A carnival of arts: Try flamenco-kathakali!

It promises to be a truly eclectic and global affair. If you are in Delhi Oct-end/early November, you are in for some unusual aesthetic pleasures. Flamenco will fuse with kathakali, soul-stirring devotional poetry will mingle with strains of jazz, and classical art will consort with new-age literature. The Indian capital is set for a veritable feast of art and letters as artists, writers and entertainers from thirty countries get ready to enthrall a multi-cultural audience for a fortnight (Oct 27-Nov 11).

Not surprisingly, the sixth edition of the Delhi International Arts Festival (DIAF) is themed “Unusual and international.” According to the festival director Pratibha Prahlad, the gala begins with sufi musicians from India, Pakistan, Iran and Turkey. Singapore’s Maya Dance Theatre Troupe has been invited to present traditional music and dance.

There will be spiritual thrills as well. At Talking to God in the Mother Tongue, Indian women classical dancers and musicians like Kiran Segal (odissi), Lakshmi Vishwanathan, (bharatnatyam) Rani Khanam (kathak), Saswati Sen (kathak) will modulate their yearning for the divine. “The idea is to showcase the power of women. We will present women who live life on their own terms, not bound by rules or regulations,” says Prahlad. This time round, there will be a special focus on exposing children to pleasures of the arts. Writers like Subhadra Sengupta, Devika Rangachari, Samina Mishra, Sonal Kalra and Paro Anand will hold workshops and seminars in schools, conducting story telling sessions, art tales from India, say festival organizers. The closing ceremony promises to be breathtaking, with artistes from countries like Tibet and Bhutan performing together on one stage.

Eclecticism will be the reigning mantra at the arts festival. There are out-of-the-box events too: the “Flaggers”, marchers and flag mast entertainers from Italy, traditional puppets from the Czech Republic, the aboriginal Pilbara project from Australia, Sahara music from Morocco, Mandala prayer chants from Lithuania, Tagore theatre by Ratan Thiyam and Buddhist cultural performances from Bhutan and Sikkim.

“DIAF celebrates culture in its entirety. It unites artistes and performers from around the world, from the traditional to the avant garde,” says Prahlad in an interview.

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