February is the month which many people look forward to various reasons – valentines day, fight between pink chaddis vs love brigade, shortest month etc. I too look forward to it for couple of reasons…one, it has my better half’s Birthday..for second, read on for more..
Many of you might have heard or had been to Vasantahabba, which used to happen on the first saturday of February at Nrityagram. Vasantahabba is a festival that happens from dusk to dawn, yes you read it right! Starts from late afternoon and goes on till the sunrise of the next day…far off from the city, amidst the lush greenery of Hesaraghatta. Nrityagram is a residential dance gurukul started by Late Protima Gauri Bedi. The word Hesara ghatta in Kannada literally means Green place. You will have to visit the place to believe it…and btw VasantaHabba in Kannada means Spring Festival 🙂
It was amazing to see hordes of people came in blazing february sun to be seated on the lawns for an event that started after the dusk! One had to travel on the Tumkur road and take a right turn at the 8th mile, and continue on that road…I don’t know if the same landmarks still exist with the pace Bengaluru is growing. I remember there was a railway crossing, Army area and many villages. For Nrityagram’s own handwritten route map, check this out
The last event happened in 2004. Some of the performances that’s still fresh in my memory has to be Kadri Gopalanathan playing Saxophone during the midnight, Antaragni (Raghu Dixit’s band before it got disbanded and he formed TheRaghuDixitProject) which followed later, Belliappa’s Dollu Kunitha and Bhuta Singh’s Bhangra were during the late evenings! Imagine listening to fusion of music nightlong amidst the stars, open space and the energetic crowd…
But my most unforgettable memory of Vasantahabba 2004, has to be that of listening to Indian Ocean, especially the song Bhor. That Moment: Stars were fading, Sun still rising, chirping of birds, dewdrops on the grass blades, fresh air, smell of the red soil and voice of Aseem! It was a perfect natural ambience!
Indian Ocean belted out Kandisa, Kya Maloom, Ma rewa …if my memory hasn’t faded. One note worth mentioning is just as Indian Ocean began to check acoustics they ran into this trouble where tuning was just not getting in line with the audio systems….Aseem was getting restless and so were the crowd….but once he started, it was sheer magic.
One of the other things I cannot forget about Vasantahabba is that the young crowd showed amazing maturity in terms of behaviour and respecting the rules despite being high on booze and grass.
Vasantahabbas’ one of the only events where the promotion of talent held centrestage and also provided a rare outing for the mortals like us to be in sync with music and the nature. Events of such magnitude where people come in the range of 30 to 40 thousand requires tremendous efforts and co-ordination and since Nrityagram does not charge entry fees, it has to rely a lot on sponsors and volunteers. When I once called up Nrityagram to see if the event would happen again, the answer was in negative…..
As I came back home the Sunday morning, I could still feel the smell and dust of the red sand on my blue jeans…..It was so fresh, Wish that spring returns again!