritage City assisted authorities as well as civilians to become more empathetic towards their tradition. The celebration of World Heritage Week (Nov 19 – Nov 25) in Ahmedabad is a prominent example of how the cultural entrepreneurs have buckled up to help civilians realise the importance of the heirloom legacy. We took an opportunity on this auspicious heritage instance to talk with few of Ahmedabad’s culture & heritage reformers on how they are celebrating the World Heritage Week.
Pavani Bakeri Agarwal is an independent entrepreneur heading a real estate firm in the city and currently the chairperson at the Ahmedabad chapter of FICCI Ladies Organization. She has decided to do her bit for the citizens of Ahmedabad by organising an event in the performing arts domain. “This heritage week I wanted the citizens of Ahmedabad to glance traditions, folk arts and heritage through the vision of multiculturalism. The FLO International Dance Festival on November 19 and 20 has brought 120 dancers from 5 different nations including various states of India for performance. Our clarion parade on the first day of Heritage Week will be a unifier for Ahmedabadi citizens to exchange ideas as well as traditions through the medium of music.” says Agarwal who also happens to be a philanthropist serving the society through Bakeri Medical Aid.
Lensman Narendra Otia, an Ahmedabad based photographer who is willing to give the city a global visual approach has been organising heritage photography exhibition since 2011 in respect to the celebratory week. Unlike 2016, when Otia had showcased photographs of various mosques of the heritage city or 2015 when he came up with photographs shot through the windows of local buses, this year Otia has covered the major heritage temples of the walled city and is exhibiting the same at the Ravishankar Raval Kala Bhavan from November 18 to November 21, 2017. For him inheritance isn’t restricted to the bricks and mortars, “We carry out cleanliness awareness drives explaining people the importance of cleaning the neighbourhood neatly with the help of Atulya Varso magazine team. My colleagues and I want to give a message to Amdavadis that cleanliness will help increase tourism, which will eventually help them in incurring remuneration from the old legacy of Ahmedabad.”
Sshweta Rajeswari, another city based lens-woman, is in love with the walled city of Ahmedabad. She has organised Walled Sagas of Ahmedabad, a photography exhibition at Studi Craftature studio showcasing 24 pictures that narrate the milieu of locals around the heritage sites like Teen Darwaza, Lal Darwaja, Pol Housing, Rani Sipri’s Mosque, and various other monuments. When we asked her about the experience she declared, “I have been involved in street photography since long, and it makes me feel sad when people don’t possess a vision to take initiatives and bank on the opportunities that the picturesque heritage sites possess. It is not just the government’s responsibility to be empathetic towards the tangible heritage, right?” We couldn’t agree with her more.
The most opportune heritage entrepreneur that we came across during the conversation was photographer Ashish Mehta, who runs a photography group called ‘Meet Me At Khadia’. The man organises more than ten types of walks in the old Ahmedabad city taking the cultural connoisseurs to, Haveli Food Walk, Heritage Food Walk, Photo Walk and Meet our Ahmedabad Walk especially designed for children. Mehta takes people to different traditional pockets of Ahmedabad on festive seasons such as Navratri and Rath Yatra and delivers them an original experience. In the most humble voice, Mehta shared with us, “Heritage will not be inherited by people until it becomes a part of people’s lifestyle. To connect the young generation, we have to make history a little more experientially enriching. After Ahmedabad now I have composed heritage walks for Siddhpur, Junagadh, Champaner, and Vadodara.”
Stencilling many minarets of Ahmedabad from seven consecutive years with Hindustani Classical Music and luminous lights during the World Heritage Week, Crraft of Art has come up with one of Ahmedabad’s biggest music concert this year again. Sufi Festival and Water Festival are not only focusing on portraying local monuments beautifully, but they also amalgamate the aesthetics of original classic Indian musicians with modern instrumentalists live under historic domes. Founder of the festival, Birwa Qureshi is striving to connect the youth of the city with the rich inheritance. “UNESCO has recognised us with the prestigious title but make sure we aren’t too late in preserving, cherishing and valuing our local legacy.” shares Birwa who has stationed the Water Festival at the Adalaj Ni Vav and Sufi Festival at the Khan Masjid, Dholka this year.
The Heritage Week is a fantastic opportunity for citizens of Ahmedabad to come forward and connect with the tangible and non-tangible heritage of the city, and experience the true beauty of what the city is.
Stay tuned with us for more culture and heritage related news.
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