Saturday, 8 April 2017


MONOGOBBET SOCIETY is a group of conscious, logical fools who have come together to form a unique society in Santiniketan in 2006.The main motto of this society is to conduct series of meaningless GOBBET ADVENTURES in and around Santiniketan from time to time. Monogobbet society is an open ended society where anybody can come and join at any point and leave. In this respect the gobbets have declared 1st August as GOBBET DAY.


It started with the first community activity of one minute solo silent mono acting competition “IN SEARCH OF THE VOICE OF SANTINIKETAN” to find the ‘Santiniketan Idol’. The winner has to prove that he loves Santiniketan the most.It was a performance competition where the participants will have to perform in front of the camera which will be projected LIVE in the screen placed infront of the audience.So audience cannot see the performance physically .The audience were given three coloured paper fans (each colour having specific grading).According to the public voting the grading of each performance were evaluated. While the audience would grade the performance the audience reactions were also projected in a separate screen next to the performance projection screen. So both the audience and behind the screen performance were viewed together. There were three awards,’Golden Chhatim’, ‘Silver chhatim’ and ‘Only cchatim’( Chhatim or saptaparnior the Devil tree, the tree with seven leaves is the iconic tree of Santiniketan and during convocation only a chhatim leaves are given to the students in public ).


Second Gobbet day activity was around the gobbet expedition of the 80years of trees planted during Vriksharopan festival, the annual tree planting community activity initiated by Rabindranath Tagore in 1925 as part of the landscaping building and community building process. Visva Bharati News the monthly newsletter of Visva Bharati has published news of this activity regularly. A research was initiated to map the places where the trees were planted since 1925 through Visva Bharati News.Then placards were generated based on this news. Maps of Visva Bharati campus were printed with the information of the locations where trees were planted and installed in different strategic locations of the campus 2 -3 days before the expedition and posters were distributed to different departments and public spaces in Santiniketan for people to join in. So for three days students and community members of Santiniketan searched the 80 trees that has been enlisted in the Visva bharati newsletter since 1925.Environmentalist like Late Shayamali Khastagir and others joined in to locate these trees.


 The third Gobbet activity was more an intra Kala Bhavan activity where Gobbets invited the students to “CLEAN YOUR OWN RAGGS” a kind of an anti ragging activity where seniors and juniors joined together to clean each other. Different forms of cleaning devices were designed by the gobbets. A cleaning room was set up on Chatal the central stage in Kala Bhavana. The room had walls made of images of Joseph Beuys cleaning the dust in front of the parliament and also different meanings of rags and process of cleaning were mentioned. A display board was placed where students can enroll their names whoever wants clean them. So it was choice based cleaning. This was followed by a public interaction on ragging between the senior students and the juniors.


Mono gobbet society organised the gobbet garden “GARDEN IN YOUR HEAD”.Posters were issued in the campus to participate in the design development for the gobbet garden. Then on 1st august afternoon a workshop was initiated by the participants on gobbet head gardening. Participants transformed their heads into individual gardens by styling their hair in different garden plans with the help of plants and hair styling. Then they made a march to different parts of the campus and read excerpts from Tagore’s writings on landscape, nature and gardening.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Gobbet day activity 2007

Participation as an Insider
Participation as an insider is always quite tricky and vulnerable. In a community based art activity the visibility and the identity of the artist is extremely important. The position of artist becomes the initiation point of any activity; the position of the artist gets exposed on the level of personal relationship. So for me working in Santiniketan is equally from the position of a teacher and also as part of the community member who is equally involved in the private and public life of Santiniketan. So participation in an insider position is always a very slow process of patience and interaction. In a city position one can initiate a process an vanish but in a close community situation there is no escape, there is a constant visibility and responsibility to the site and the community life with which one is interacting.
participation as a INSIDER

How Art Thou Living-A community based Exploration of the 80 yrs of tree Planting (Brikhsharopan Festival ) in Santiniketan by Mono Gobbet Society,2007

Sanitiniketan today survives both as site with a cultural legacy and heritage and also in the formal way as a university campus. The overlap of these two states of existence make the place both vulnerable, at the same time structured. The annual ritualistic events like Briksharopan which started initially as the process of developing the landscape of the place and also to create an intimate relationship between its community and the environment, today also functions as a heritage event that projects the cultural framework of the process called Asram education but also an economic compulsion as many of the local people are economically dependent on these annual events which generate huge amount of tourist attraction. So Santiniketan constantly shuffles between an  academic zone and also a heritage zone that sustains the everyday livelihood of local residents living around Santiniketan. The landscape of Santiniketan today functions both as a memory of a ideology and also the administrative network of the present academic expansion. Today Santiniketan has become a more vulnerable site with its duality and dialectics and as such it is also becoming a new site for nurturing individual differences and co-existence. The present project evolved out of the need to map this duality of the site through an exploration, a visit to the sites where Briksharopan festival which is happening for the last 80 yrs and map the evolution and expansion of the landscape of Santiniketan both as a community space and also as an academic space.

Research and Observation
The process was initiated through the activity of Mono Gobbet Society.
Excerpts of the letter  issued by MonoGobbet society as an invitation in Santiniketan to the community.                                                   
  “MONOGOBBET SOCIETY is a group of conscious, logical fools who have come together to form a unique society in Santiniketan.The main motto of this society is to conduct series of meaningless GOBBET ADVENTURES in and around Santiniketan from time to time. In this respect the gobbets have declared 1st August as GOBBET DAY.                                                             
This is our 2nd year of operation. We are glad to inform you that on 1st August, 2007 MONOGOBBET SOCIETY will arrange a GoBBet Expedition in search of the Trees of Vriksharopan.

When Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore initiated the Vriksharopan Utsav as an activity in Santiniketan the land was barren with its Khoai and its few palm trees. More than 80 years have passed. Like its community new soils have been laid and numerous trees have been brought from outside and planted around the landscape. Like its community which comprises people from all over India and world trees from different parts of India and world have come and grown on this land. This expedition is to explore, how they have adapted to the Land, how they are surviving today.
In this occasion the society cordially invites you to join in the Expedition ‘How Art Thou Liveth?’
Exploring the sites where trees have been planted in Vriksharopan.”

So some of the members of the MonoGobbet Society ,initially students of Kala Bhavana which also included me, made a research on locating the places and the kind of trees that were planted in Santiniketan.The informations are available in the old Visva bharati Quarterly journals from Rabindra Bhavan ,which is the oldest community journal from Visva Bharati that documented its annual events. On basis of these information a map of Santiniketan was created demarking the possible sites of Brikhsharopan in the last 80 years. Two big Flex prints of this map were  installed around the campus referring 1st of August as the expedition date and requesting all the community members to join the expedition.
The members of the monogobbet society then prepared individual placards referring individuals sites of planting and also the names of the trees (where it is available).All the names of the trees were available from the research. On 1st of August, 2007, on a rainy day all the unofficial floating members of Monogobbet society assembled in front  of the Mandir Gate(the main entrance to the campus) and the expedition was officially started. Printed version of the map with names of the location and trees were distributed among the assembled people .Together with the students some of the faculty members also joined in.Shamalidi a noted environmentalist also joined in to share her memory of her father Sri Sudhir Khastagir, who planted one of the trees in 1950s.So the expedition started with Shamalidi’s memory. Then slowly we collectively started moving around the campus following the map. As we followed the map we visited sites and places where we have never ventured to travel earlier. So the location of the trees almost became a new route and way of looking at the site Santiniketan. Moreover it also provided us with opportunity to understand how the campuses have expanded and also how it has transformed. As we followed the map we realize because of the expansion of the campus and the increase of the number of the departments many of the roads have now been fenced to demarcate the campus of the individual departments.\, as such many of the site of Briksharopan have become inaccessible today. Moreover in many places the trees were not visible as some have died ,some uprooted due to storm and some vanished. So accordingly the explorers planted those individual placards with name and year of plantation and also referred the stated of the tree and wrote missing where they were not found. The whole process continued for almost three days and it generated lots of enthusiasm among the young participants as it became an opportunity for them to know the place and its extension and for those who have seen it everyday a new position to understand it on a new note.

So in this project my role as a pedagogue got transformed into a participant both as an explorer and also as an insider being part of the community of Santiniketan.This project provided me to relieve from the fixed position of a teacher to also a learner as my position was also equally vulnerable as the other participants in relation to the information of the trees and the history of the site.There were no experts only memories and apprehensions to operate with.

Sunday, 24 March 2013


Voice of Santiniketan:I love My Santiniketan the most
A Gobbet Day activity, 2006
1st August, 2006, Natyaghar ,Visva Bharati , Santiniketan
by Monogobbet Society Santniketan


A Gobbet Day art activity with the community in santiniketan,Natyaghar,2006
MONO ACTING COMPETITION- Santiniketan, My Dearest

Sanitiniketan given its cultural legacy and the heritage it carries with itself in the recent past has been confronting with new urban cultures of the city and specially the tools of urban culture like media and the digital world. A site which proclaimed the modernity of the early 20th century is on the cross-roads of an urban- rural juxtaposition and it has its obvious mark on the cultural practices in Santiniketan. Interestingly, there is lot of apprehension about Santiniketan and its contemporanity all over India which has always tried to frame Santiniketan from the point of view of a traditional institute (Indian traditionality).But as an insider one always experiences a growing community which is looking towards the appropriation of the urban in the rural context. Today Santiniketan becomes a more vulnerable site with its duality and dialectics and as such it is also becoming a new site for nurturing individual differences and co-existence. The present project evolved out of this urge to map this growing community.

Concept:Santiniketan has always been an exponent in evolving methodologies in community based interactive events. Since 1930s, with various events like Briksharopan, Halokarshan and other ritualistic activities, it has been practicing a community based cultural activity that has been successful in dissolving the performer and viewer positions. Basically, the most important criteria for any community based activity is to participate in the present cultural practices and disappear, but the most important aspect is the insider-outsider situation. The Gobbet day activity is an attempt to evolve ongoing community based activity that will operate from the position of an insider. Hence, everybody who is a part of the Mono Gobbet Society is equally part of the context and has no space to complain and this is how the society itself is contextualized. This society is at present made up of students of Kala Bhavan with no fixed membership and the responsibility to carry it on depends on individual choices; anybody can leave the society and join at any point. This Society of Fools declared August 1, 2006 as the GOBBET DAY to begin its maiden venture into the fools’ domain.

On the Gobbet Day, the Mono Gobbet Society planned to organize an mono- acting competition to decide the Voice of Santiniketan (an appropriation of popular television events like Voice of India, Indian idol etc) with the theme Santiniketan My Dearest. This event was basically a game and like every game it had its rules. Each actor was given a minute’s time to prove his/her love for Santiniketan but non-verbally. The idea was to subvert the whole existence of an invisible community whose voice cannot be heard or acknowledged. So each participant acted for one minute in front of a camera which was placed in a closed created room on the back stage of Natyaghar, the main site for any cultural activity in Santiniketan.
The audience who were all invited as judges saw a projected experience of the performances. Like the performer, the audience was also live documented and projected on a separate screen next to the projection of the actors. Each of the judges/audience was given three different colored fans to decide on the gradation of the performance. Each performance was preceded with a gong (a very common method implemented to begin any cultural event in Santiniketan).

As the event progressed, the whole context of the performer-viewer situation dissolved into the context of who is the real performer. Finally, the three performers were decided according to the grading and they were given Golden Chhatim (1st prize), Silver Chhatim (2nd prize) and Only Chhatim (Third Prize). Chhatim is the leaf of a tree that is considered to be auspicious and is used in various activities of this site. The whole ideation is very organic and open-ended, with no fixed agenda, where the idea of the author, the idea of responsibility and accountability is questioned.
.Short animated films made by the students of Kala Bhavana as part of the Gobbet Day activity

Performance of the students backstage projected in front of the audience