the formation and growth of INhaiku & TRIVENI
our journey - collated by Vandana Parashar
Pune Haiku Utsav - 23rd February 2013:
Kala Ramesh’s initiatives over the years culminated in founding “INhaiku.” A group of like-minded people came together to promote, enjoy and delve deeper into the beauty and intricacies of haikai literature.
INhaiku means being in the path and IN also stands for India.
The credit of bringing the experienced and budding poets together in a fold, giving them a platform to share their work with their peers, and letting the novices learn the art of writing haiku with the help of invaluable inputs from the fellow poets, goes to Kala Ramesh who has been working since 2005 to popularise haikai literature in India.
INhaiku - TRIVENI FACEBOOK FORUM, formed in February 2013.
In the Indian tradition, Triveni means the confluence of three major rivers: the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the Saraswati. Here it signifies India, Japan, and the world coming together to revel in haikai literature.
Triveni Facebook Forum has 781 members, out of which 50% of the poets are aspiring haikai poets from India. It's a home away from home. With hundreds of Indian poets coming together to learn the art of haikai, it’s a mini institution now. Many of our members are now being published in leading journals throughout the world.
The group is like a close-knit family and the members help each other grow and evolve into serious haikai poets. The poems posted by members are workshopped, appreciated and applauded.
To keep the group creatively charged many features have been initiated:
Monthly Prompts are given every month by different members. The response to this exercise is overwhelming. This popular activity has been going on for the last seven years.
Indian Saijiki: Indian Kigo - Seasonal reference in which the poets are encouraged to provide Indian kigo words and the members post their haiku with those words.
My Signature Haiku: Members are invited to send one haiku which they consider best describes them and their writing style, and its essence. Every Friday Kala posts one chosen signature ku.
thinkALONG: This feature is extremely liked by members. Every day a nugget of wisdom is served as food for thought. Members reflect on these and share their perspectives.
Way of Haikai: Today's Find: A published poem of well-known poets is posted for the members to enjoy and have a better understanding of the art form.
Nekkeresu: Meaning a necklace in Japanese. Started by Pranav Kodial, this feature ran for about two months. Seasoned poets were invited to pick a haiku of their choice and give an interpretation in a short write-up, mentioning a few techniques used.
Indian Kukai from INhaiku - In the Haiku Festival Vinay R and Kashinath Karmakar decided to start Indian Kukai in January 2014 and take it to the world scene. It was taken to the international level from January 2014. Currently, it is held once every two months.
Triveni Haiku Utsavs (Conferences) became INhaiku’s portal to connect with the rest of the haikai world. Till date, nine haiku conferences have been conducted in India by this group; seven of these were conceptualised and curated by Kala.
DECEMBER 2006: Pune
Susumu Takiguchi, Founder and Chairman of The World Haiku Club and Kala Ramesh together formed the World Haiku Club India in November 2005. Kala organised the first meet in December 2006. She managed to secure the support of the Pune Municipal Corporation and The Friends of Japan to sponsor this two-day festival. This was attended by 11 haiku poets and was held at the P. L. Deshpande’s Pune-Okayama Friendship Garden. Starting something from scratch is never easy and all the credit goes to Kala Ramesh, who set the ball rolling.
FEBRUARY 2008: Bengaluru
In January 2007, Kala approached the organization of the famous spiritual guru, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, for venue sponsorship. In addition, with the help of A.Thiagarajan, she secured a generous grant of Rs 5,00,000 from Sri Ratan Tata Trust. In February 2008, the World Haiku Club India conducted the 9th World Haiku Festival in the grand ambiance of The Art Of Living Ashram situated on the outskirts of Bengaluru. Vidur Jyoti, A.Thiagarajan and Kala Ramesh (core-group) saw this grand festival blossom into something much beyond their imagination.
In this three-day event, over 50 Indian haikai poets from different parts of the country, along with representatives from Ireland, the United Kingdom (Susumu Takigichi, Founder of the World Haiku Club) and the USA, gathered together to discuss various issues, including the future of haikai in India. The event included various haiku workshops, Indian classical dance performances and fascinating recitals of ghazal poems by renowned actors. It was the first time our poets met each other face-to-face at a time when social media had still not taken centre stage!
The World Haiku Club India honoured eight poets who have contributed to the growth of Indian Haiku. Each was bestowed with a beautiful Kashmir Shawl and a wooden Ashoka Pillar. The honoured poets were - Susumu Takiguchi, Stanford M. Forrester, Norman Darlington, Dr Angelee Deodhar, Mohammad Fakhruddin, Dr Dwarkanath H. Kabadi, Dr Jagdish Vyom and Narayanan Raghunathan.
According to a seasoned participant, it was an epoch-making event in India – something that would have a profound impact on the future course of haiku in our country.
NOVEMBER 2010: Pune
The third Haiku Utsav in India was held in November 2010 in Kala Chhaya - a cosy venue sponsored by the noted dancer Smt. Prabha Marathe. The Utsav had a highly charged atmosphere with haiku enthusiasts ready to take a plunge into the inviting waters of haikai literature. Workshops were conducted by Johannes Manjrekar, K. Ramesh and Kala Ramesh. New poets joined in and haikai began to spread its wings in India.
FEBRUARY 2013: Pune
On 22nd and 23rd February 2013, the fourth haiku conference (now known as Utsav) was held in Pune; it was partly sponsored by the Symbiosis Institute of Liberal Arts. It was an enriching two-day event filled with the pure joy of revelling in haiku and other forms of Japanese poetry like haibun, tanka and renku.
The highlight of this Utsav, spearheaded by Kala Ramesh, was the founding of the epoch-making haiku group INhaiku and the Facebook forum TRIVENI — since then the English-language haiku lovers have found a home to sit back and enjoy the luxurious warmth of haikai poetry.
OCTOBER 2013: Hyderabad
On October 19 and 20, 2013, a haiku meet was organized by Paresh Tiwari at Golconda Stones, Hyderabad. This meet was attended by 35 poets. Apart from the discussions and workshops, the highlight of this meet was the time spent in Dialogue in the Dark, where blind people as guides led visitors through specially constructed dark rooms in which scent, sound, wind temperature and texture convey the characteristics of the daily environment. Dialogue in the Dark is only in Hyderabad.
SEPTEMBER 2014: Mumbai
In September 2014, Raamesh Gowri Raghavan organized a Haiku Utsav “Distilled Images” in the SIES College, Mumbai. The major event of this two-day festival was the launch of the Anthology “Journeys” edited by Angelee Deodhar; it included haibun written by all the haibun masters of the world. This utsav saw the participation of an unprecedented number of college students, who got their first taste of haikai literature.
SEPTEMBER 2016: Pune
The seventh Triveni World Haiku Utsav was organized by Kala Ramesh in September 2016 in collaboration with Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts and Vishwakarma Publications.
It was a four-day event. The participants came from all over the world - Japan, UK, USA, Australia, Bangladesh and from all over India.
The major highlight of this remarkable event was a book launch: Naad Anunaad: An Anthology of Contemporary World Haiku. Edited by Kala Ramesh, Sanjuktaa Asopa and Shloka Shankar, it is published by Vishwakarma Publications.
This first anthology from India went on to win the Merit Book Award instituted by the Haiku Society of America in 2017 in the best anthology category.
Beata Wrzal (a delegate from London) recounts her experience of this Utsav as -
When Kala Ramesh invited me to Utsav 2016 I did not think I would attend. She had just introduced me to the haiku world and so far I had not written one decent haiku. Would I enjoy the event knowing so little about haiku? Was it safe to travel on my own to a place I knew nothing about?
Many questions. Too many really. But deep in my heart, I was ready for another adventure, new experience and of course I was very excited about the possibility of visiting yet another part of the country I fell in love with.
The inauguration session was quite grand. Kala's speech was warm, welcoming and full of new (for me) information and knowledge. There were other speeches by important guests from India and Japan and poetry reading by Mariko and Akila.
Dr. Sucheta Chapekar's dance performance was amazing. I was mesmerized. So were most in the audience.
Days 2 and 3 of the festival were less formal. We had different activities, performances, poetry readings, delicious Indian food during the breaks, unforgettable conversations and laughter in the garden.
I had a wonderful time. I met so many amazing, talented people, I saw another part of India, I started to write good haiku at long last and I learnt about other forms of Japanese style poetry. But the most important thing I gained at these three days of Utsav were new, real, long-lasting friendships with fantastic people from different parts of India and the world - people with golden hearts, brilliant minds and great talents.
FEBRUARY 2019: Pune
INhaiku in collaboration with the International Centre and the Department of English, Savitribai Phule Pune University celebrated Triveni: World Haiku Utsav 2019 and the book launch of Fuga No Makoto (comprising ten years of the relaunch of The World Haiku Review).
Now for some striking impressions of the three-day TRIVENI: WHU 2019 — over to Madhuri Pillai (from Australia):
Let the story unfold . . .
“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery — air, mountains, trees, people. I thought “This is what it is to be happy.” – Sylvia Plath (The Bell Jar)
And so it was. Under the canopy of ancient banyan trees, a three-day feast of haiku, tanka, and haibun, conceptualised and organised by Kala Ramesh, began to unfold. Triveni: World Haiku Utsav 2019 was held on the grounds of the International Centre in the sprawling campus of Savitribai Phule Pune University.
A minute of silence was observed in memory of Angelee Deodhar. After the lighting of the lamp, Kala Ramesh welcomed us, tracing the path of eight haiku utsavs held so far in India from 2006 to 2019. Kala mentioned how it all started with Susumu san making her the facilitator of the World Haiku Club India on 14 November 2005. Susumu Takiguchi, the well-known poet Founder of the World Haiku Club, and chief editor of World Haiku Review gave a beautiful Keynote Address.
Following this, the chief guest, Dr N. S. Umarani, Hon'ble Pro-Vice-Chancellor, and Dr Ashok Chaskar, Head, Dept of English, SPPU, launched the much-anticipated Anthology, ‘Fuga No Makoto’, World Haiku Review’s best of 25 issues from 2008 to 2018. Rohini Gupta, one of the editors of WHR, spoke of the trials and tribulations of putting an anthology together.
One of the many highlights of this Utsav was the DANCEcharades - Kala’s innovation! The dancer enacted a haiku from a set of four that had been read out and the audience guessed the relevant haiku. Padma Damodaran had us enthralled; she brilliantly captured the essence of each haiku. Her rendition of each haiku with classical dance movements and her choice of music was complementary and exquisite.
After the Forest Bathing at Alice Gardens, we were delightfully surprised by a flash-dance routine presented by the children of St Anne’s. Their youthful energy and catchy music soon had us clapping enthusiastically with some of us itching to join in.
Bruce Ross’s video recording, followed by Susumu Takiguchi’s talk on kigo, was well-received, and the discussions were open and informal, as everyone got a chance to voice their query or opinion.
During the haikaiSLAM Contest on the last day of the Utsav, another brainchild of Kala’s, contestants recited haiku, tanka or haibun from memory for one minute in the first round and for two minutes in the second round. The standards set by the contestants were extremely high, and my sympathies were with the judges, Chandrakant Radican, Nandini Nair and Kala Ramesh.
Simultaneous Individual Workshops on haiku, tanka and haibun proved very popular. There is a poet lurking in every child: the alacrity with which young minds grasped the essentials of haiku was a pleasant surprise. It was a joy to read their haiku at the end of the session.
Towards the end of the final day, Susumu Takiguchi announced the results of The R. H. Blyth Award for 2019. Eufemia Griffo of Italy won the £300 prize with her haiku.
All good things come to an end, and so it was with the Utsav. After the Vote of Thanks by Pranav Kodial, we bid farewell to our old and new friends with promises to keep in touch.
In the silent aftermath of the Utsav, a haiku by Kala’s student, Iqra Raza sums it all up.
pausing for water
I drink the moon
A report by Madhuri Pillai – Australia.
AUGUST 2020: Triveni went virtual!
Kala dared to curate the First National TRIVENI VIRTUAL MAHOTSAV 2020 on 15 & 16 August. It brought 86 of our members together. This unique event merits a separate write-up and is prepared by Priti Aisola, Lakshmi Iyer and Teji Sethi.
Presently, Haiku Utsavs are close-knit affairs, strictly only for enthusiasts. It is still a niche market, looking for funding and strong support. The past few years have seen an increased interest in haikai poetry. People of all age groups are exploring this art and trying it out too. Hopefully, this will help haikai grow and blossom gloriously in India in the near future.
Each Triveni Haiku Utsav has been an unparalleled source of love, soulful connections and warm friendships, in addition to cultural and artistic pursuits. May we continue to have many more such Utsavs for years to come.
Read our post on Triveni Virtual Mahotsav 2020 Review here.