Current & Upcoming Cultural Events

Portrait of King Babur of Kabul Visiting His Cousin Prince Badi’-uz-Zaman in Herat in 1506.

For the first time in several hundred years, part of Afghanistan's invaluable cultural heritage is again on display in its country of origin. Two large, unique exhibitions in Kabul and Herat highlight miniature paintings are from the 1400s to the 1600s that have been created or roamed in the famous 14th-century Herat School, and appear as enlarged photographs. The paintings were created in the cities of Herat and Kabul in Afghanistan and in Delhi, Agra, Lahore, Istanbul, Baghdad and Tabriz.
The Herat exhibition was opened at the end of 2017 in the city's historic citadel, originally believed to have been built by Alexander the Great in 330 before our timetable. The second exhibition opened in March in the Queen's pavilion in Babur's Garden (Bagh-e Babur) in Kabul. The exhibition has come through thanks to Professor Michael Berry, a leading authority in medieval Islamic art. He tracked reproductions of the miniatures at museums and private collections in Europe, Canada, USA, Turkey, Egypt and India, and then produced the high-resolution enlarged reproductions that are now displayed. The exhibitions were developed in collaboration with Boston University's American Institute of Afghanistan Studies (AIAS) supported by the US embassy in Kabul. The exhibition at the Herat Citadel became such a success that the US Embassy asked the authorities to let the exhibition remain as a permanent loan from the US state, which owns the exhibition. The French Embassy contributed financially to the exhibition in Kabul through the Institute de France and Afghanistan.
​Royal courts in fifteenth century Herat and sixteenth century Kabul once sponsored some of the most magnificent pictorial creations in Islamic art. Despite wars and destruction in Afghanistan, many of these miniatures survived, albeit outside the country in public and private collections around the world. After the paintings were taken out of what is now Afghanistan in the second half of the sixteenth century and entered royal collections in Mughal India, Safavid Iran and Ottoman Turkey, many were sold on to European and North American private and public collections in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Their enlarged reproductions were only brought together for the first time and put on public display in Afghanistan in 2017.“King Babur’s Kabul: Cradle of the Mughal Empire” displays a selection of high quality reproductions of some of the masterpieces of the Timurid and Mughal periods from the mid-16th century, one of Central Asia’s richest cultural eras.
Read more in a Swedish language blog by Börje Almqvist.

On Tuesday 24 April 2018, 13.00-15.00, the India and South Asia at Aarhus University programme (CISCA) successfully organised a Kathak Workshop with Kristina Dolinina, assistant lecturer of Hindi Language and Literature at the Center of Oriental Studies, Vilnius University, Lithuania. She is also professional Classical Indian dancer and founder of Natya Devi Dance Theatre, recently doing her PhD on Kathak Dance from Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre. 
Kathak is one of the classical dance styles currently recognized and practiced in India and beyond. The dance style has developed from performing traditions of northern central India. Mathematically complex and fast rhythmic compositions, virtuosic footwork and swirling pirruets, graceful movements and subtle elements of emotional transmission - all these are the characteristics of Kathak dance.

Afghanistan's National Institute of Music (ANIM) and Ahmad Sarmast, its visionary founder and director, along with American heavy metal band Metallica have won the prestigious 2018 Polar Music Prize. The award will be presented by King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden on June 14, 2018.
The award panel said the Afghan ensemble "revives Afghan music and shows you can transform lives through music."
The 2018 Polar Music Prize was awarded to ANIM and Sarmast “in recognition of how this inspirational organization has used the power of music to transform young people’s lives.” The prize is traditionally given to one person from the pop world and one from the classical or jazz genre. The winners have been invited to receive their awards, including a cash prize of 1 million kronor ($124,000 USD) each, on June 14 from members of the Swedish royal family in Stockholm.
In the 1990’s, Afghanistan’s rich musical heritage, which thrived for centuries, was abruptly halted by the civil war and from 1996 until 2001, music was forbidden and silenced throughout the country.  In 2008, Sarmast, the son of a famous conductor, returned to Kabul to establish ANIM. He founded ANIM in Kabul in 2010 in response to that country’s civil war destruction of centuries of rich musical tradition. In the 1980s the pop music and film industries were thriving in Afghanistan, with hundreds of ensembles and a national radio orchestra playing Western and Afghan musical instruments. Between 1996 and 2001, music was completely banned. Over the last eight years, ANIM has been providing a challenging and safe learning environment for all students regardless of gender, ethnicity, religious sect or socio-economic status. The institute has a special focus on the most disadvantaged children in Afghanistan, including orphans, street vendors and girls.

The NSAN Editor Lars Eklund stayed for a month in Kolkata, returning to Sweden on 8 February 2018. During this period he wrote a blog in Swedish language instead of updating the news site.
Among the activities were also a number of academic meetings and seminars, at Jadavpur University, Kolkata, Visva Bharati University in Shantiniketan, Rabindra Bharati University, Kolkata and Calcutta University, Kolkata.
Go for the blog.
Photo: Daniel Rycroft från India Dialogue, East Anglia University, UK, och Rajsekhar Basu, Head, Dept. of History, University of Calcutta, at a seminar in Kolkata, February 2018.

The opera Satyagraha by American composer Philip Glass, will again be staged in Stockholm in May 2018. It was staged in Sweden for the first time in 2016 at Folkoperan in a co-production with Cirkus Cirkör. Now, the huge success will be performed for the third time. Premiere on 18th May.
​The opera, composed in 1979, includes scenes from the young Mahatma Gandhi's life in South Africa. It was then he discovered Satyagraha, insistence on truth, which was to become the start of what we call civil disobedience. Gandhi went on to become one of the most famous people in the world within the non-violence movement. US composer Philip Glass has been one of the most influential music makers of the late 20th century. Although his music is sometimes labelled minimalist, it is powerful and suggestive, often with an almost hypnotic power.  Tilde Björfors, artistic director of Cirkus Cirkör, says: ”Philip Glass' opera is an experience of Gandhi. As such, I want to physically express this by leveraging the strength of circus and music together”. Read more...

On Saturday 25 November 2017, a great India related cultural event is organised in Uppsala. The programme is entitled "Från Fyris till Ganges" and is held at Slottsbiografen, Nedre Slottsgatan 6 from 14.00 till 21.00. it is supported by the Indian Embassy, Uppsala Kommun and Sensus. Follow the journey of the senses between Fyris and Ganges and get a glimpse of the nuances of the diverse Indian culture - in the middle of Uppsala!

Concert & Dance 14.00-17.00. (Konferencier: Maria Af Malmborg Linnman)

*Tagore melody: Axel Landahl (guitar), Johan Gråsjö (Tuba), Jonas Landahl (accordion), Leo Edberg (percussion) and Stian Grimstad (North Indian classical sitar)
*Speech by Indian ambassador Honourable Ms. Monika Kapil Mohta
*Tabladuo: Atharva Pandit and Shamik Sinha
*Jugalbandi: Arun Venkitaraman (South Indian classical violin), Stian Grimstad (North Indian classical sitar) and Suranjana Ghosh (Tabla)
* Indian classical Odissidance with Stina Bothén
* Pause (fika and snacks)
*World music group Teental: Bengt Jonasson (Bass), Jonas Landahl (Drums), Kalle L Mossige-Norheim (Keyboard/Harmonium), Magnus Kjellstrand (Saxophone), Soumen Roy Choudhry (Sarod) and Suranjana Ghosh (Tabla)

Pause 17.00-18:30

Film 18.30-21.00.
*”The inner circle” - winning short film by Biplab Sanyal
*“Taare Zameen Par” (2007) directed by Aamir Khan and Amole Gupte (Hindi, subtitles in english)
Entrance fees: Concert: 100 kr (stud 80 kr). Film: 50 kr (stud 40 kr). Music + film: 130 kr (stud 100 kr)
Fika & indian snacks served in Pause.   Artist and group presentations....

Baul Shilpi, a group of baul singers from Bangladesh who made a great success during their Sweden tour in 2003 and 2008, again visits Sweden in the end of November 2017. The group, calling themselves ”God’s scapegraces” (Guds vildhjärnor), consists of seven persons – four baul singers, two other musicians, plus the tour leader Sirajul Islam. They are as usual invited to Sweden by Dr. Christina Nygren, Dept. of Musicology and Theatre Studies, Stockholm University. On Sunday 12 November 2017, at 17.00, they will perform at Brokiga Bengalen Butik, Södermannagatan 50, Stockholm. More information about Baul Shilpi (in Swedish only).

Rani Nair along with Astad Deboo.

On 20 October 2017, the Swedish Arts Grants Committee (Konstnärsnämnden), a Swedish government agency supporting artists who work within the areas of visual art, design, music, dance, theatre and film, decided to award Rani Nair, talented Swedish dancer of Indian origin living in Lund, Sweden, SEK 1 m as a long-time (10 years) grant. Rani was one out of 144 professional artists awarded this type of grant, artists that have showcased artistic activities of high quality and have contributed to the development in their respective area of art. More information about the Arts Grants Committeee awards.
In recent years, Rani Nair has made a number of interesting dance projects together with renowned Indian dance maestro Astad Deboo, both in Sweden and India. It has included re-enacting Astad Deboo’s solo unrecorded works from the 1970s and 80s. They met in 2014, when Rani was introduced to him by the then Indian ambassador to Sweden. Read more in an article in Deccan Chronicle (April 2017).
Rani Nair first came into contact with Indian dance as a young child in the 1980s attending dance classes organised by Danish Bharata Natyam dancer Annemette Karpen and Bubu Munshi Eklund in Lund. It should also be mentioned that Rani is the daughter of well-known Lund University Professor Baboo Nair.

The Swedish-language journal SYDASIEN, founded in 1977 but since 2011 only available on the Net, now reappears as a print magazine on a trial basis - two magazines per year are planned and they will cover articles previously posted on the Net. The effort has been possible to realize through a collaboration with the Swedish South Asian Studies Network at Lund University (SASNET) and its director Andreas Johansson.
For 34 years - 1977-2010 - SYDASIEN played an important role to disseminate news and information on South Asia. With popularly written articles on politics, history, literature and culture in the eight countries that consist South Asia (Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) SYDASIEN was a unique feature in Scandinavia.
The magazine was launched in 1977 by a group of journalists, researchers and development assistance employees, among many others were Staffan Lindberg in Lund, Thomas Bibin in Gothenburg and Kalle Kjellman in Stockholm. Lars Eklund, now working with the Nordic South Asia Network (NSAN), was the editor in chief for 25 years, during the period 1982–2007. From 2008 till the closure in 2010, the magazine was then edited by John Senewiratne in Norrköping. However, in 2011 SYDASIEN resurfaced in a brand new shape, as a high-quality Internet based web magazine. It was launched by the current editor of the magazine,  Johanna Sommansson, holding an MA in Social Anthropology and a BA in Indology from Stockholm University. She is also the editor in chief for the new print edition. Go for the
A searchable catalogue with links to full-text scanned magazines from the entire SYDASIEN production from  1977 till 2007 has been published by Lars Eklund. It includes the full content of 31 years of publication, available as pdf-files. Go for the index.

The International Tagore Choir in Lund will perform with a programme on Indian/Bengali Nobel Laureate Rabindranath Tagore in the village church of Maglehem in eastern part of Skåne on Saturday 4 November 2017, at 19.00. The concert is organised by Maglehems kulturförening and the Degeberga-Everöds församling, and coincides with a major ”Hela Österlen lyser” event on the All Saints Day. As ususal, the choir is led by Bubu Munshi Eklund, and with your NSAN editor being a member of the choir. Jazz saxophonist Ed Epstein will be a guest artist in this concert. More information.
On 22 October, the choir also performed in Malmö in connection with a Kali puja event held there (see photo).


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