25 May 2023  |   05:35am IST

Mhadei Amchi Mai’ blends community engagement with artistic interventions

Mhadei Amchi Mai’ blends community engagement with artistic interventions

The most unique and mammoth human chain demonstration which symbolised Goa’s collective passion and commitment towards the Mhadei River was the centrepiece of the recently concluded ‘Mhadei Amchi Mai’ festival. But while human chain drew the spotlight during the event, the festival itself, organised by the Earthivist Collective, the Goa Heritage Action Group and the Save Mhadei Save Goa Front represented a unique blend of civic demonstrations to voice solidarity towards the protection of the river with artistic interventions in the form of anthems, poems, songs, installations, theatre, dance, music and interactive performances and onsite art making.

Singer and songwriter Hema Sardesai’s song ‘Mhadei Amchi Mai’, set the tone for the festival, while Divesh Gadekar and his friends, rendered a soul thumping experience with traditional Indian musical instruments such as the dhol, tasha and shankh (conch). At Miramar beach, Dr Maryanne Lobo, co-founder of Plant Walks Goa, facilitated MandalasForMhadei, with found and natural objects from the beach, while Urban Sketchers Goa led by Darpan Athale , hosted SketchForMhadei, engaging citizens by raising awareness about the significance of the Mhadei river through sketching on the beach, as Lester’s brass band kept spirits high.

Young poets like 12-year-old Josian Rodrigues and nine-year-old Kyren Rodrigues, performed their poems titled ‘Mhadei, Our River Goddess’, as did notable poets, Pragya Bhagat and Salil Chaturvedi, whose words evoked the river’s importance, inspiring a deeper connection with nature. Well-loved cartoonist, Alexyz, shared verses from his 2008 book, ‘Goa…Goan…Goaing…Gone’, which seems to have found an echo in the current times again. A specially created street play entitled ‘Ripples of Resistance’ was staged, as 12 year old Shanaya Rebello performed her song, ‘Save the Earth’.

Hundreds of demonstrators stood hand-in-hand as Goa’s talented artist, Sagar Naik, showcased his skills through live painting on the shores of Miramar, using clay sourced from the river bank. NHOI Project/Bookworm organised a river draw event, which allowed individuals to express their connection to the river through art on a long community panel laid out on the beach. Artist Praveen Naik, at the same time, made an installation, ‘Save Mhadei’ with driftwood and flying blue and white flags, with a circular collage as its centrepiece, while artist, Manjunaath Naique created a long hand painted banner for the Human Chain to hold.

Multidisciplinary artists Pushpanjali Sharma and Gautam Nima mesmerised the crowd with their especially composed prayer anthem entitled ‘Oh Mai Mhadei’, inviting citizens to join in and become the river’s ‘Rakhondars’. Impana Kulkarni led three Bharatanatyam performances with her group of dancers, at the beach and in fishing boats near the Art Park, not just conveying the grace and fluidity of the river but also her current condition, mired as she is in pollution and plastic, the threats she faces and the conservation she needs.

Meanwhile along the Mandovi Promenade, notes of jazz filled the air behind the Panjim Gymkhana where a band of musicians of international repute specially came together for the festival, led by Italian musician, Matteo Fraboni. Their music transported listeners to another world. Displayed alongside was a stark work of art by Shekhar Sharma that said ‘Quit Playing Games with my Mai’.

Further down, near the Campal Promenade, That Book Store facilitated an activity where participants collaboratively created a blackout poetry piece using cut-up books and papers, allowing individuals to express their thoughts and feelings about the Mhadei River.

The Promenade was abuzz with artists, like Shilpa Nayudu and Mansi Trivedi who wore the art that they created especially for the festival, entitled ‘A drop of Water and a river of Memories’ and ‘Bleeding Tears’, respectively. Abhivyaktee, a theatre group, presented a theatrical ode to the mother Mhadei, in the Ovi structure, in interaction with the seven Mhadehei’che Rakhandar installed along the promenade. These works by interdisciplinary artist, Miriam Koshy, embody the various ecosystems that Mhadei nourishes in her journey from Source to Mouth. Later in the evening, to close the Festival, multidisciplinary artists Pushpanjali Sharma and Gautam Nima led an interactive performance of prayer, veneration, Celebration through Song, Movement and Dance, entitled Mai and Me.


Iddhar Udhar