The Theme I BGB 2018


Migration is as old as time itself. From the early stages of Neanderthals to the Homo sapiens, migration for betterment has been a part of our genetic makeup. Migration can have many definitions but in context of Bodhgaya, it can be stated as a physical as well as metaphysical transition of an individual or group from one society to another. This transition usually involves the abandoning of one’s social setting and entering onto another.

A lot has been said about migration and its socio-economic-political-environmental impact. But people rarely perceive about impact of migration on religion. The influence of migration on faith, practises, community formation and how it changes a religious landscape is still in the background when compared to its other stimuli.

Bodhgaya, or as the ancient ones called it, “Uruvela” is a place that is shaped by migration. Siddhartha, born in Lumbini (Nepal) meandered in search of truth, enlightenment and himself. Buddha made the place we know as Bodhgaya. He changed the very aspect of an obscure little place, making it, into one of the oldest pilgrimage sites in the world. The saying “people make places”, is specific in the case of Buddha and Bodhgaya.

In the course of migration Prince Siddharth at Bodhgaya relinquished his former self and become Buddha, The Enlightened One. But this is rare. Generally in migration people loose their true self and identity and then long for their former self. Roti, Kapra and Makan are the driving force of migration. Leaving behind loved ones, leaving behind the smells and sounds that remind oneself of the core. Displacement.

We at the Second Edition of Bodhgaya Biennale look forward to explore the word and world of Migration as our theme and what it means to different people. Whether migration is forced or self-inflicted, or caused by war, famine, environmental degradation, political persecution etc.

Whether it fulfils the purpose of upgradation, new life or destroys old ones. What happens to people who are left in the wake of migration, whether it is voluntary or forced? What are the outcomes of this movement? Does the soul forget who we are or does it longs to go back and look for answers in the past. Nonetheless migration might be an economic phenomenon, the impact it has reverberates on all levels of oneself. The “Push-Pull” factor of migration is also applicable between the mind and heart of the migrating person.

These are the questions that exercise our minds, especially in these tough times.

The Bodhgaya Biennale Report 2018

The site was the same, the buildings where the same, the team too was the same. The difference- it was the year 2018, month December and most importantly, second edition of the Bodhgaya Biennale. It is said, that anything that you do for the first time gets imprinted in your memory. Keeping this in perspective, the team had every detail pertaining to the first edition stuck to their brains. Thus, preparing for the second edition was a bit easier and smooth. We had the same task of converting the grounds and the buildings of Sujata Vihar Complex into our gallery and installation space. Problems were expected and encountered, but solved with greater ease this time.

Bodhgaya Biennale, 2018, was held on the same dates as it was in the year 2016; from 16th December, 2018 till 23rd December, 2018. The theme of the 2nd edition was ‘Migration’. A topic that is being discussed all over the world. Whether it is enforced, voluntary, impelled or even reverse migration.

The opening of the Biennale, on the 16th of December, 2018, was by the chairman of the Bodhgaya Biennale Organizing Committee, Mr. Chanchal Kumar, along with Mr. Balan Nambiar as the Guest of Honour. The presence of Gaya D.M., Mr.Abhishek Singh, Prof. Ramvachan Roy, artists of the caliber of Shyam Sharma, Aarti Zaveri, Shubra and Anup Chand, Vimalanand Roy graced the opening ceremony. The ceremony was headed by the Curator and Director of Bodhgaya Biennale, Mr. Vinay Kumar.

17th of December, 2018- On the second day of the Biennale Prof. Ramvachan Roy, was the first guest speaker for “ART TALK”. He spoke on the topic of “Diaspora Hindi Literature and Depiction of Culture”. He started the session by recalling about his visit to Mauritius and went on to discuss the migration of Biharis and people from Uttar Pradesh, South India, Maharashtra and other such states. He mentioned about the Girmitya agreement and then differentiated between the temporary shift along with the permanent migration. Prof. Roy stated that migration has a deep rooted grief with the people who face it. And that it doesn’t matter how many generations pass, one doesn’t forget their roots. The evening session started with film screening in the Bodhgaya Biennales film section called “Bioscope” where a short film was shown titled ‘Nainsukh”. After which the audience interacted with its filmmaker; Mr Vinay Sharma.

An addition that happened in this edition was the convening of cultural programs every evening at the Bodhgaya Biennale. Mrs. Nitu Kumari Nutan, was the first performer to convene this segment of the Biennale. She is a known singer, with an accomplished range of classical, semi classical and Bhojpuri Folk songs.

18th of December, 2018 – day 3 was gloomy to begin with, as rains fell, so did the unexpected news of the death of the artist Mr. Tusshaar Joe. But as life and time never stays still, onwards we went.

Mr. Vinay Sharma opened his installation “The Paperman”. According to him we are hardly reading and writing. Books are no more our best friends. Technology and electronic gadgets have taken over our lives. But it’s important to understand how important this culture of reading and writing was. We have lost many a languages and writing styles. Even the humble typewriter has become a museum piece. He requested everyone, that it is high time we should save the reading and writing culture of ours. To revive the lost art of writing. Because once we lose the art of writing and all that what comes with it, the next step will be the decay of the civilization. As no one will remain to document and preserve the culture, values and ethos of our ways of life. In the film screening, a Film titled "PATNA KALAM", was screened. The documentary is on the Indo-British painting style that was developed in the city of Patna. The Documentary was directed by Raviraj Patel.

On the cultural show front, famous folk and classical singer Mr. Amar Anand mesmerised and kept the listeners spell bound till the very end. 19th December, 2018 - Biennale's fourth day started with clear blue sky and chilly winds and lots of sunshine. Mr. Vinay Sharma, who set up the installation “Paperman” went down on the streets of Bodhgaya including The Mahabodhi Temple and nearby places dressed as Paperman and shared his concern about his concept behind his performance. He engaged with the people who passed him by or interacted with him. His aim, through his performance was to encourage people to preserve their culture with special reference to the art of calligraphy.

“Art Talk” saw Mr. Samit Das, an artist and a writer, who spoke on the topic of Aesthetics and Literature. Mr. Das showcased though a presentation about how literature and aesthetic goes hand in hand.

Another performance that took place along with an installation was of Mr.Umesh Kumar Sharma. The installation was of a skeleton of a house, where Mr Sharma lives a day as an old man whose family has migrated and who is left alone to live in the house. A daily routine of a lonely man is seen, starting with waking up and doing the households, to handing out cups of tea to the viewers to engage in conversation to kill his loneliness and to connect with an another human.

In Bioscope, "PUNARJANAM", Rebirth a film by Mr. Amar Jyoti Jha and Vikash Bachchan was screened.

On the cultural front Mrs. Sudeepa Ghosh, a trained Bhartnatyam dancer who is acclaimed for her performances, showcased her talent along with her troops.

20th December,2018- a day of rest, much needed rest for the team. No talks or any other activities were planned for the day. Just a film Mind & Canvas by Caesar Das was shown and the children of the Gaya Branch of Kilkari Bal Bhawan performed in the evening. Kilkari’s students set the stage on fire with their fusion and semi classical dance performance; energising the team and setting the mood for the rest of the remaining few days.

21st December,2018- as the countdown to the closing day began, we saw a performance of Bipin Kumar on “Migration and Coming Back to Roots”. The “Art Talk” was by Ms Priyanka Tripathy and a “Bioscope” show of “The Man Who Moved the Mountain” by Kundan Ranjan. 22nd December,2018- Jainendra Dost spoke on the topic “Kavita aur Kala Ka Sambhandh”. The film that was screened was “Nach Bhikari Nach” 23rd December,2018- On the closing day of the second edition of the Biennale, the “ART TALK” saw Mr. Rajesh Vyas as the speaker on “Poetry and Contemporary Arts”

For the closing ceremony the guest of honour was eminent artist, Seema Kohli. On the dais, were present Sri Mithilesh Mishra, Rajesh Vyas, Anandi Prasad Badal, Sudama Kumar of the Gaya Hotel Association, Sri Ashok Kumar Sinha. The Director of Bodhgaya Biennale, Mr.Vinay Kumar welcomed the guests and ushered everyone in. The audience were later enthralled by Mrs. Neelam Chaudhary, Famous Kathak dancer as the closing act of the Bodhgaya Biennale, 2018. Mr. Suman Srivastava closed the 2018 Bodhgaya Biennale with a thank you note to all the supporters and the team.

The other aspect that the Bodhgaya Biennale grew in was the installation side. A whole floor was dedicated to the installations and to the artists to set up their work. From Aarti Zaveri and her mesmerising art work called “Padaav” . Depicting the non stop movement of people who keep on moving from place to place in search of better things. Another installation that was a hit amongst the people was Mr. Ajay Pandey’s silk cloths and perfume installation. The bundles of silk cloth were kept in sandalwood cases, which gave them the unique fragrance. It depicted the sense of smell and its correlation with migration. Shubra Chand, made an installation of “tandoori rotis”. Her concept was that people migrate for “roti, kapda and makaan”. Other installations were of Manish Kumar of Gaya, showing the relation of people and fertile soil and how both lose their fertility when they move away from the roots that make them who they are. Some other installations were of senior artists Shayam Sharma, Mukesh Yadav, Pratik Bhattacharya, Sukanya.

All in all, the team that makes the Bodhgaya Biennale what it is, did above and beyond. And as always the Biennale would like express its gratitude to our supporters for being the wind beneath our wings and helping us soar to new heights.