Ten-Day Youth Festival highlights talent of Indian Diaspora
The Indian Diaspora in New Zealand received recognition and accolades at the ‘Haryana Swarna Utsav,’ that concluded on October 29, 2017 marking the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of this progressive North Indian State.
Hamilton based Suman Kapoor, International Coordinator (Oceania) of the Global Organisation of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO) and Ratna Venkat, a popular Bharata Natyam, Kuchipudi, Kathak and Fusion dace artiste and Assistant Editor this newspaper, attended the ten-day event.
It was the culmination of a year-long celebrations inaugurated by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 1, 2016.
The ten-day event, organised by the National Integrated Forum of Artists and Activists (NIFAA), an NGO, incorporated performances of artistes from India and overseas and a Youth Conference attended by more than 5000 national and international delegates. According to newspaper reports, it was one of the largest events organised in Haryana, bringing together the Indian Diaspora from across the world.
‘Harmony 2017’ was the theme of the Cultural and Youth Festival at which Ratna presented solo performances, one of which was an Indo-Maori fusion dance.
The dance was in the format of a traditional Maori Waiata combining the Blessings of the Hindu Elephant-Headed God Lord Ganesha.
Amit Jagtap, a delegate at the Youth Conference, described Ratna’s performance as ‘absolutely fantastic.’
“We are often asked why we are proud of our Indian women. Although she belongs to New Zealand, Ratna represented India at the Festival. She is the Director of Ratnarang Limited of New Zealand. I am proud of having met her because she is the pride of India,” he said.
Other representatives from Australia, the Czech Republic, Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, Indonesia, Mauritius, Russia, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and United States of America shared their insights and achievements, making ‘Harmony 2017’ a unique cultural confluence of youth leaders for the youth of India.
Major issues addressed at the International Youth Conference included Social Equity and Gender Equality which are at the core of youth development and empowerment.
Haryana Governor Kaptan Singh Solanki emphasised the need to connect young people with the culture of India.
“The youth of the State has the power to strengthen the unity and brotherhood of the country,” he said, inaugurating the Festival on October 21, 2017 in the presence of Swami Gyananand, Founder of Shri Krishan Kripa Dham of Mathura.
A Harmony Rally formed a part of the inaugural ceremony. Organised by NIFAA, it brought together cultural and other troupes from various States of India, young motorcyclists from Delhi, Chandigarh and Karnal.
Superintendent of Police Jashandeep Singh Randhawa flagged off the rally, saying that such motorcycle riders inspired the youth to follow traffic rules.
Birthplace of Bhagavad Gita
As a part of the Festival, visits were organised to various places of historic importance in and around Karnal.
Among them was Kurukshetra, where an 18-day war, fought between the Pandavas and Kauravas, brought rivers of blood, and devastating destruction, destroying the Kauravas dynasty and leaving behind just the five Pandavas, their wife Draupati and their mother Kunti. It was the place where Lord Krishna delivered the Bhagavad Gita, a special discourse to Arjuna to make him understand the cycle of life and death, the sense of right and wrong in performing one’s duty and the mortality of the human body and the immortality of the human soul.
Ratna said that the visit to this historic site was a moment of truth.
“Growing up watching, reading and listening to stories of Mahabharata, I could not believe that I got transported back in time to the very location! One of the places that you must visit is the Sri Krishna Sangrahalaya (Museum), where you can see significant (and magnificent) episodes from this great Indian epic. I thank NIFAA, Pritpal Singh Pannu Ji and Suman Kapoor Ji for giving me an opportunity to walk on this Holy Land,” she said.
Karnal, which is located about 119 kms from New Delhi, derived its name from Karna, one the main warriors who fought on behalf of Kauravas at the Battle of Kurukshetra.
The Ranchhod Foundation
Ratna’s travel to India was sponsored by the Auckland-based Ranchhod Foundation. It is a registered charitable organisation which shares the goals and principles of NIFAA. They have dedicated their services to improve the lives of many, particularly children, and have worked tirelessly in providing medical and scholastic facilities to those in need in New Zealand and India.
- Suman Kapoor, Ratna Venkat and Premika Chandra of Fiji at the closing ceremony of Harmony 2017 Cultural Festival on October 28
- Ratna Venkat with Amit Jagtap of Haryana after her solo Maori Fusion dance on October 27
- The site of Kurukshetra reminds of the lessons of Mahabharata
- The Harmony 2017 Rally on October 21 was a statement of national and international integration
- One of the Harmony 2017 Posters