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"blending activism and filmmaking"




Ekta Unites the Community for Peace Through Artistic Expression

Leena Kamat
Sept 28, 2001

OAKLAND, CA- On the evening of September 15, 2001, while thousands of Americans were sulking in front of their television sets reminding themselves of the horror that has recently swept our country, a group of young Bay Area South Asians crowded together the cozy Grand Lake Neighborhood Center for a different purpose- to share their thoughts through art, music, poetry, and prose.

The Spoken Word event was the sixth of its kind organized by Ekta, a Bay Area organization formed in May of 2001 seeking to bridge the gap between various communities originating in South Asia through innovative programming, community mobilizing, and coalition-building. Although performances were not restricted to a political theme, most pieces shared a common message in light of the recent tragic events: that violence and hatred can only be solved through community-building and international social justice, and never through more violence and hatred. Various signs were hung up expressing this same sentiment, including "An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind" by Gandhi and "We've got to let LOVE rule" by Lenny Kravitz.

The evening, hosted by Anjali Kamat and Mona Shah, opened with the crowd observing a moment of silence for the victims of the violence on September 11 and well as the victims of violence all throughout the world, all throughout history. The evening continued with various performances, including a song on guitar composed and sung by Chhottu Rahman, a dramatic monologue about cultural identity by Asha Mehta, various satire pieces on cultural exploitation and other themes by Pratap Chatterji, a discussion of ASATA's organizing efforts by Shaily Matani, a hip hop piece by Vivek Maru, and poetry and prose by Anjali Kamat, Mini Kahlon, Minal Hajratwala, and Anita Vasa.

The evening closed with a clear ambiance of love and solidarity among all present in the room. The organizers hope that the sentiment will carry over into constructive dialogue with family and friends, as well as activism within the larger community.

Copyright. EKTA. All Rights Reserved. 2000-2002