Port-of-Spain: A Festival of India, showcasing Indian art, craft and culture, is being held in Trinidad and Tobago for the first time and is proving a big draw for people of all ethnic groups in the island where over 40 percent of its 1.3 milllion population is of Indian origin.
Indian High Commissioner Malay Mishra said that the event, which commenced last Saturday and marks India`s 62nd Independence anniversary, will continue for a month.
"On Aug 15, India got her Independence and on Aug 31, Trinidad and Tobago got hers. We celebrate this month and in commemoration of that celebration, we are observing `Festival of India` for the first time in Trinidad and Tobago," he said.
The festival was inaugurated at the Mahatma Gandhi Centre for Cultural Cooperation at Caroni, Central Trinidad.
There are five elements to the festival.
A contemporary art exhibition, the first ever in Trinidad, will feature the works of 14 illustrious artists in India.
Called "Kalpana" (Imagination), it consists of 29 paintings from a list of top artists which includes MF Hussain, Amrita Shergill, Jamini Roy, Krishen Khanna, Bhupen Khakhar and Jogen Choudhury.
Odissi classical dancer Sangeeta Dash will also perform during her first visit to this country. Dash will hold workshops with some of this country`s leading dance groups, which include Nrityanjali Theatre Studio.
Mishra said that the presence of the dance group is aimed at bringing in the best Indian dance forms to this country.
The craftsmen of India will hold the spotlight in the programme.
"In India, we have a rich tradition of arts and crafts, hundreds of years. They are all award-winning craft persons and they will be demonstrating hand block painting, Kantha embroidery, miniature paintings, wood carvings and stone carvings," Mishra said.
Also, on the card will be a Hindi conference.
On Aug 16, the Indian high commission and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs in collaboration with the University of the West Indies will host a seminar, "Indian Diaspora in the Caribbean".
Since the programme began last weekend, people of all ethnic groups have been visiting the shows.
Trinidad and Tobago has a population of 1.3 million people and 44 percent of which comprise the Indian diaspora, whose forefathers came from India, principally Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. They came here to work on the sugar plantations and also to beef up a failing agricultural production.