Lectures | Performances | Workshops & Films | Sand Mandala | Art Exhibition | Places of Worship   
     Morning Sessions
    Lectures & Seminars 10 am to 12.30 pm at Lecture Hall. IGNCA, Mansingh Road


Each day’s Discussion Panel will explore a different theme.

friday 5th march

Sacred Textiles

Certain fabrics, whether dyed, woven, printed or embellished acquire lasting cultural, religious or ceremonial value to individuals and communities and sometimes become the very fabric of their lives to be celebrated and venerated on ritual occasions. The epic imagery of Hindu Gods and symbols celebrated from India to Indonesia, the sacred textile banners of Japan, Aztec ritual capes, the burial cloths at Cahuachi in Peru, the sacred textiles in ancient Nubian temples and the intertwining of Spirit and action in Maori weaving indicate the universal value attached to textiles.

Such objects are never meant t be displayed in museums or presented in conference papers. They were meant to be used as in Armenian Church textiles in religious celebration as anointed and blessed objects glorifying God and as physical reminders of the devotion of a people who tenaciously maintained a national spirit and religious identity through the objects they produced, donated, and used in the celebration of their faith. (continued)


Jasleen Dhamija -Weaving: An act of Creation

Joanne Eicher  - The Sacred Use of Indian Textiles by the Kalabari of

Edric Ong - The Sun and the Moon - Mystic Iban Textiles of Malaysian

Michele Archambault -
The Power of Nature and Faith in the Patterns of
                               Thai Textiles

Monisha Ahmed - Sacred Textiles of Ladakh

Organized by Jasleen Dhamija



saturday 6th march    

Gender & Landscapes of the Sacred

After its deliberately non-religious foundation in the late eighteenth century, the United States in the nineteenth century became, in the words of historian Jon Butler, “a spiritual hothouse,” growing exotic forms of religion never before seen:  “the Mormons, the spiritualists…new religious groups that no one had ever heard of before, that had never existed anywhere else in western society than in the United States.”  This process of generation has continued, giving rise to new forms of and competing claims about the religious character of the United States.  So, for instance, there have long been struggles between and among different religious groups and secular organizations over the legality of religious display in public places despite the fact that such displays claim constitutive space in American visual culture; new immigrants have historically told of the isolation and pain of a spiritual crisis precipitated by displacement while achieving some of their most transcendent art and sense of belonging by expressing it; American mass culture is widely accused of trivialization and vulgarity but attracts an enormous, passionate, articulate, and perhaps even inspired, audience; and photography has been blamed for American “compassion fatigue” while, arguably, offering the culture’s chief vehicle for empathic response to the needs of “the other.”

This panel will explore each of these four aspects of American spiritual self-fashioning through examining uses of the objects around which debate appears:  publicly displayed religious monuments, symbols, poems, television shows, and photographs.  It will propose that contemporary ideas of the United States as a “sacred landscape” are materialized by the artful deployment of these everyday objects.  And as always in the everyday, gender not only organizes their production, but also defines their consumption.

Laura Wexler- The Photograph as Sacred Space

Sally Promey - Religion in Plain View: Public Aesthetics of American Belief

Kathryn Lofton - The Power of a Woman: Oprah Winfrey and Spiritual Capitalism in a Secular Age

Kathryn Myers - God Moves My Hand”, Religious/Visionary Art in the United States

Organized by Laura Wexler, Professor of American Studies, Yale University





sunday 7th march

Sacred Groves & Landscapes

Sacred Groves are groves of trees of great religious importance to a particular culture. They were important features in the mythological landscape and cult practice of many cultures, in ancient Greece – the oak grove of Dodona and the olive grove of Athens,  the famous ‘grove of Ariccia’, the site of the cult and temple of the Roman goddess Diana Nemorensis. Celtic Polytheism, Druid ritual sacrifices and the tree worshipping Germanic Paganism are other examples.

With the advent of Christianity these ‘pagan’ areas have disappeared in Europe. India is said to have about 14000 mapped groves, Japan has many attached to Shinto shrines, the Yoruba of Nigeria have restored a few and they remain as an important element in the cultural landscape of indigenous people of South and North America, Australia and Asia along with the sacred rivers, lakes and mountains that provide spiritual sustenance to traditional societies. (continued)


P.S Ramakrishnan - The concept of Sacred Groves and Landscapes: Ecological, Economic and Cultural Contexts

Ram Boojh - Conserving the Sacred Heritage of Humanity

Jay Griffiths - If Trees Could Speak

Karla Britton - Expressions of the Sacred in an Ancient Landscape: Modern Religious Architecture and the  American Southwest

Archana Godbole - Sacred Groves: Culture and Conservation, a new Approach


Organized by Prof. P.S Ramakrishnan, School of Environmental Sciences, JNU, New Delhi.


monday 8th march

Sacred Music

Music is a vital element of world religions. However, communication with the divine transcends religious practice and spiritual music can be appreciated equally in a secular context as well.

What transforms sound into sacred music? Are there specific acoustic dimensions that elevate sound to the realm of the sacred, or is the perception of sacredness rooted in a cultural and/or devotional context, critically dependent on the intent of the performer and the mindset of the listener?

The experience of the sacred via sound is the focus of this discussion panel. The speakers will share their insights and in-sounds, addressing what makes sound sacred, spiritual and mystical for them.



Punita Singh – What Makes Sound Sacred?

David Hykes – Harmonic Consciousness and the Music of the Spheres

Dhruv Sangari & Suboor Bakht (Ektara India) – Delhi’s Mystical Musical Traditions

Rama Vaidyanathan  - Sacred Moves: The Human Body As An Instrument


Organized by Punita Singh, Musicologist, linguist, psychoacoustician




tuesday 9th march
Ritual to invoke and evoke the sacred through performance

Spiritual consciousness can be invoked in many ways. Music- Bhajans, Kirtans, chants is one way. Travel -Visiting holy and sacred spaces is another. Performance - A very powerful way is the invocation of the sacred through performance. These performances are not audience oriented and therefore not strictly ‘performances’. Their power derives from the passion and religious devotion of the people who come to witness them. The practice of Kutiyattam, the performance of an ancient oral tradition of Sanskrit theatre from Kerala not only takes the action to unbelievable heights of imaginative fancy but reveals multiple layers of meaning embedded in the text. A single act of a play can last up to 40 days or more requiring knowledge, empathy and an active act of imagination and participation by the spectator. It was earlier restricted to Brahmins and higher castes and performed only in temples as sacred art.
The essence of this tradition is true in a Pan Indian context of a variety of forms in music, dance, theatre and temple ritual: The Raas Lila of Manipur, The Bhuta rituals of Tulunadu, the ‘Agamic rituals’ of the Brihadesvara temple (the structure and ritual of which can be considered as a choreographed performative act) as well as The Nandadevi Yatra and the rituals connected with forms such as Theyyam and Theriyattam in Kerala..
The main difference between what we may call a secular and one that seeks to invoke or evoke the sacred in performance is the complex process involving many rituals which activate the psychic and spiritual energy of those who participate in the function. Often highly elaborate and time consuming, these rituals are used to infuse the entire process with an aura of holiness where the actor ‘becomes’ the deity and the audience reaches a state of Sufi ‘wajd’ (trance) and the ritual, performance or yatra is imbued with divine energy.


Kapila Vatsyayan -

Prof. William S. Sax -

Dr. R. Nagaswamy -

Pepita Seth - SOS THEYYAM

Mojgan Jahanara -


Organized by Kapila Vatsyayan,Chairperson IIC Asia Project




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