October 27th might not strike you as a particularly special date, but for audiovisual archivists around the world it certainly is. World Day for Audiovisual Heritage–proclaimed in 2005 by the United Nations and celebrated every October 27th since –is a day of awareness for the vast, fragile historical and cultural record captured on audio, video, and film, and those whose mission is to collect, preserve, and helpothers navigate it. At Wesleyan, that includes the staff of the World Music Archives (WMA).
When your collecting area is the whole world, diversity in your collections comes naturally. But as WMA staff Jody Cormack Viswanathan and Aaron Bittel showed in a recent presentation to the New England Music Library Association, diversity doesn’t just mean representing each country on the map. The lightning talk gave a quick overview of the history of Navaratri celebrations at Wesleyan, showing how from the beginning it has been a platform for introducing the community to vast array of cultures and musical practices in India, a country of one billion people. This diversity is, of course, reflected in the WMA’s Indian music collections.
So, in celebration of World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, here’s a playlist of short clips from Wesleyan’s 45 years of Navaratri, an annual Hindu festival marking the triumph of good over evil and the beginning of new artistic endeavors. These clips demonstrate just a slice of the musical diversity within India, and an even smaller slice of Navaratri and Indian music and dance recordings in the World Music Archives.
– Aaron Bittel, Director of the World Music Archives & Music Librarian