By: Ayush Jain (LT MHPS)
DIAF or Delhi International Arts Festival is India’s signature arts festival which is held on an annual basis. It is a cultural extravaganza which is unique blend of music, dance, theatre, poetry, literature, films and exhibitions. Breaching international borders, the festival serves as a platform to unite performers from various countries to showcase their talent and interact with local artists and audience. The festival is India’s crown jewel when it comes to enhancing cultural diplomacy.
Started in 2007, DIAF just completed its 9th edition in Delhi and was running across multiple venues across the city from 16th October to 1st November, 2015.
Looking back at this year’s DIAF, the calendar of events was such that I wished to be part of each event across each venue but the daily corporate life does not allow for such luxuries. Even If I had a clone, it would be impossible for the two of us to cover the events the festival had to offer. Still I made it to quite a few events and would like to take you through the memorable experiences I had.
The festival began with a breath-taking performance at the Purana Qila on the 16th treating the audiences to “Vande Matram”- a multi-dance rendition encompassing the nine classical dance forms of India. It was the one of the most awe-inspiring performances I have witnessed till date.
A magnificent portrayal of Folk Dances from Sri Lanka. Dancing to the rhythmic beats of Dholaks, men & women dressed in colourful attire presented their native movements in a flawless performance. This was followed by the melodious “Meshinda” group of Hungary singing the tunes of Hungarian, Arabic and Indian folk music concluding with the popular Indian tune “Nimbuda”.
Odissi solo performance by Vani Madhav. Graceful stances depicting various poses seen in Indian sculptures, this display was a treat for the eyes.
This was followed by a stupendous performance of Bharatanatyam by the Kanaka Sudhakar group. Depicting the ten Avatars of Vishnu through their dance moves, this presentation was breath-taking to say the least. As a personal preference, this was the festival’s Magnum Opus.
Then came the progressive funk rock band Doppler Effect playing thumping & groovy tunes like “Told You So” and “Believe“.
The evening started with a display of Manipuri dance by Sanjeev Bhattacharya dressed in colourful attire which was followed by a solo rendition of Bharatanatyam by Suhail Bhan. Yes ! A male classical dancer who dazzled the audiences with his moves.
This was followed by the Pop rock genre band Swaraansh. They started with a groovy number Chaandani followed by inventive comic song called “Baba Big Chill“. The song’s signature line goes something like this – ‘Hukka Chilam Bong kare Baba Big Chill.’
Presenting the fine art of Kathak was renowned ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) dancer Manisha Gulyani. Rhythmic footwork and delicate, balanced movements were some of the highlights of her mesmerizing performance. This was followed by the much awaited Progressive fusion band Rock Veda combining the tunes of sitar, guitar, tablas and drums with “Maula” being the highlight of their performance.
Then came the Bandawazi Sufiana Qawwals which took the audience on a journey of Qawwalis and Sufiana music ending with high tempo and popular “Duma Dum Mast Kalandar“.
An evening titled “Welcome Africa” as a part of the Indo-Africa Cultural Confluence started with the Dilliwala band playing some melodious tunes.
This was followed by the band Afro De Asia comprising of Ghana & Indian artists. Such was their stage presence that the African Fusion drums had the entire audience into a trance. They made an instant connection and their tunes had the audience craving for more when they ended.
Then came the Ethiopian dancers who did 24 non-stop dance performances in a space of 40-odd minutes. Colourful and unique, this was a fine display.
Jazz & Blues music performance by the award winning American singer activist Maya Azucena who is a part of the “One Billion Rising” movement which is a worldwide campaign to end violence against women. The music was fresh and the lyrics meaningful and was much appreciated by the audience.
This was followed by Mexican music group Nacho Sin Salsa who performed music from the southern part of Mexico, called Son Jarocho. Their music was rhythmic and harmonic combining the tunes of percussion string instruments including the popular “La Bamba” tune.
The above were just a few of the events that were a part of the Delhi International Arts Festival. The Festival is a cultural confluence comprising of 250+ events spread across 45 venues in Delhi NCR. The festival features art forms from the most traditional to the most contemporary. The venues range from eclectic open spaces to historical monuments.
The festival has a clear message – “Art is Timeless“.
So do make it a point to attend the 10th edition of this festival next year and treat your senses to this amazing extravaganza.