Unique initiative to reclaim Cubbon Park as public space

Unique initiative to reclaim Cubbon Park as public space

In an attempt to reclaim Cubbon Park as a public space and to raise questions against moral policing and eviction of visitors to the park among other practices, a unique campaign was held on Sunday at the park premises. 

An array of activities from theatre performances and sketching workshops to scarecrow-making filled the park with diverse sights and sounds on the final day of the campaign titled ‘Blueprint of a park imaginarium.’ Kickstarted in the month of August, the programme was conceptualised by Maraa, a City-based arts and media collective, working specially to reclaim public spaces and also towards freedom of speech and expression. The campaign was  held every weekend of this month.

Made from sticks, hay, patches of cloth, newspaper and scrap, each scarecrow had a story to tell. While scarecrows displayed attracted lot of curious onlookers and visitors, Shakespearan plays such as ‘Comedy of Errors,’ ‘A Midsummer Night's Dream,’ among others, staged by children from the Theatre Lab, earned accolades and applause from the spectators, on Sunday.

“We noticed that many incidents of moral policing were taking place inside Cubbon Park and vendors inside the park were being evicted. About 45 scarecrows in the form of a balloon seller, fortune teller, street vendor and rag picker, among others were made. About 25 of them were put on display on Sunday, behind the bandstand,” said Angarika Guha, a member of Maraa.

She added that migrant workers, students and localites have helped them create the human-like figures.   "We are planning  to organise an exhibition at Cubbon Park displaying all the scarecrows. We also intend to share our art works with the officials from the horticulture department,” said Ekta Mittal, co-founder of Maraa. However, she pointed out that the police personnel deployed on the park premises were not cooperative. She added that around 20 of the  scarecrows were destroyed by Cubbon Park police during the first weekend of August, as they were presumed to be symbols of black magic.

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