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If you happen to be in New Delhi this weekend, head to the India Habitat Centre (IHC). A Delhi-based group, World Art, will usher in the Bengali New Year with the Bengal Art and Literary Festival.

Niloy Roy, a theatre artiste and the festival organizer, says that when the West Bengal tableau, which showcased Purulia chhau, won the best tableau award on Republic Day this year, he knew he had to bring the chhau artistes to New Delhi. The folk dance form will be showcased at the IHC on Saturday, the first day of the two-day festival.

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Raibneshe artistes

World Art, formed three years back, has been researching, and trying to promote, Bengali art forms—by going to different villages, meeting local artistes and providing them with a platform and an audience for their art. Ultimately, World Art hopes to be able to support these artistes financially. Take the case of the raibneshe, or traditional martial dance, artistes who will be performing at the festival on Sunday. “The Bagdi community that performs raibneshe wanted to start a school for teaching the form in Murshidabad, and we are trying to aid them financially by raising funds from friends and acquaintances, corporate houses and Bengal associations across the globe," says Roy.

Iconic painter Jamini Roy’s work, mainly patachitra paintings, will be a highlight of the show; experts who have studied his work will be at hand to explain the nuances. Photographer Sanjay Das will be showcasing a varied spectrum of life in Bengal in his Frames exhibition.

A Purulia ‘chhau’ performance
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A Purulia ‘chhau’ performance

Poets will explore the possibility of “a life within life" in their works on Day 1. There will be folk and fakiri songs by the group Saptosur on Saturday; and Nazrulgeeti, remembering the revolutionary bard Kazi Nazrul Islam, by Mahuya Bose on Sunday. The real crowd-puller is expected to be Parvathy Baul’s power-packed rendering of baul songs on Saturday. Baul promotes the folk style in Kerala, where she lives, and travels abroad every year to teach and perform.

There will be programmes for children too. On Saturday, Delhi-based cartoonist Udayshankar Gangopadhyay will hold a workshop, “The Positive Cartoon", to explain how cartoons communicate social messages (4-6pm). On Sunday, children can take part in a drawing competition (3-5pm), quiz competition (5-6pm) or a folk-dance workshop with chhau and raibneshe artistes (6-7pm).

The Bengal Art and Literary Festival will be held on 12-13 April, 6pm onwards, at the Amphitheatre, India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, New Delhi. On-the-spot registration for workshops. Click here or details, email, or call 09873838238/09811489109.

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