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Events Planned in UK, Uttarakhand to Mark 50th Year of Beatles’ India Visit

The Beatles

The 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ visit to India is going to be marked by several events, the first of which is an exhibition in their home city Liverpool. A Beatles festival in Uttarakhand is also planned.

The exhibition in the United Kingdom, titled Beatles in India, will open on Feb. 16 and run for two years at The Beatles Story museum, Xinhua reported. The exhibition will showcase what is often called a key and relatively secretive part of the lives of the music band members — John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr — with never-before-seen memorabilia, imagery and personal accounts from the people who were there with the band in 1968.

On display will be a sitar used by Indian classical musician Ravi Shankar, who mentored George Harrison, that has been loaned to The Beatles Story by Ravi Shankar Foundation. Ravi Shankar’s influence on Harrison led to the popularity of the use of Indian instruments in 1960s pop music.

The exhibit will also feature photography from Paul Saltzman, a sound engineer for the National Film Board of Canada at the time, who photographed the Beatles during their stay. Saltzman took some of the most iconic and intimate images of the band’s time in India.

George Harrison’s former wife Pattie Boyd, and her sister Jenny Boyd, who also accompanied the band, will give their insight into the time. “The exhibit will look at the groups’ inspiration for the trip, their introduction into Transcendental Meditation as well as the songs they worked on in advance of the famous Beatles’s White Album,” said a spokesman at the Beatles Story, the report said.

“It really was a special, magical time; forming many memories and, of course, an abundance of great Beatles music. I look forward to sharing thoughts and memories of India as part of the exhibition,” Boyd was quoted by Xinhua as saying.

Diane Glover, from the Beatles Story, went to Rishikesh in April 2017 to meet the government officials. She went to the Maharishi’s Ashram, which has opened as a tourist attraction, and said: “It’s a magical place and as we walked through the remains of the Maharishi’s Ashram, it is clearly a place of peace and seclusion.”

The Beatles came to Rishikesh to get away from the media fanfare around them and in search of spirituality after their manager’s death in 1968. The ashram they went to, situated at Swargashram after crossing the Ram Jhoola — the Chaurasi Kutia Ashram now known as the Beatles Ashram — caught global attention shortly after the band’s visit. The group disbanded two years after their tour.

Their time of reflection, however, did not remain unmarked by controversy — Ringo Starr left in 10 days and Paul McCartney after a month. John Lennon and George Harrison stayed on but there were controversies and allegations regarding the maharishi’s alleged misbehavior with actress Mia Farrow, who was there as well. Lennon is later said to have written the song Sexy Sadie about the alleged incident.

Even with the controversy, it turned out to be one of the most creative period in the band’s career. Seventeen of the 48 songs they wrote by the banks of the Ganges were used in The Beatles (White Album) and two more in Abbey Road.

The Uttarakhand state tourism department will also celebrate 50 years of Beatles group’s visit at Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s ashram in Rishikesh for the first three consecutive evenings during the International Yoga Festival starting from March 1 to 7. The ashram will have free entry during the festival.