by Swatee Jog
2019 has been a watershed year for Belagavi. I have lived in this city ever since I was born, for well over 40 years and it has always been a cool, quiet but unhappening city. In fact, I have a piece published on AAB way back in 2012 which lamented that we don’t have enough options that offer infotainment. Readers responded by saying that one need not search for entertainment outside, but rather enjoy the coolness of this city. I couldn’t agree more. However, what I was seeking for entertainment that enriched the mind and intellect while also making you enjoy the pursuit. How happy I feel to see a sea change. The past few days, I have, in fact, lamented that I could not attend a few really happening events.
This change is seen for the past one year on a large scale. What I observe is that if there used to be one event happening every year by one organization, others rarely replicated. Today you see niche events happening almost every day. I loved the concept of artists coming together and hosting the art show ‘Gulmohar Bag’. I am floored to see Anupama Joshi go all the way to Bangalore and host her exhibition at Taj Westend. Around last year when I was added to a bunch of Facebook groups started by women entrepreneurs, (Femmemart by Gouree Manjarekar, BeLa, Brahman Chamber of Commerce, JITO Women Digital Warriors, etc.) I looked at it with restrained optimism. But when BeLa went ahead and held an exhibition and the bike rally, I was more than happy to bask in that happiness.
The Art scene suddenly seems to have burst. Earlier there was Art Affairs, India’s only Art related newsletter by Vishwanath Guggari. Now we have the exhibitions at the Cantonment Board compound (World Art day by Art Affairs), Dhakoji Art gallery, Mahaveer Bhavan Art Gallery, Subhash Studios, etc. A simple task like clicking with your cellphones found meaning with Mandar Kolhapure’s Cellshots group. One can see the same Belagavi and its surroundings from a different viewpoint, literally! A photography workshop just for women was another noteworthy event this year.
Marathons were once a rarity in Belagavi. Today we have the Swacchability Run, Mini-Triathlon, Aarohan run, Police Run, the half marathons, and what else hosted by different organizations. What a welcome change to spread cheer about health and causes. The kite festival has provided a platform to talented kids, youth and women to showcase.
In a span of just a year, two institutes in Belagavi successfully created Guinness World records. Then there’s the Rostrum Diaries by Abhishek Bendigiri that encourages poetry. The Belagavi hotels have hosted some of the finest culinary festivals, from Dosa to fish to drinks. Made Creative works initiated the flea market concept, also popularized by Village Wajood. INTACH Belagavi chapter has filled in the void in Heritage conservation and documentation with its first book on Architectural Splendors of Belagavi this year.
The past two years have seen the Green Saviours team work relentlessly towards planting thousands of trees. Belagavi youth have also made the city proud of late. From Malaprabha Jadhav to Nidhi Kavilkar winning the first runner-up at Miss Bharat Icon and Mrs. Harpreet Khurana winning first runner-up in Mrs. Bharat Icon, to Sai Lokur being the finalist at Big Boss Marathi, it’s been a year of sitting up and taking notice. One can realize that this change has happened because the talented people of Belagavi have pushed their envelopes a bit more. They have ventured into hitherto unchartered territories. Women have taken lead many times which is really heartening. Doing something different doesn’t mean reinventing the wheel, it’s just about creating the best versions of yourself.
Belagavi definitely has talent. What’s needed is to come out of the comfort zones and dare to achieve more. Dasara and Seemollanghan is symbolic of crossing boundaries, treading new paths and bringing victories. May the people of Belagavi dare more, do more, achieve more.