Artists and Performers elevate India’s culture
One of the most popular events in the religious and social calendar of the country will mark its beginning this weekend at Aotea Square in Auckland City.
‘Diwali 2016,’ will be held on October 15 and 16 from 12 pm to 9 pm.
Organised by the Asia New Zealand Foundation, Auckland Council (in Auckland), Wellington Council (in Wellington) Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) with the support and sponsorship of a number of government and private organisations, the annual event attracts tens of thousands of people of varied ethnicities and communities.
It will be the first for Phil Goff as Mayor-Elect of Auckland City, as he will take charge on November 1, 2016.
An ATEED statement said that the festival is free to attend, alcohol-free, smoke-free and family friendly.
“It offers festival-goers a chance to see live dance, music, puppet and theatre performances and attend workshops, including workshops for children, along with storytelling, amusement rides and games. This is Auckland’s largest vegetarian festival, where people can sample the flavours of India fresh from a host of street food stalls.,” the notification said.
Four Acts are on the cards at the Auckland and Wellington Diwali Festivals, organised by Asia New Zealand Foundation, with the support of the Indian High Commission in Wellington and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations based in Delhi.
Among them are Kathak Dancer Meghranjani Medhi, Rajasthani Puppeteer Vinod Bhatt and his Group, Gond artist Venkat Shyam and Paper-Cut artist Parth Kothekar.
A professional dancer with a number of performances in major parts of the world to her credit, she was trained and groomed by her mother Marami, who is also a choreographer.
Her films include ‘Lakhimi’ and ‘Abhimani Mon,’ while the television mega-serial ‘Tumi Dusokut Kajol Lole,’ is a popular soap opera.
Kathak is one of India’s 10 major classical dance forms. Dancers traditionally wear heavy bells strapped around their ankles. As they make rapid foot movements, the bells harmonise with the music.
The family run a Kathak dance institute in Guwahati.
Meghranjani and her group are travelling to New Zealand with the support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Indian High Commission.
Puppet master Vinod Bhatt and his troupe from Jaipur will show their skill in the art, which is stated to be more than 1000 years old.
Traditionally, puppeteers from the nomadic Bhatt community went from village to village presenting popular stories from the sacred epic poems, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
Their painted puppets are hand-carved from mango wood. They are called ‘Kathputlis’ from ‘Kath’ meaning wood and ‘Putli’ meaning doll. The puppets wear bright costumes fashioned from scraps of cloth. Most – except for the acrobats and the wrestler puppets – have long trailing skirts or robes instead of legs.
In recent times, the Indian government and numerous non-governmental organisations have been employing the Bhatt community to use their puppetry skills to educate poor people about social issues such as AIDS, family planning, and women’s rights.
The Rajasthani puppeteers are travelling to New Zealand with the support of Singapore Airlines.
Gond Artist Venkat Shyam
Venkat has developed his own style of contemporary Gond art, using bright acrylic colours on canvas and paper
He was born into the Gond tribe of Madhya Pradesh in central India, known for their skill in wall painting. Traditionally artists used natural colours derived from charcoal, soil, plants and cow dung to depict celebrations and man’s relationship with nature.
Venkat’s skill at painting was recognized at an early age by his uncle, himself an internationally known Gond artist.
In time Venkat developed his own style of contemporary Gond art, using bright acrylic colours on canvas and paper.
Today his work still draws from Gond myth, oral history and nature, but Venkat also depicts scenes of modern city life and his own personal experience, including a series of 16 paintings based on the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks to which he was a witness.
Earlier this year Venkat’s work featured at the Asia Pacific Triennial in Brisbane. In April, his first book, the graphic autobiography Finding My Way was published, telling his life’s story through drawings.
Venkat Shyam is travelling to New Zealand with the support of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and the Indian High Commission.
Paper Cut Artist Parth Kothekar
Paper cut artist Parth Kothekar, from Gujarat’s largest city Ahmedabad, carves delicate artworks, each made with a pencil, a sheet of paper and a sharp blade. Intricate pieces depict feathers, women’s flowing dresses and hair, bicycles, ferns and insect wings.