Blue God and the Serpents is an interdisciplinary performance project conceived by Sharada K. Eswar and Rup Sidhu, that layers film, live performance, music, shadow puppetry and projection art. Sharada and Rup first met in 2012 at the Indian Summer Festival in Vancouver – Sharada performing the traditional Harikatha (Oral Storytelling) and Rup with his hip hop, beatboxing. Their paths crossed again when they collaborated for Toronto’s inaugural Body Percussion Festival and they combined beatboxing, Inuit throat singing and Carnatic Konnakol. What ensued was one of the most intriguing acts in the world of storytelling.
Blue God and the Serpents’ work lies on the cultural cutting edge, as contemporary folk easily rub shoulders with the classical and the popular. At the intersection of multiple disciplines and cultures, Blue God and the Serpents fuses sound, music, text, imagery, shadow puppetry and movement. The group reflects contemporary life, and subverts social assumptions, aiming to alter the audience’s perspective on their world. The results are utterly unique and pioneering.
Sharada K. Eswar
Singer, Storyteller and Writer, Indo-Canadian Sharada K. Eswar has established her place as one of the most creative artists to emerge from the South Asian diaspora. Blessed with a mesmeric voice Sharada has enraptured countless listeners with her stories and songs from her Indian roots. She makes the lines on the map dissolve; a South Indian sensibility radiates eclectic musical landscape.
Rup Sidhu is a musician, producer and composer of many genres. From a young age diverse music’s from around the world have inspired and informed his sound: from folk and classical forms of India, to Hip Hop, Reggae, Tuvin throat singing, to West African percussion and the list goes on and on. As a vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, he is inspired by the raw expressions released in live looping. He has toured internationally and has been featured on the main stages of many festivals including Vancouver International Jazz Festival, Vancouver Folk Festival and Under the Volcano to name a few. Rup has also been commissioned to create numerous works for dance, theatre and film, including the Leaky Heaven Circus, Public Dreams and the National Film Board.
Our self-titled work – The Blue God & the Serpents is a tribute to Vishnu and our planet – Earth. The work draws inspiration from the Dasavatar or the ten incarnations of Vishnu. In Hinduism, Vishnu (one of the troika) is usually described with a complexion, the colour of the rain clouds and as having four arms. He is a “blue man”, holding a lotus flower in the lower left hand, the mace in the lower right hand, the conch in the upper left hand and the discus weapon in the upper right hand.
Vishnu's eternal and supreme abode – Vaikuntha -- is beyond the material universe the realm of eternal bliss and happiness and the final or highest place for liberated souls who have attained Nirvana. His other abode within the material universe is Ksheera Sagara, the ocean of milk, where he reclines and rests on Adi Sesha, the king of the serpents, with a thousand heads.
It is believed that Vishnu incarnates on Earth from time to time to eradicate evil forces and to restore Dharma. Scholars identify ten incarnations – Avatars of Vishnu. Among the ten described, Matsya (the fish), Koorma (the tortoise), Varaha (the boar), Narasimha (half man-half lion), Vamana (little person), Parashurama (warrior with the axe), Rama (Prince of Ayodhya), Krishna and Buddha. The tenth, Kalki(the horse) will appear in the future.
The work premiered at the Indian Summer Festival, Vancouver in July 2014. The storytelling and the music was performed live at the Fox Cabaret.