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Matheran Green Festival

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India’s smallest hill station has just come alive with the country’s biggest nature-meets-art event, the Matheran Green Festival. The 18-day celebration, of which Platform is a part, embraces the creative spirit at its very source—the lap of nature. Pulsating with art and intellect in various forms, it is a non-commercial initiative for people to connect through art, music, nature and ideas. The lineup includes Mumbai-based band Daira, French music ensemble Amahoro, illustrator and designer Abhinav Kafare, film screenings by Leeches director Payal Sethi and Santosh Ram and much more.

Going close to nature has always been known to inspire creativity and compassion within people, and that is what the festival aims for as it hopes to accommodate almost 50,000 participants from across the world in this celebration of the human spirit.

Matheran Green Festival 2016 is a playground for ‘art, culture and life’ as its organisers, New Bombay Design put it. Interestingly, ever since its inception in 2015 last year, MGF has been identified as India’s most eco-friendly arts festival. Matheran, literally translated to ‘forest on the forehead’, is a pollution-free green hill station close to Pune and Mumbai on the Western Ghats, and also the only vehicle-free hill station in Asia. So pack your hiking shoes because this means you get to enjoy the forest camp site on foot or horseback! 

The fest attracts artists, musicians, film-makers, environmentalists and speakers from all over the world to come together in the Matheran forest and initiate dialogue and activity. With a great number and diversity of events to look out for; it has also been a month-long journey for those who have been participating in the ongoing events such as graffiti making, art installations, environmental photography and more. ‘The event has kick-started with the Graffiti Fest,’ says organiser Prachi Ujjwal, ‘with some of the most talented artists engaging in street art at the venue. We have a Global Environmental Photo fair from 13 May – 31 May, exhibiting some incredible photographs by environmental shutterbugs from around the world.’

One of the photo shows on the cards is by the Preview Collective. ‘Preview is an artists’ collective which aims at providing a platform to photographers and practitioners of visual arts. It aims to free art from the shackles of the gallery space and bring it into neighbourhoods, hangouts, streets and other public spaces. Preview plans to host sessions where artists will be given a platform to show and talk about their work. These sessions will be hosted in an informal setting to encourage a free exchange of ideas and opinions,’ says founder Firoz Merchant. 

Expect an exciting mix of the established and the modern; with Indian Folk-Sufi singer Mame Khan to Raneek Ganguly— a musician, singer and painter who will be painting the walls of the fest with his graffiti. Then, there’s Nilesh Kharade, a socially driven artist; Uttam Sathe, a painter and sculptor from Kolhapur, filmmaker D.Priyanka and the Studios Sound Garage

Wake up to soulful ragas and Kabeer’s dohas at the sunrise point. Attend art and craft workshops, paint a wall, create an art installation. Make friends. Write poetry. Watch a film screened under the open sky. Go stargazing into the night jungle safari. Matheran Green Festival promises to give its participants lots to do in a lush green cradle and understand what a truly sustainable creative-arts lifestyle feels like. Aside from the rich cultural lineup, the itinerary promises to give you experiences that a city cannot arrange for, with events such as uncrowded heritage walks, stargazing, nature trails and even a bio-waste composting workshop! 

Stay tuned as Platform features interesting artists and performers from the event all through this fortnight. You can also pick up the latest print edition of Platform at MGF. We’ll be there; will you?

Festival dates: 13th May - 31st May 2016 
For participation, schedule and more information, click here.

Text Rhea Dangwal

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