Bangalore Habba – India’s first city festival

Bagalore Habba struck Bangalore like a bolt from the blue!

Long awaited, much talked about, with Herculean over-a-year behind-the-scenes efforts having been made by Padmini Ravi, Nandini Alva and Kumar Iyengar (all from AFFA, the Artistes Foundation For the Arts) to make it happen, the Bangalore Habba materialized, as if out of thin air, all of a sudden.

The people of Bangalore woke up on 28 Nov to a surprise announcement: Come, Celebrate Bangalore proclaimed the newspapers, informing them about the week-long Bangalore Habba, from 7 to 14 December 2003 a celebration of arts and culture bringing together India’s greatest musicians, dancers, artists and theatre performers. A couple of days later, colorful hoardings and banners, and panels on buses and autorickshaws all over the city announced the cultural extravaganza the scale of which perhaps no city in India has seen before.

Eight days. About a dozen venues all over the city. Over 40 events. 450 folk artists, about 800 other participants, many of them top artists and performers in their fields.

Being an invitation to celebrate, entry to all the events was absolutely FREE!

Never before in the about 1200-year history of Bangalore in seven days have so many performed in so many venues for the benefit of anybody who felt like participating in the celebration of art and culture. Most of the auditoriums were full and the events at Palace Grounds attracted crowds of 15,000-plus every day.

A resounding success, Bangalore Habba is bound to rival the Singapore Arts Festival and the Edinburgh Festival and emerge as one of the world’s greatest city festivals.

Drishti’s Take

  • We appreciate the tireless efforts of Ajay Vishwanath to ensure the smooth conduct of the festival.
  • A fantastic effort by all concerned, organizing and conducting such a mammoth festival in such a short span of time.
  • Passes for all the events could have been made available at more outlets.
  • Lesser known artists and lesser known art forms could have been given better publicity.

” The Habba catered to people of different tastes from all walks of life. This should go on every year.”
Dr.L. Subramaniam, Violin maestro