“My mother-in-law and social worker Sushilavati Swain asked me to start some cultural activity in Konark, so we acquired a piece of land in 1978. Two years later, we built a mud hut and called it the Konark Nata Mandap. Every Sunday we had a meeting and artistes from the nearby areas would come and spend the entire day singing, dancing and playing various musical instruments,” Gangadhar Pradhan says. This created an ambience of culture. The mandap’s activity started in 1980 as a small get-together but soon there was no looking back as it paved the way for the five-day international Konark Dance and Music Festival, that is held every year in this small town of Orissa.
Besides, the Konark Nata Mandap was re-christened Konark Natya Mandap (KNM). It has undergone several changes over the years. And, it has finally taken the shape of the replica of the world famous Sun Temple.
“The festival started in 1986 on the day of Shivaratri. But the seeds of the festival were sown in my mind when I had gone to the Swedish embassy and saw posters of the Khajuraho Festival there. That’s how the idea of the Konark Dance and Music Festival took shape in my mind,” remarks Pradhan.
In the true sense, it was the harbinger of the contemporary festivals of Odisha. “The main objective of the festival is not merely to provide entertainment but to educate and refine. It aims to harmoniously blend the classical, spiritual, tribal and folk aspects of the glorious cultural traditions.”
Built through the painstaking efforts of Gangadhar Pradhan, KNM now is a performer’s delight. A replica of the natyashala of the scintillating and stupendous Sun Temple of Konark, it provides the right kind of ambience for artistes, connoisseurs and art lovers from India and abroad.
The KNM serves as a temple of learning. Following the glorious traditions of Guru Kula Parampara, it provides teaching and training in dance, music, yoga and theatre. Classes on Odissi dance, Gotipua dance, mardal, tabla and Odissi music are being conducted on its premises. Experienced gurus and teachers share their experience with students who get the privilege of presenting their skill on the three stages erected on the premises.
That apart, KNM is functioning as an institution of cultural consultancy in the state for the growth and propagation of Odissi, tradition and classical art forms both at national and international levels. The mandap has shouldered a big responsibility of popularising Odissi dance and the sculptural epic Konark has metamorphosed into a living Konark.
Talking about his dream, Gangadhar Pradhan says that something should be happening in KNM throughout the year. “Now there is a festival happening 220 days in a year.” He is confident of achieving his goal by the middle of this decade.
Explaining about Living Konark, he said that people had seen Konark in stone, now they would see the living Konark and the dancing Konark. Once, this dream materialised, there would be a computerised film on Konark that would be screened.
“When I had given wings to my imagination, I had dreamt of the future 1000 years’ history which takes into account the cultural, spiritual and ritualistic aspects. The triangle of Konark-Puri-Bhubaneswar-Chilka will develop tourism as well as culture. What the tourist sees in one place will not be repeated in other places, so he or she will get to see something new each time,” he added.
Update: They did a fabulous job in the finals on the theme of “Hindu Muslim Sikh Isai, Aapas Me sab bhai-bhai” and got 27 points from the judges; 9 from each of the three judges. But they did not win. (The winners got 28 points from the judges: 9+9+10.)
Wild card round that got them to the final on Taj Mahal (25th September):
Semifinal on Mumbai Terrorist Attack(18th September):
The aims and objectives of the Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs) are to preserve, promote and disseminate the arts, specially folk/tribal arts of the country. The ZCCs endeavour to develop and promote the rich diversity and uniqueness of various arts of the Zone and to upgrade and enrich consciousness of the people about their cultural heritage.
There are only seven ZCCs in the country. Though no ZCC has its headquarters in Karnataka, the state of Karnataka is a member of the South Zone Cultural Centre (SZCC), having its headquarters at Thanjavur and also of South Central Zone Cultural Centre (SCZCC) having its headquarters at Nagpur.
The details of ZCCs, location-wise and the schemes/programmesorganised/executed by each centre, ZCC-wise are annexed.
Government has set up seven Zonal Cultural Centres (ZCCs) having headquarters in various part of the country as per the details given below:-
Name of the centre
North Zone Cultural Centre
Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Union Territory of Chandigarh
West Zone Cultural Centre
Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa, Union Territories of Daman & Diu and Dadra & Nagar Haveli
South Zone Cultural Centre
Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Union Territories of Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, Puducherry.
South Central Zone Cultural Centre
Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra
Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre
Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur, Orissa, Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal and Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
North Central Zone Cultural Centre
Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Rajasthan,Uttarakhand and NCT of Delhi.
North East Zone Cultural Centre
Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim and Tripura.
The ZCCs have been carrying out various activities in accordance with their aims and objectives:-
I.National Cultural Exchange Programme: With a view to present art forms of one region to another and expose the diverse cultural heritage of each region to the rest of the country, the folk/tribal artistes are sent on exchange manner to participate in the programmes organized by the seven Zonal Cultural Centres.
II.Guru ShishyaParampara Scheme:The Scheme was introduced in 2003-04 with a view to promote development of new talents in the field of music and dance, folk and tribal art forms, under the able guidance of Gurus.
III.Young Talented Artistes Scheme:The Scheme was introduced during the year 2004-05 to recognize and encourage young talents in the various Folk/Tribal arts forms in different regions in the country.
IV.Documentation of Vanishing Art Forms:Under the Scheme, documentation of various folk and tribal art forms is undertaken, especially of those which are seen to be vanishing.
V.Shilpagram Activities:ZCCs have set up Shilpagrams at Chandigarh, Khajuraho, Udaipur, Guwahati, Allahabad and Shantiniketan to encourage various forms of folk/tribal arts and crafts from rural India. These Shilpagrams are attracting a large number of domestic as well as foreign visitors. Through these Shilpgrams, a number of artistes and artisans are benefited and a large number of people are made aware of our rich cultural heritage.
VI.Loktarang – National Folk Dance Festival and OCTAVE – Festival of the North East: All the ZCCs participate in these National level festivals organized every year in New Delhi and/or other places. A large number of folk/tribal artistes from all corners of the country performs during these festivals to showcase the diverse folk/tribal arts of our country.
The idea for Zonal Cultural Centers germinated in the mind of our late Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi. At his instance, several centers were set up. They represent the effort on the part of the Government and the people to preserve and protect our rich cultural heritage and to bring it closer to the lives of the people. With each State or Union Territory belonging to at least one Zonal Center, the objective is to foster amongst the people within each zone and among zones, much greater cultural exchanges and understanding. This not only results in a better understanding of our heritage but also brings out the underlying unity of our diverse cultural traditions.
A self-transforming civilization that defies any attempt to freeze it in space and time, living India is a mosaic of varied cultures, layer upon layer, tempered in a history of a common vitality.
Since independence, it has been the concern of the Government of India to encourage the evolution and consolidation of Indian culture by bringing its different streams closer and by making people of various regions know and understand each other’s distinctive traits in a spirit of appreciation and acceptance of the unity in diversity within this country.
The establishment of the Zonal Cultural Centers, in collaboration with the State Governments and Union Territories, is one of the measures taken by the Government of India to achieve this objective.
The Eastern Zonal Cultural Center (EZCC) covering the states of Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Manipur, Orissa, Sikkim, Tripura, West Bengal and The Union Territory of The Andaman and Nicobar Islands is one of the seven such Zonal Cultural Centers set up by the Government of India with a view to culturally integrate the states and Union Territories as a part of the program of national integration.
Since its inception in 1985 the EZCC has been functioning as a cultural nerve center, between and among the numerous ethnic cultural centers/groups of excellence of the eastern parts of the country. The Center strives through its various activities to enrich, promote and strengthen these traditions. The Center is totally dedicated to the promotion, projection and dissemination of our traditional culture.
Over the past several years, the EZCC has been able to infuse among people a conscious appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of its own zone as well as other parts of the country through its manifold programs of folk, tribal and classical dance music and dance, documentation and publication, workshops, as well as its exhibitions on arts and crafts.
The numerous fairs and festivals, seminars and symposia organized through out the year are efforts to combat the constant onslaught of the electronic media.
The Center is under the overall supervision of the Department of Culture, Ministry of Tourism and Culture, Government of India and is headed by the Director. His Excellency the Governor of West Bengal is the chairman of the EZCC.
The more we try to unravel the mysteries of our own many splendoured culture, the more we perceive the underlying strength of unity and harmony that rises above all differences and distinctions and enmeshes us in its inherent bonds. This is what we are committed to project and promote.
A. The Bharatiyam Cultural Multiplex is situated at IB-201, Sector III, Salt Lake City, Kolkata 700106.
The facilities available at the Bharatiyam Cultural Multiplex include
Purbashree (Main Auditorium)
Air conditioned auditorium measuring 7850 square feet, having a capacity for over 900 persons.
Rangmanch (Open Air Theatre)
Open Air Theatre measuring 4000 square feet has been built with a seating capacity of about 400 people.
Naat Ghar (Studio Theatre)
Air conditioned studio theatre measuring 1200 square feet has a seating capacity for 100 persons.
Sobha Ghar (Art Gallery)
The air-conditioned art gallery measures 3280 square feet. The exhibition wall is provided with track lighting.
Karmashala-I and II (Workshop Rooms)
The air-conditioned workshop rooms measuring 610 square feet each are used by the EZCC to hold a variety of workshops on instrumental/ vocal music, performing arts, doll making, painting etc.
The open air space measuring 4270square feet is ideal for holding crafts fairs and other festivals. Beautiful sculptures made by eminent artists give the place a perfect ambience.
The open air Food Court measuring 2000 square feet with its ethnic background is an ideal place for hosting food festivals etc.
B. The Aikatan Cultural Center is situated at IA-190, Sector III, Salt Lake City, Kolkata 700097.
The facilities available at the Aikatan Cultural Complex include
Air conditioned auditorium which has a seating capacity for 110 persons. It is ideal for seminars, workshops, lecture demonstrations and cultural programs.
Dormitory facilities for men/women in two halls with 32 beds in each
C. SRIJANI, the Shilpagram Complex of the EZCC is situated in Santiniketan, Bolpur in Birbhum District of West Bengal.
This unique cultural center provides a conducive and infrastructure to nurture our traditional arts and crafts.
The complex comprises of huts, representative of EZCC’s member states. The huts incorporate traditional architectural features and design.
The question is if the Eastern Zonal Cultural Center is supposed to cater several states in the Eastern part of India, including Odisha, why is all of its infrastructure in West Bengal.
This means the system of zonal cultural center is not working. The GOI must exapnd it to all major states and establish a similar center in Odisha. Odisha CM must lobby for it and make sure it is included in the next five year plan starting from 2012.
Bharati: the wonder that is India is a musical extravaganza that is touring in various countries, mostly in Europe. Following is what their web page says about the show.
‘Bharati’ is a musical extravaganza, a delectable composite mix of the varied dances, music and folk traditions of India. Over the space of 90 minutes, the audience is guided through a brief but scintillating sampling of India’s rich and breath-taking diversity. Though just a glimpse, the selections hint at the hidden treasures of this vast and enchanting land; its regional, linguistic, historical and philosophical diversity; its myriad peoples, life-styles and traditions.
Due to continuous reinvention and renewal, these traditions appear to be in a state of constant flux. A taste of this infinite variety is offered in a show that is at once entertaining and intriguing. In making the selection, one of the guiding principles has been the search for elements with enduring appeal.
Music, dance and performance traditions have shaped the ‘collective consciousness’ of the Indian diaspora worldwide, and kept India alive in its collective imagination. Ingredients of popular culture have served as inspiration and link to Indian traditions and heritage. This show is at once a celebration of the vitality of these traditions and an invitation to sample and participate in their unique energy.
The namesake role of the show (Bharati) is done by Bhavna Pani from Orissa. Her introduction in their web page is as follows:
Bhavna was trained in the Odissi Classical dance school under Gurus Mahapatra and Attibudhi. Has won the All India Dance Competition and the Sringar Title (2001) by Sur Sringar Samsad. Danced at the Terrence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company and included performing in many stage productions Featured in films (Vettam, Yuvaraja, Tere Liye.) and TV Commercials.
He mesmerized us with the pensive Main Jahan Rahoon in Namaste London, captured our hearts along with Himesh Reshammiya with Aap ki Kashish in Aashiq Banaya Aapne, shot to fame by bagging the Max Stardust Award 2008 for Maula Mere in Chak De and more recently he gave us the melodiously haunting Soniyo in Raaz 2.
The voice behind these soulful renditions is Krishna Beura, an Oriya guy who is probably the first from his state to offer his voice as a male playback singer in Bollywood.
…Krishna, who specializes in Sufi songs, has sung for more than 30 Bollywood flicks and also worked in Hollywood with famous American musician Jay Oliver for a song by Sandeep Chowta. Now, he is waiting for Sanjay Gupta’s Acid Factory.
Gently slipping into its silver edition, Nandikar’s National Theatre Festival must receive a standing ovation for persevering annually over 25 years, providing Calcuttans the only sustained platform to see a wide spectrum of Indian theatre. Even if some invitees have proved substandard recently, even if the full houses caused by serpentine overnight queues in the past have vanished thanks to TV, the organizational achievement remains undiminished.
Almost without fail, at least one surprise every year has won us over. This time, Natya Chetana (from outside Bhubaneswar) did the trick with dramatist-director Subodh Pattanaik’s Mati in Oriya, though we might have expected it on the strength of their Katha in 2002. Among those few Indian troupes to live and work on a rural commune, Natya Chetana admirably pursues theatre for social development. Mati (both earth and mother) manages to connect all of India’s present woes, perhaps too causally, but nonetheless passionately. An American in top hat and stars-and-stripes (an unnecessarily simplistic demonization, the only flaw) sells hybrid seeds to farmers through politicians and middlemen; eventually yields suffer and the villagers are exploited, paving the way for Maoist intervention and violence. The grounds for the spread of insurrection are sympathetically delineated. The collective performs energetically (especially the main family, in the picture) and Pattanaik designs another trademark bamboo-and-cloth set, made exclusively of natural material.
Painter Jatin Das’s dream of a museum for traditional and contemporary art in his native Orissa has gone international.
Das was in Washington and New York last week outlining his plans for the J.D. Centre of Art in Bhubaneswar to his American and Indian American fans.
At an interactive evening at the Indian embassy here, hosted by India’s deputy chief of mission Raminder Singh Jassal, with slides of his life’s work, Das said the proposed centre would be the first in India to display both traditional and contemporary art in 14 permanent galleries under one roof.
The Orissa government has allotted an acre of land to the painter, who was born in Mayurbhanj. B.V. Doshi, the famous architect from Ahmedabad and associate of Le Corbusier, has designed the master plan for the ambitious centre.
The painter said he had been dreaming of the project for almost a decade and expected that it would cost Rs 50 crore to make it a reality.
“I have been funding the centre, which has a board and a small staff of six people, with money from my paintings. They are temporarily working out of a house in Bhubaneswar given by the state government,” Das told this correspondent.
But he plans to make international requests for funding and hopes Indian Americans will join in the effort.
When the centre is ready, Das will donate his entire collection of 45 years, including paintings, books and antiquities, to the new venture to be housed in one place.
The exhibition of artists from Orissa titled Dimensions & Directions that has opened at Mon Art Gallerie is a refreshing change from the cliched works displayed over and over again at most city galleries nowadays.
To begin with, these young artists have a more heightened awareness of the political situation in the state and also of the degradation of environment as the direct fallout of some political decisions. Some of the works may seem a trifle crude but nobody can doubt their effectiveness despite that shortcoming.
In Debarchan Rout’s canvas a man on a scaffolding is painting a wall green, while ironically greenery has been erased from the terrain beneath him in the name of development. The world map has turned into a black umbrella stopping acid rain from destroying a sapling in Rajiblochan Pani’s canvas.
Traders would once set out from Bali from the Orissa coast, but now the rivers have turned dry and sand is carted away from it. Huge factories come up in background. The entire scene in this work by Sovan Kumar is painted on a piece of tarpaulin.
Birendra Pani once again focuses on the young cross-dressing dancers of Orissa, this time folk style. In Rohit Supakar’s painting, a brand new car emerges from the trunk of an anthropomorphic tree, in an obvious reference to the resistance put up by local people against forcible appropriation of farmland by the government.
In Ramakrishna Behera’s wide-angle paintings of Ladakh, the dividing line between fact and fancy melt away. It must be mentioned that however well intentioned the installation on Ridley turtles may have been it ended up looking too obvious.