A development initiative for South Asian Dance in the North West

Story Fest 2006

Liverpool, 17th September 2006

This event was a joint initiative with Liverpool Wellbeing centre. The centre provided an ideal setting for the event. We had two short sessions both of which was well attended.

The three professional story tellers told stories from Sufism ,Sikhism and Hinduism. Each had their own distinctive style of delivery which brought a fresh dynamics to the sessions. The stories were fascinating and illuminating it was successful to engage with the listeners.
Jenny Collins had made a new centre piece to represent the interfaith nature of the initiative .Along with tasteful flower arrangements and cake cups full of bright colourful cut fruit treats the setting created a friendly environment. After a hesitant start the audience joined in an interesting discussion about the stories and the beliefs they represented.

The story tellers were Debjani Chatterjee, Anne Louse Wirgman and Bisakha Sarker. Debjani is a well known writer .She has written a detail resume of the whole event which she has sent to a London based literary magazine who will publish it in their October issue after which it will be available in Chaturangan website. It was both enjoyable and enriching

A resume of the day's events written by by Debjani appears below.

Click here for a review by Will Pitcher
of another StoryFest held on Sunday 19th October 2006.
Debjani & Helen
Anne Louise
Some of the audience
Helen & Bisakha



 [Photos by Debjani Chatterjee.]          

It was a glorious Indian summer’s day and Hope Street Festival 2006 was in full swing on Sunday 17th September.

Story fest – a festival of faith stories connected with the themes of healing and friendship - was organised by the Indian arts company, Chaturangan. It was the brainchild of Chaturangan’s founder-director, the multi-talented Bisakha Sarker. The relevance of stories of healing was obvious, given the building we were in, and Story fest’s motto was: ‘Let stories of faiths across the world inspire a spirit of friendship’. The Centre was a haven of tranquillity after the noisy drums and bazaar atmosphere on Hope Street itself. I climbed up the stairs to find a comfortable carpeted room with several large flower arrangements and an expectant audience sitting in neat rows - many were yoga students and regulars of the Wellbeing Centre. There were a few children in the audience of about thirty. In a little cleared performance space at the front, two lovely fanned-out decorations formed focal points that drew the eye. One was a colourful flower arrangement and the other a more sober bunch of Indian jharoo broomsticks, decorated with world religions' symbols. On a mantle-piece was a tray with paper cake-cups filled with cut strawberries - a healthy nibble for the audience.

After a quick welcome from Bisakha and the Centre Manager Helen Clarke, Anne Louise was the first to begin. A striking figure in a deep blue robe, Louise is a member of the Sufi Order (UK), founded in 1917 by the Indian master Inayat Khan. She recited Jalaluddin Rumi's beautiful verses translated from Persian. Next she told typical Sufi stories. Sufism, the tradition of mysticism in Islam, has always used stories and poems to teach.

I had been asked to tell stories from the Sikh faith – and did so with pleasure. I explained the meanings of Sikh greetings and then went on to perform a poem. I also narrated a true story – that of a Sikh hero, Bhai Kanayya, the founder of the Sewa Panthi, a precursor of the international Red Cross movement.

Bisakha was vivacious and elegant as she retold Hindu stories of healing - fascinating tales of gods, goddesses and demons. Her expressive hands brought age-old stories to life. She finished with a beautiful dance. Many in the audience had learnt yoga at the Centre. They now learnt that Shiva, the God of Yoga, was also Nataraja, who is perhaps better known in the West as ‘the Lord of the Dance’.

The afternoon gave us all much enjoyment as well as food for thought. Many expressed the wish that multi-faith storytelling events could become a regular feature at the Wellbeing Centre.

Debjani Chatterjee

Our work is supported by, among others

Arts Council  Esmee Fairbairn Contact theatre Octogan theatre MDI Arts Council Ryan Air Renewal ICD Lpool cathedral


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