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Until next year, Matheran!

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As the curtains come down on Matheran Green Festival 2016, India’s first-of-its-kind art and nature festival, we round up the giant confluence of art, music and culture in the country’s smallest hill station. The focus of this year’s fest lay in green creativity and a huge public participation from across the country and beyond. ‘We’ve seen more than 5,000 visitors and hundreds of performers...we’re happy to see how it’s rolled out!’ says Prachi Gawand from the team of organisers.  

Embracing diversity like never before, the forests of Matheran in the Western Ghats lit up with gigs by slide guitarist Manish Pingle, tabla player Akshay Jadhav, MTV Coke Studio’s famed singer Mame Khan and his troupe with Rajasthani folk sufi, Amahoro Sound System, Daira and many more about whom you’ve been reading on the Platform webzine. The celebration continues till the end of the month as audiences swoon to soulful music one night and contemplate life along with inspirational speakers such as Harish Iyer and Chemudupati Samyukta on another. While Harish is a noted human rights activist, Samyukta is a campaign manager of wildlife at the Humane Society International. The festival also included film screenings by prominent independent filmmakers such as Santosh Ram and Payal Sethi, live street art by Nilesh Kharade and Rohit Soni, sculpture-making by artist Kishor Thakur, a papier-mâché workshop, a biodiversity awareness race, a global environmental photo exhibition, nature trails, heritage walks, star-gazing hours, bird watching programs, artist residencies, calligraphy, graffiti and more.

Most performers found home in the environs of the forest, amid birdsong and trees. ‘It was the first time in my life that I showed up for a performance on horseback—no cars allowed at Matheran Green Festival!’ says Jarrod Wood, a musician from New Zealand who came to India 11 years ago to learn flute from Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasiya. ‘It is the most surreal, inspiring and beautiful location, and I found a super receptive audience. What a wonderful experience...,’ says Jarrod. 

It has turned out an equally uplifting experience for visitors. ‘Everything’s natural here, the art, the music, the vibe, chilling under the stars...this is a beautiful initiative in sustainable creativity and everyone must see it for themselves,’ says a young enthusiast. 

This year, as was last, the festival is set to close untarnished by the garbage and littering that typically follows a festival as massive as this. India’s most eco-friendly arts festival and its participants went all out to ensure a pollution-free Matheran, so that come next summer and the forests are ready for yet another grand celebration of art, culture and life. 

Text: Rhea Dangwal

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