Lok Virsa – Birmingham Hippodrome 30th March 2019
Spring was slow to appear in March this year but the sun burst through the clouds on Saturday the 30th  March just in time for Lok Virsa at the Hippodrome, in the centre of Birmingham. 

I had heard wonderful tales from other colleagues about Lok Virsa, a one day arts festival or ‘mela’ of free arts activities and pop-up performances for all the family, but I was not prepared for the joyous carnival atmosphere that was to burst upon the streets of Birmingham and fill the beautifully decorated Hippodrome with the vibrant sights and sounds of the Indian Subcontinent.

The afternoon began with a lively procession through the bustling streets of Birmingham with passers by drawn in by the stunning costumes of the dancers and hypnotic rhythm of the drums.




The energy and exuberance of the procession was even enough to stop the traffic in its tracks:

Crowds gathered outside the Hippodrome as the musicians and dancers opened the afternoon festivities with a wonderful selection of dances and invited the public into the Hippodrome for an unforgettable day of music, dance and arts activities for all the family.


My role for the day was to greet visitors and let them know what was happening and what events were taking place.  This was no easy task as over 5000 people came along to enjoy all that Lok Virsa had to offer. The time flew as I chatted to people who wanted to learn more about Sonia Sabri Company. We had lots of enquiries about the different dance and music classes that we offer inspired by the stunning performances on the day.  I was also responsible for overseeing our great group of volunteers. These students willingly gave up their Saturday to help where needed, from decoration of the Hippodrome in the morning to supporting the artists throughout the day and ensuring that they had sufficient art supplies for the popular art activities. As I zoomed around the building, I also took the opportunity to snap pictures and videos of all the activities to share on social media.  The dance and music workshops were full of enthusiastic participants and I loved seeing the concentration on everyone’s faces as they focused intently on learning new steps and rhythms. The joy on their faces when they were able to follow the steps was so wonderful to see.

The free art activities were popular with young and old.  Visitors were able to try out calligraphy, rangoli and book binding as well as block printing and it was great that so many who took part were able to take home a memento of their day. The mhendi (henna tattoos) were also extremely popular and the designs were intricate and exquisite.

It was lovely to speak to families that had never visited the Hippodrome before or seen the style of music and dance and art activities that make Lok Virsa such a vibrant and exciting festival. It was also so special to see so many families having fun together, from grandparents to young children; everyone had a smile on their faces.

The atmosphere was carnival like and the magnificent spaces of the Hippodrome echoed with music and laughter. The beautiful film screening of “Dastaan with Sarvar Sabri” accompanied by live music and the eloquence of the poetry readings brought the day to a dignified and serene end.

I feel so lucky to have been a part of this colourful and fun filled day and I am looking forward to the next Lok Virsa – watch this space, as we may well be coming to a town near you very soon!


Photo credits: Anisa Fazal, Liv Buckland, and Lisa Godsal
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