Spotlight on feminism and femininity

An upcoming festival aims to give women exclusive space to express themselves

BENGALURU: While aggressive campaigns have their purposes, Sandhya Mendonca, managing director, Raintree Media, feels that agitation mode is not a long-term solution for change. Instead, culture can be a more effective vehicle, which is one of the ideas behind Under The Raintree Women’s Cultural Festival, an all-women’s programme, to be held on November 2 and 3, at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur.  With the theme ‘Women empowering women’, Mendonca hopes that this festival will serve its purpose of using culture as a harmonious medium of creative expression and societal change. “It’s a festival of feminism and feminity wherein we are bringing together change makers, thought leaders, artists, scientists, corporate leaders, policy makers and influencers to interact, inspire and influence positive change. We have a line-up of over 150  people at various venues throughout the building, with a variety of programmes,” said Mendonca, the festival director at the curtain-raiser, held at Project Eve, Jayanagar, recently.

One of the questions asked was whether women need an exclusive space to create and express themselves. And the response was a clear ‘yes’. Attendees got a preview of the programmes in store, including a short performance by Metronome Station, a brand new all-women band that pairs a rap artiste with a classical vocalist, a bass guitarist with a ghatam player and a keyboardist, and a drummer. They will all be performing live for the first time at the festival.

(Clockwise from top) Manasi Prasad, Sandhya Mendonca, Sumana Chandrasekhar  Meghana Sastry
(Clockwise from top) Manasi Prasad, Sandhya Mendonca, Sumana Chandrasekhar  Meghana Sastry

In addition, Manasi Prasad, classical vocalist and Sumana Chandrasekhar, percussionist, rendered an Indian classical composition along with the poetry of Maya Angelou, played to the rhythm of the handpan. “Women need encouragement and such spaces to collaborate, and it is through such collaborations that spectacular art is born,” said renowned dancer Madhu Nataraj, who has curated the dance segment for the Festival.

The two-day festival includes art, stand-up comedy, award winning short films, dramatised readings, theatrical presentations, open mic, art interventions, books, stalls and more. There are also specific activities for children to allow parents free to attend the sessions. There are also workshops on Meditative Art by contemporary artist Shan Re. This edition has added two more verticals – Women in
Leadership and Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths). “Our festival is a registered partner of the United Nations, having aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 5 that seeks to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,” adds Mendonca.

Under The Raintree Women’s Cultural Festival will be held on November 2 and 3, at the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur. Entry to all events from 10 am to 6 pm (except workshops) is free.

Watch out for

 Dance
* Vilasini Natyam by Dr Anupama Kylash
* Mixed media choreography led by Madhu Nataraj: Centred around the female body, this is a meeting point of body kinetics, mythopoetic interpretations, addressing  women’s issues, advocacy
and agency through movement narratives

 Music
Metronome Station, a new sound by the all-women band in the headline. Music show by Manasi Prasad; vocalist, with Siri Narayan, rapper; Shalini Mohan, bass guitarist & vocalist; Padma Priya, keyboardist;  Sumana Chandrashekar, ghatam player and vocalist; Priya Andrew, drummer

 Key speakers
Dr Sonal Mansingh, dancer
Nicole Girard, Consul General for Canada in Bengaluru
Leadership: Latha Reddy, co-chair, Global Commission on the Stability of Cyberspace; Revathy Ashok, CEO, B.PAC; Geetha Panda, Novartis; Sandhya Mendonca, Raintree Media
Science Cafe: Dr Shannon Olsson, chemical ecologist, NCBS; Dr Srikala Raghavan, inStem

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