Annual Indian cultural festival kicks off in South Africa

Johannesburg: Electrifying performances by Bollywood singer Kailash Kher and eclectic fusion band Advaita World Music marked the opening of the two-week `Shared Histories Festival`, an annual event showcasing the Indian culture, here today.

The sixth edition of the event, jointly hosted by the Indian High Commission and the Joburg Arts Alive Festival, aims at highlighting the art, culture and cuisine from India over the next fortnight.

Initiated as a project to not only showcase Indian culture and arts but also to involve South African artists in line with the theme of Shared Histories, there is no local component this year.

"The Shared History Festival is an extremely important event in our cultural calendar and presents highly renowned and well known cultural personalities to audiences in South Africa," Indian High Commissioner Virendra Gupta said.

"The festival is unique as it showcases various elements of Indian art forms both classical and folk, in a contemporary format and appeals to a wide cross-section of the audience", he added.

The music component of the Festival also includes a performance by the violin virtuoso Dr L Subramanian, while the Nrtiyagram Dance Ensemble will feature in Sriyah and `Nothing like Lear`, the highly-acclaimed contemporary take on Shakespeare by The Company Theatre and Cinematography Production will make up the rest.

The last component of the Festival, which features the cuisine of a different region of India each year, will see the Imperial cuisine of the Mughals, prepared by Chef Vikram Udaygiri, on the menu at the premier Indian restaurant Swad for the duration of the Festival.

Activities in other South African cities have been restricted to only a dance and drama performance each in Durban, and one dance performance in Pretoria. All other performances and activities will take place in Johannesburg.

Sanjoy Roy of Teamwork Productions who put the festival together said the shortened period of the Joburg Arts Alive Festival had not allowed sufficient time to plan for the inclusion of local artists and led to the shortened programme, including having the two popular groups performing at different venues in Johannesburg on the same night.


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