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What we have inherited...

Virasat-2004 at Dehra Dun created some awareness, dished out some entertainment. RANA SIDDIQUI gives an outline.


COLOURFUL POTTERY from Khurja, jute bags from Orissa and Kolkata, tie-and-dye garments and camel leather articles from Rajasthan, bangles and dangles from Agra, stoles and shawls from Kashmir; clay diyas and masks from Lucknow... the list is endless. Away from the hustle-bustle of Delhi, all this traditional Indian ware accompanied with folk culture made its presence felt at Dehra Dun's heritage festival, Virasat-2004 organised by Rural Entrepreneurship for Arts and Cultural Heritage (REACH).

Not much different from our own Dilli Haat, this 12-day national level festival of Uttranchal, known as the Avignon Festival of the East, this time brought together around 250 artisans from across India as also some food for thought.


To a hardcore tradition and culture lover, the festival proved to be a heaven. While the backdrop of folk music and dances from Maharshtra kept the spirits high, the absence of any fast food joint or items made it closer to the Indian roots. And what more could anyone ask when the ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali was himself present to enthral an overwhelming audience who kept waiting to listen to him for five hours. Interestingly, before the ghazal king arrived, people were seen busy bargaining at almost all the stalls, and some relishing skimmed milk, gol gappas, tikkis and so on. As soon as he arrived, all rushed to take their position in an open-air seating arrangement.

"I usually like to sing in an exclusive, compact auditorium before lesser number of audience but since you too are exclusive audience let me treat you with some ghazals and thumri," said the maestro. The musical treat that followed kept the audiences to their seat for two hours despite chilling cold.

Photo exibition

What made this festival more interesting was a huge photo-exhibition on Tehri Dam at Bhagirathi titled `Aik Thi Tehri' which demonstrated how in the name of building Tehri dam, acres of green land was destroyed and its habitants uprooted. How 100 labourers died because one tunnel choked with debris and how the remains of the so-called constructed dam which never came, moan their death in the face of Government apathy and so on. Adding to it was a stall of an artist who makes world's smallest marble and chalk mixed sculptures and is all geared up to challenge Guinness Book of World Records, but is widely ignored by the art fraternity. And then there was an artist like Jai who makes three-dimension glass paintings and who has made paper painting out of 688 thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi, which he expressed to his associate T. Hingorani.

Isn't that called exploring the tradition in a better way?

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