Nepali Times Asian Paints
Creative activism

journalists, come together on Saturday for peace and democracy in Nepal.

Nepali writers, artists, activists and social commentators are getting together on Saturday 17 August from noon till 5PM at Basantapur Dabali in Kathmandu to do their bit to stop the senseless and numbing violence that dominates the news every day.

Eighteen arts-related organisations responding to diverse beliefs and representing a wide segment of Nepali artists, writers, musicians, photographers, thespians, poets, journalists, social commentators and art-enthusiasts will take part in five hours of creative expression in Bichalit Bartaman (The Disillusioned Present). They want to give an outlet to their voices and thoughts, and to share social and humanitarian concerns for peace and justice with the public.

This is not the first time that Nepali artists have risen up in a period of crisis. During the National Referendum of 1979, Nepali poets of various backgrounds campaigned for multiparty democracy by taking their poems directly to the people through Street Poem Revolution (Sadak Kabita Kranti). Similarly, during the 1990 People's Movement, writers of various political persuasions gathered at Sarswoti Sadan at Tri-Chandra College, their lips sealed with black ribbons to protest the absence of freedom of speech and lack of social justice.

The organisers believe that a similar expression of outrage is needed today, regardless of political beliefs. The event aims to promote creative, political, non-party activism that would build up solidarity among diverse Nepali writers and artists, give space to disparate concerns about Nepal and bring together fragmented individual efforts in one place to push for peace collectively.

Participating artists of all disciplines will freely express their own thoughts regarding ways to put these troubled times behind us. Asked why he is taking part, poet Durga Lal said, "This is going to be a soul-renewing exercise. Even if I cannot bring my poem, I would come to derive emotional sustenance from what other poets and writers have to say about what is going on in our society." Sarita Mishra, a tabla player, said that she hoped the event would let her create music to reflect the present and to spread the message of hope. Photographer Usha Titikchhu said she wanted to join hands with other artists to express concern through her pictures about the increasing lack of social justice. Artist Asmina Ranjit said that her installation work would be against violence and for peace in Nepal.

The artists and writers say that they don't believe that they can achieve peace and justice by merely making wishes or by engaging in activities in their isolated spheres, but that an essential condition for peace and justice is that members of civil society use non-violent public persuasion in their societies.

Bichalit Bartaman is their collective attempt to show that much damage has been done by violence, to call for an end to mayhem, and to build solidarity for a peaceful, democratic Nepal. (For further details, contact Khagendra Sangraula, Rajendra Maharjan and Ashutosh Tiwari of the organising committee at [email protected])

(Bichalit Bartaman will begin at Basantapur from with a photo exhibit at 1200 on Saturday 17 August followed by poetry sessions, street theatre, concerts and end at 5PM.)

(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)