Story by Debjani Chatterjee
As part of the Sheffield Hindu Samaj’s Heritage Project ‘Spinning a yarn: Weaving a story’, we celebrated Kabir Jayanti (‘Kabir’s birth anniversary’).
As cotton and its global connection is the focus of the project this year, it felt apt to mark the 640th birth anniversary of Kabir, a great weaver-poet-saint of Varanasi, whose life and legacy of inspirational songs and poems have made a major impact on Indian philosophy, interfaith dialogue and Hindi literature.
Kabir’s followers are called Kabir Panthis, but he is equally revered by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims in the Indian subcontinent and the Indian diaspora, including in Britain.
At the Aastha Over 50s Group, Shantabehn Ladva led us in yoga. This was followed by questions about Kabir and the Heritage Project as well as an informal workshop of therapeutic painting and colouring.
Bhavan Raja and others organised an interesting ‘Cotton and Kabir display’. Hindu Samaj children did a Pushpanjali dance and gave readings about the great weaver-saint. Parshotam Gupta, the Hindu Samaj Treasurer, presented the young people: Dev and Damini Jha, Samiksha Ramoothy and Ketki Vyas, with chocolates and a symbolic gift of spindles. I told stories from Kabir’s life.
Our resident priest, Pandit Ashwini Kumar, led us in chanting ‘Kabir ke dohe’ and also explained the deeper meanings of these popular couplets. English translations were also provided. Kabir’s beautiful bhajans (devotional songs) were sung to a rapt audience by Sunita Chugh, Ketki Vyas, Nisha Gupta, Vrinda and Sanjay Dhar,and Manisha Jha.