A three-day ‘Apni Basti Mela’ in the Capital’s Hazrat Nizamuddin Basti is being organised by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture in association with the Union Cultural Ministry starting this Thursday.

According to Ratish Nanda of Aga Khan Trust, it is time those living outside the basti experienced the rich cultural heritage of the place.

“Encouraging outsiders to participate in events such as this one is the key to integrate them with the locals. They need to understand and respect the 700-year-old living cultural heritage of the basti. We have put up posters in neighbouring colonies, sent 4,000 invitation cards, reached youngsters on Facebook and tried to popularise the event through word of mouth. Qawwali, craft demonstrations and theatre will showcase the heritage of the place. We want to demonstrate how culture can be used as a tool for development and to improve the quality of life of the residents.”

The second edition of the mela aims to forge a link between local participants and visitors, especially those living in other parts of Delhi. A series of interesting events including conservation and craft demonstrations by master craftsmen, music, theatre, Dastangoi performances, cuisine and cooking classes by master chefs have been lined up.

A heritage walk will be flagged off by Lieutenant-Governor Tejendra Khanna on Thursday. Led by the younger residents of the basti, the walk will be undertaken in its narrow, labyrinthine lanes. The idea is to transport participants to another era.

On Friday, the Niazi Brothers will perform sufiana kalaam in the forecourt of the grand 16 Century monument popularly known as Chausath Khambha. The famed duo of Danish Husain and Mahmood Farooqui will perform Dastangoi on Saturday, also at Chausath Khamba.

Activities are spread across the basti but most will be held in the recently landscaped park on Lala Lajpat Rai Marg. An interactive exhibit will display craft products by women of the basti, including sanjhi, traditional embroidery, Mughal glazed tiles, traditional perfumes and calligraphies will be put up in the park.

A cleanliness drive has also been planned in response to the community’s demands for cleaner streets. It is a major issue since the basti attracts millions of pilgrims from across the country as well as the Islamic world attracted to the Sufi teachings of Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya who espoused tolerance, love and pluralism.

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