Allied Event, June 2–4: India’s first interfaith art and dialogue forum to be hosted in Mumbai

To be held at St. Andrew’s Centre for Philosophy and Performing Arts, the forum IN SYNC will celebrate India’s syncretic arts while also creating an opportunity for visitors to convene for respectful interfaith dialogue.

A unique peacebuilding event grounded in ancient arts will take place in Mumbai from June 2–4, 2023, at the St. Andrew’s Centre for Philosophy and Performing Arts (SAPP) in Bandra.

IN SYNC is set to be India’s first-ever forum for interfaith arts and dialogue, the purpose of which is not only to showcase many syncretic arts of India but also hold intentional and respectful interfaith dialogue around them.

Conceptualised and curated by interfaith scholar Urmi Chanda, this first-of-a-kind three-day event will highlight how, through hundreds of years of proximity, the many diverse communities of India have created beautiful fusions – common grounds that people can connect on and celebrate.

The event will feature a visual arts exhibition, interfaith dialogue sessions facilitated by a peacebuilding professional, dance performances, poetry and music recitals, panel discussions, and expert talks.

Performances include Kathak by Sanjukta Wagh, Whirling Mandala by Zia Nath; poetry recital and acoustic renditions by ‘Poets of Peace,’ Geet Sagar, Tripurari, Kiran Bhat and Sukanya Purkayastha.

Talks include ‘Many myths, one people: how syncretism and pluralism have shaped the Indian narrative’ by mythologist Utkarsh Patel; ‘Mary in a Saree – the Indo-Christian art of Angelo Da Fonseca’ by sociologist Dr Omkar Bhatkar; and ‘Chants of Harmony’ by Leslie Nazareth, Mayuree Pandit Melody Dsouza, and Romana Shaikh.

Facilitators Rhea Dsouza and Rukmini Iyer will lead sessions on interfaith dialogue.  

A journalist, culturalist, and interfaith researcher, Urmi Chanda has been writing about Indian art, literature, and culture for years. Through this forum, she hopes to create a paradigm of social cohesion by employing the healing potential of art and dialogue.

“Art is expansive, accommodating, and more forgiving than theology. I believe the way to beautiful and successful interfaith dialogue between the Hindu and other minority faith communities will be possible through this route of syncretic art,” she says.

A doctoral candidate of the interfaith studies program at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, Chanda has spent the last four years formulating this unique model of interfaith engagement suited to the Indian context. She hopes the IN SYNC model will be replicated in various parts of India and beyond, wherever there a are diverse societies and interfaith conflict.

Celebrated historian, author, and a vocal advocate of the Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb, Rana Safvi, who is an enthusiastic supporter of this forum, says, “Art and literature have always provided a space for expression of emotions, struggles of the people, and lived experience. The medieval and early modern era is full of such examples, which showcase the syncretism of that age. Creating a space which encourages interfaith dialogue through the medium of art is a brilliant concept. This will long way in diminishing differences and divisions.”

Carnatic vocalist, author, and activist TM Krishna also shares in IN SYNC’s vision. He says, “Art can change us. But for that to happen, we need to work in art with the intention of becoming more compassionate human beings. I strongly believe that we need many intimate conversations that allow us to transcend our own limitations and embrace various ways of believing and living.”

Dates: June 2–4, 2023

Timing: 10am – 9pm on all days

Venue: St. Andrew’s Centre for Philosophy and Performing Arts (SAPP), Bandra, Mumbai

Entry: Free entry but registration is mandatory

Complete program brochure here.

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