DO you know Brahmaputra River is older than the holy Ganga. In fact, it is even older than the Himalayas! Or that Brahmaputra finds mention in the ancient scripture Rigveda (as Lohitya) and that this river has embraced Buddhist civilisation, Hinduism and Islam with equal ease? If you don’t, then it is time you visited the India International Centre which is hosting the ArtEast Festival, with focus on the Brahmaputra.
The three-day festival, (March 14-16), curated by Kishalay Bhattacharjee is being organised by the National Foundation of India (NFI) and supported by the Sasakawa Peace Foundation. “In north India, we constantly talk about Ganga-Jamuni tehzeeb. Why don’t we ever talk about Ganga-Brahmaputra civilization which is an older civilization. Indic civilization is not Westwords, it is Eastwords. While Ganga and Yamuna are two sides of the same coin, it is Ganga and Brahmaputra that represent two different sides of India,” says Bhattacharjee, vice dean, Jindal School of Journalism and Communication, OP Jindal Global University.
He also informs the research has found that the original Bhatiyali songs were sung by Bengali Muslims, which means Muslims inhabited the banks of the Brahmaputra for ages. “It is one of the major rivers in Asia and the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra Gorge is recognised as the earth’s deepest chasm. For generations, explorers sought the coordinates of a hidden paradise that was prophesied in Tibetan scriptures to lie in the depths of the gorge, concealed by the fabled Falls of the Brahmaputra,” says Bhattacharjee.
This hidden paradise became an obsession that inspired imaginations across the planet and established enduring legends. “The waterfall remained an unresolved geographical mystery until November 1998 when Buddhist scholar Ian Baker reached the base of the falls in the depths of the Tsangpo–Brahmaputra Gorge. It is at here that Brahmaputra enters India (Siang in Arunachal Pradesh), it is the deepest point of earth. After Arunachal Pradesh, it passes through different states and is called by different names. The source of Brahmaputra like Ganga is Mansarovar. But sadly, in our country, there is so little understanding about this part,” he says.
Through ArtEast, the organizers are trying to build a better understanding among people about Brahmaputra.
“How do you imagine a river? Poets and artists have tried imagining river. Explorers have gone down the river. But we still imagine for land, not river,” he says. To make people understand this, there are art installations curated by Sumana Roy, photographic and artistic study on Brahmaputra by Bengaluru-based photographer Arti Kumar Rao, academic sessions on exploring and imagining the river and some rare footages of Bhupen Hazarika on the river. “We are diving into the source, history, explorations and imagination of Brahmaputra through art installations, video installations, poetry, dance, music and conversations,” he says.