The sixth edition of World Flute Festival in Delhi presented by Raas Rang, brought together artistes from Japan, Belarus and Pakistan. A group of underprivileged children also shared the stage. The Goodwill Project spoke to Arun Budhiraja, the man behind Raas Rang and founder of the Krishna Prerna Charitable Trust.
What is the Krishna Prerna Charitable Trust and what prompted you to form it?
The Krishna Prerna Charitable Trust is a non-governmental organization, which was established in 2006 in Delhi. It works in the area of art and culture. The NGO works towards the promotion of sustainable development. The inspiration behind forming Krishna Prerna Charitable Trust was to conserve and restore heritage buildings; build eco-friendly resorts, spas and other tourism infrastructure to showcase Indian culture; promote travel and tourism and encourage local rural community participation as a means to distribute wealth and generate local employment opportunity. Our key activities include the Holi Utsav, World Flute Festival, Widow Welfare programs, skill enhancement programs and spiritual retreats.
Tell us about the World Flute festival and how it came into being.
This edition aims to bring the flute into the mainstream, as an instrument which can be used as therapy for the body, mind and soul. The flute can draw us towards divinity. The sixth edition of the World Flute Festival brings languishing wind instruments back to mainstream. We will also introduce niche Indian musicians on a global stage, getting them to jam with international teams. Often, these languishing musicians do part-duty at temples or at ceremonial events to chase their passion for music, but are forced to take on jobs as guards and plumbers to make ends meet. The World Flute Festival provides a platform to fulfill their dreams and create a space for them in the world of music. We want to give the world a new sound vocabulary. We will include sessions titled ROOTS, SAANS and Bansiyog, which will prove flute not just to be an instrument but a therapeutic practice that can strengthen respiratory and cardiopulmonary functions.
Audiences know the flute as an instrument. But they have never known it as a therapy which has been used in modern science. A flute has the power of kindness and the power of peace. Indian youngsters are also influenced by Western music and equipment. Pollution and stress are the big threats to our health, and the answers to these are Yoga and the flute. We want to introduce flute as therapy, to revive the magic of flute and to rebuild its lost appeal. The flute is one of the oldest musical instruments found in our culture.
The festival started in 2010 as a two-day event, which was celebrated with 10 artists and 200 people. Today, it has grown to 48 artists. The festival has now a five-day event, covering five other Indian cities—Dehradun, Jaipur, Lucknow, Jodhpur and Indore. Next year, it will travel to seven cities outside Delhi. Earlier, we had one overseas country and today we have six overseas companies participating in the festival.
Why did you pick the flute as the focus of the festival? Do you also play the flute and any musical instruments?
Among the four most important products of India are firstly, the Vedas, which give you all the learning you require. The rest can be classified as Bhog, Yog and flute. Bhog gives you all the good ways of eating. Flute is the only musical instrument that aids in the balance of mind which is central to one’s well-being. It captures breath and rhythm and is hence the melodious music of the soul. It tugs our heartstrings and draws us towards the entity which cannot be captured by time or space. And, yes, I play flute and none other instrument.
I have grown up with the belief that ancient wisdom has answers to solve every problem including all health problems. Having worked in the corporate world for 25 years, I realize the challenges in society are far more attractive than the comfortable corporate world. Intensive travel, observing cultures of the world and the human connect were my only passion. Also, my remaining life is dedicated to my latest endeavor Ayushman India (an upcoming project to teach meditation and yoga, aiding de-addiction of drug and alcohol addicts).
Lord Krishna is someone I have never met, but love the most. The simplicity and yet the immense effectiveness, the degree of friendship and love that he showcases attracts me to him. I don’t pray to him but I live him.
Tell us a little about your Holi festivals.
Krishnaprerna’s Raasrang Holi Utsav has over the years, endeavoured to recreate traditional forms of holi celebration from different parts of India and encourage audience participation. From “Banaras ki holi” and “Marwar ki holi” in the past to “Barsane ki Lathmaar holi”, “Phoolon ki holi”, “Khari and Baithi holi” from Uttrakhand. Krishnaprerna continues its effort to showcase and keep alive these and other traditional modes of celebration and festivity.
We are the pioneers in bringing forth the true meaning and form of Holi. The word “ho-li” means what has happened has happened and one should now look ahead. The fact that this extremely important message is put across in such a playful manner attracts me and I have, therefore, been orgazinzing the RasRang Holi Mohatsav for the last 10 years.
Can you give us your favourite recipe from your book on temple recipes?
Chena Poda; I can challenge there isn’t a better cheesecake in the world than this dish served to Lord Jagananth. Please do try making it at home.
Make Chhena Poda, the Indian cheesecake