Features Saturday, March 21, 2015 - 05:30
Susheela Nair | Blog | February 4, 2015 | 9.25 PM IST Come winter and the non-descrepit hamlet of Sirpur reverberates with the sounds of tabla, drum beats, songs and the tinkle of ghungroos. The meditative peace of the place is transformed into a medley of music and dance and a riot of colours when celebrated artists of national and international fame perform on one platform along with local tribal artistes against the backdrop of the serene 7th century Laxman Temple in Sirpur. Organised by Chhattisgarh Tourism Board, the annual National Dance and Music Festival at Sirpur, has become a must in the calendar of culture aficionados. The festival, a rare confluence of culture and art aims at creating international cultural amity and brotherhood and revive the lost glory of Sirpur. The archaeological ruins of ancient Hindu temples, Buddha viharas and Jain monuments have beckoned travelers from times immemorial. An important Buddhist centre Sirpur was visited by Hieun Tsiang, the 7th century Chinese pilgrim and scholar who gave a glowing account of this place in his travelogues. It seemed quite apt, to celebrate the country’s myriad music and dance forms in Sirpur, the old capital of Dakshina Kosala, along the banks of the mighty Mahanadi. As I watched the cultural extravaganza under a star spangled sky, I realized that the local artistes were given a prominent place at the cultural fest. Chhattisgarh’s very own ‘Dewar Geet’- a traditional music form presented by Rekha Dewar extolling the deeds of folk heroes of the Gond tribals, to the Danda Nritya akin to South’s Kolattam, celebrating the arrival of spring by Sampariya and Group were all great. The evening’s Kathak’s performance by Yasmin Singh of Rajgadh gharana was quite captivating. But the star attraction of the show was Taal Chattisgarh, an ensemble of 60 tribal percussionists, ghatam musician Giridhar Udupa, table player Anubrata Chatterjee, bhapang maestro Umar Faruq and kanjira virtuoso Swaminathan who accompanied Grammy Award winner, Pete Lockett through a 45-min display of masterful percussion. The stellar performance, while showcasing Chhattisgarh’s unique and diverse forms of percussions, featured intricate jugalbhandhis and innovative on-the-spot improvised collaborations among the musicians. Other highlights of the cultural fest include ‘Milap’, santoor maestro Rahul Sharma’s fusion collaboration with accompanying Manganiyars, Rajasthani folk musicians and Leonardo Eto’s Taiko drumming. Visnamo (maestros in harmony), an exclusive concept, by Ustad Shujaat Khan(sitar),Vidwan Vikku Vinanayakam(ghatam) Prasanna(guitar) and American saxophonist George Brooks also drew rapturous applause from the audience. The befitting finale was the Kathak performance by Padma Vibhushan awardee Pandit Birju Maharaj and his students. A band of tribal percussionists Kathak dancer Yasmin Laxman temple in Sirpur Surang Tila in Sirpur There is much more to Chhattisgarh than Left-wing extremism. The Centre will support Chhattisgarh’s efforts to boost tourism to combat Naxalism in the state. Plans are on the anvil to promote tourist destinations in the Naxalite-affected regions and also development of new Buddhist circuits. Chhattisgarh has mammoth plans to host the International Adivasi Mahotsav in 2015 with support from the Centre. At the Sirpur Cultural fest, the Chief Minister Raman Singh announced special plans to promote tourism in Sirpur by the setting up of a Special Area Development Authority. In a bid to woo international tourists, new tourist circuit would be developed with Sirpur at the epicenter that’ll make the region one of the most sought after tourist destinations in the country. (Susheela Nair is a food and travel writer and photographer) Tweet Follow @thenewsminute

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