Namaste France!

By Ramesh Kumar Raja
In Art & Culture
October 6, 2016
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The two-and-a-half  month long festival to showcase India’s cultural prowess in France

art-cultureBringing India closer to France, the Embassy of India in Paris, in collaboration with Indian Council for Cultural  Relations (ICCR), New Delhi is organising Namaste France cultural festival from September 15 to November 30 this year. The carnival, which will serve as a window into Indian traditional arts, music, dance, theatre, literature, cinema and fashion, is being organised as per the Indo-French joint statement issued on the occasion of French President Francois Hollande’s visit to India as the chief guest of Republic Day celebrations on January 26 this year. The two-and-a-half month long Indian festival was inaugurated by Dr Mohan Kumar, India’s Ambassador to France, at the prestigious La Villette in Paris.

Sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, along with his sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash, and Kathak exponent Kumudini Lakhia and her troupe left the audience spellbound with their outstanding performances at the inaugural ceremony. Prof Sunaina Singh, vice president of ICCR, representatives of French government, senators, deputies, and eminent personalities from public life and other friends of India attended the grand opening concert having a crowd capacity of 2,000 people.

art-culture1Speaking on the occasion, Dr Kumar said, “No two countries share such a special cultural relationship as France and India. While both the countries are proud of their culture, they are also open to the appreciation of other cultures. Namaste France is a wonderful opportunity to boost the vitality of our cultural exchanges. It is a reflection of the growing partnership between the two countries.”

art-culture2During the festival, 70 events representing India’s rich civilizational and cultural heritage will be organised in various major cities of France including Paris, Strasbourg, Nice, Nantes, Marseilles, Lyon, Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Tropez, Tourcoing etc. and in the French overseas territories like Guadeloupe, Martinique, St. Martin and the Reunion Island. These events will showcase Indian culture in the fields of music, dance, theatre, cinema, art exhibitions, cuisine, spirituality, yoga and Ayurveda etc. reflecting the Indian ethos that are deep rooted in its traditions. The events and the scale of the festival will reflect the transformations taking place in India which has seen rapid modernisation in recent years while not losing its cultural roots. Namaste France festival will act as platform for the people of France to view and understand India’s historically rich cultural traditions.

These cultural events will be organised in prestigious venues, including La Villette, Opera Bastille, Hotel de Ville, Petit Palais, Musee Guimet, Philharmonie, Palais du Tokyo, Theatre du Soleil, Cinematheque Francais in Paris as well as at important places like Cite de la musique in Marseilles, Musee des Arts Asiatiques in Nice, Maison Folie Hospice d’ Havre in Tourcoing etc. Internationally renowned Indian artists like Santoor virtuoso Pandit Bhajan Sopori, Sitar maestro Pandit Kushal Das, noted contemporary Indian dance choreographer Astad Deboo, fashion designer Rahul Mishra, painter Anju Chaudhuri, Kuttiyattam artists from Kerala Kalamandalam and Michelin star chef Vineet Bhatia will be presenting their art at the festival. In addition, several French artists trained by ICCR in India are also participating in the festival. The mega cultural fiesta during which two major Indian festivals – Navratri and Diwali –would be celebrated with the performance of Violin maestro L. Subramaniam and legendary Kuchipudi dancer couple Raja and Radha Reddy in Philharmonie in Paris on November 30. Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar is also expected to grace the festival.

Earlier, addressing the curtain raiser event in New Delhi, Ambassador of France to India art-culture3Alexandre Ziegler said, “Culture is probably the most efficient weapon to fight against (the terrorism). Namaste France is a wonderful opportunity to boost the vitality of our cultural exchanges. Culture, fashion and art are strongly related to the images of both France and India, and these areas are the best to enhance what I call a strong ‘partnership from the heart’ between our two countries.” Highlighting the longstanding historical ties between France and India, Ziegler said the two countries share a great friendship, which is reflected in excellent bilateral relationship.

A similar festival of France – Bonjour India – will be organised in India next year, the French ambassador said. Namaste France and Bonjour India, he added, will enable a whole new generation of youths in both countries to discover the common vision that they share of the world and novel ways of expressing it.

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