Each year, the India International Centre (IIC) organizes “IIC Experience: A Festival Of The Arts", with a line-up of art exhibitions, film screenings, lectures, theatrical productions, dance dramas, musical concerts, and a food festival. Teteii Tochhawng, senior programme officer, IIC, says the festival doesn’t have a theme but a sub-theme often emerges from the line-up. The sub-theme for this year’s festival, which starts in the Capital today, is literature, she says.

“The exhibition, India’s Best Kept Secret: Sarasvati Mahal Library, Thanjavur, will showcase manuscripts; recipe books from this library were also used for designing the dinner menu for the festival; there is a Kathakali performance, Duryodhana Vadham, by Sadanam Balakrishnan which is based on the epic Mahabharat; and a theatre production by Yellowcat Theatre Co.—in association with the Instituto Cervantes—called Waiting For Quixote," says Tochhawng. While the dinner is for IIC members only, the rest of the programme is open to everyone.

What to expect: Pradeep Chakravarthy, author of Thanjavur: A Cultural History and curator of India’s Best Kept Secret, says: “The Thanjavur Maharaja Serfoji’s Sarasvati Mahal Library is special because it is one of the few medieval libraries in India."

Chakravarthy explains on the phone from Chennai that the library is important for three reasons.

First, the breadth of subjects. “There are books on medicine for people and medicine for animals, improving plant yield, religion, philosophy, astronomy, literature…," he says.

Second, the breadth of languages: The library has palm-leaf manuscripts in Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu, but there are also texts in Bengali, Kannada, French and English.

Third, says Chakravarthy, is “Modi bundles". Modi was Marathi shorthand developed at court for taking notes on everything from the expenditure on liquor in the palace, to land grants.

The show in New Delhi, which will have around 100 exhibits, will present photographs of pages from manuscripts like Gajashastra: an illustrated manual on how to capture, rear and care for elephants.

Chakravarthy has also selected some Modi bundles and three paintings—two in the Tanjore style, with gold work, and one in the Mysore style—for the show. He will also deliver an illustrated lecture, “Treasure Of Sarasvati Mahal Library".

Also see: Waiting For Quixote takes Miguel de Cervantes’ story of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, and grafts on to it the current context. “It is an idea-based piece," says director Sukhesh Arora, who is also one of the actors in the play.

The “IIC Experience: A Festival Of The Arts" will be held from 30 October-4 November at IIC, Max Mueller Marg. Timings vary. Passes for films available 30 minutes before screening. For the schedule, visit www.iicdelhi.nic.in

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