The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival entered its 12th edition with its characteristic festive fervour. Early risers flocked to grab seats at the Front Lawn and catch their favourite speakers and musicians do what they do best: create great art. Having braved the chilly Jaipur morning, they were welcomed by the melodious voice of ShruthiVishwanath.
The Pune-based musician, composer and educator has a background in the Carnatic and Hindustani traditions of music. Accompanied by musicians YujiNakagawa on the sarangi and ShruteendraKatagadeon the tabla, Vishwanath had the attention of the audience with her very first note. She opened ZEEJLF’s Morning Music with a musical rendition of the words of 17th century spiritual poet Tukaram. She later translated the lyrics:
‘Words are the only jewels I possess
Words are the only clothes that I wear
Words are the only food that sustains my life
Words are the only wealth I distribute among people
Says Tuka witness the word He is God
I worship him with my words.’
What could be a more fitting song to mark the start of the ZEEJLF? Vishwanath continued to sing songs and devotional poetry in four languages, ranging from Brajbhasha to Tamil and Marathi to Bangla. Exploring the intersection of folk and classical, she left the listeners mesmerised with recitals of the works of Kabir and other mystic poets. To mark the end of a stellar performance, she sang the famous Hindu bhajan (devotional song) Vaishnava Jana To. With that warm treat, the stage was set for the keynote address of the world’s biggest literature festival.