By The IST Newsdesk
Sydney, 26 July: The High Commissioner of India to Australia H.E. Mr. Navdeep Suri led the team of Indian and Australian officials and diplomats in launching the biggest ever Festival of India in Australia on July 26, 2016 at Australian Maritime Museum in Sydney. Confluence, meaning Sangam is the most significant showcase of Indian arts and culture ever to be staged in Australia, taking place in seven cities across the country between August and November 2016. The programme was announced by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi when visited Australia in November 2014
The national media launch was a phenomenal success with over two hundred guests in attendance, including media and government representatives from both countries. The launch provided a teaser of what is to come when the first show kicks off on 15 August in Melbourne, which happens to coincide with the 70th Indian Independence Day celebrations. One of the festival’s key components, fostering bilateral ties, with joint performances and collaborations between Indian and Australian artists and thinkers was addressed by Paul Myler, Assistant Secretary, India & Indian Ocean Branch, DFAT on the night. Kevin Sumption, Director and CEO Maritime Museum provided the host welcome. The media launch was held amidst a “jugalbandi” with Mahrisi Raval on Tabla and Trevor Brown on the Saxophone.
“I would like to thank the Indian Government and all the artists from India who have brought this showcase of Indian culture to Australia on such a grand scale. The Australian Government is proud to support the festival and looks forward to its success over the coming months, in cities across Australia. In particular, the Government is pleased that the festival features joint performances and collaborations between Indian and Australian artists and thinkers. I hope the Festival of India will help to foster closer ties between our nations.” Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield, Minister for the Arts.
A key component of the festival is the collaboration with the Australian artists, such as a joint performance by Indian spiritual music group Sonam Kalra & The Sufi Gospel Project and the Australian Musician Ashlee Clement along with a didgeridoo player. Renowned Indian Cartoonist Ajit Ninan will discuss political humour with counterparts like David Pope and Mark Knight.
The website drew attention to the festival highlights, which include theatre performed through life-sized puppets, an Indian take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, an exhibition on the philosophy of Gandhi – the global icon of equality, non-violence and peace, a musician who blends rock with Indian folk and a 5000 strong Bollywood flash mob on the Opera House forecourt. Events are scheduled in Adelaide, Alice Springs, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.
In the context of the festival, “Confluence represents a meeting point – of arts and artistes, of ideas and ideals, of cultures and civilisations. Like the waters of two rivers, they meet, share and imbibe from each other. That’s the focus of our festival, of the collaborations that it strives to promote.” said the High Commissioner of India in Australia.
Later answering questions from the media and other guests, Mr. Suri revealed that the festival will be sponsored and all the funding will come through the sponsors, including, Adani Solar (Platinum sponsor), Australian Federal Government (Department of Culture and Arts) and Indian Ministry of Culture, the ICCR (Indian Council of Cultural Relations) and Australia –India Council. But, Mr Suri said, it’s difficult to convert this funding int into dollars. He also said such festivals had been organised in Egypt and South Africa.
“But can we have conversation between India and Australia, without even passing a reference to bat and ball? I think not! Cricket Connections is a multi-media narration of that unique thread that binds us like no other,” said Mr Suri.
A special festival support message was provided by Australian High Commissioner to India, Ms Harinder Sidhu and Mr. Narendra Kumar Sinha, Secretary Culture, Ministry of Culture from India through a video link on the night.