In the spirit of promoting deeper mutual understanding between India and France, a cultural festival showcasing a multitude of Indian art forms will take place in France under the banner of ‘Namasté France’. Starting today, 15th September 2016, the festival will take off in Paris and following a 75-day itinerary, will travel to ten other cities in France and four of its overseas territories.
‘Namasté France’ resulted from the visit of the French president, François Hollande, to India as the chief guest of honour on India’s Republic day, and the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France in April last year.
Bringing together two worlds
“We will present a bouquet of events ranging from dance, music, theatre, cinema, cuisine, art exhibitions, yoga and Ayurveda. It is not simply about performances that entertain, but creating enduring bonds of friendship between the artistic circles of the two nations,” C. Rajashekhar, General Director at Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) explained. He also announced that a French equivalent, ‘Bonjour India’ will be organised in India in November 2017.
Namaste France is being organised by the Embassy of India in Paris in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR).
“Our countries share a long history of great friendship which is reflected in our excellent bilateral relations, but it is nowhere better-illustrated than in this initiative that brings together our civil societies so that people get to know, enjoy and most importantly share and exchange each other’s cultures,” said Alexandre Ziegler, the Ambassador of France to India.
Giving France the best of India
To offer the best of India to France, some of the imminent Indian artists like Guru Raja Reddy, Kuchupudi dancer, santoor virtuoso Pandit Bhajan Sopori, contemporary Indian dance choreographer Astad Deboo and Odissi classical dancer Dr Sonal Mansingh will be seen enchanting the French public. The ceremony will commence with a Kathak dance recital by Kumudini Lakhia and a performance by the sarod maestro Ustad Amjad Ali Khan.
Reddy, delighted to go on stage in France again, remembered with nostalgia his first performance in Avignon where the audience of over 5 000 gave his team a 30-minute long standing ovation. Such is the admiration of the French public for Indian classical art forms.
The Padma Vibhusan honoured Dr Sonal Mansingh, whose performance is still unlisted in the programme, is eager to offer a different dimension of dance. “Dance as darshan is a deeper perception. In India dance has been totality of not only art forms but also philosophical insights and metaphysical concepts,” Mansingh mused.
Pandit Bhajan Sopori, the ‘king of strings’, is looking forward to seeing some participation from the French youth and professionals in order to create some fusion performances.
Setting milestones in decades-old relationship
It is not only India that is eager to showcase her talents in the Hexagon, but the host nation is also leaving no stones unturned in setting the stage for its guests, against all odds. “France has been going through a difficult time, but still, when it comes to the festival, Namasté France, it was warmly welcomed by the Ambassador who refused to call off any event,” says the General Director of ICCR.
Indian culture, art, dance, and other forms evoke an instant resonance in France. While this kind of cultural festivals have previously been held in France, Namasté France will be unprecedented in terms of scale, outreach and the enthralling performances in store, setting it apart from the similar endeavours in the past.