East Himalaya

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Northeast Festival in Delhi

Jashoda Chettri from Sikkim is continuing a training with NDTV Broadcast Training Programme, New Delhi. She made it a point to attend the Northeast Festival at IGNCA, reports

Newspapers in Delhi were splashed with advertisements of the weeklong indigenous Theatre festival of the North East at Indira Gandhi Centre for Culture & Art (IGNCA), New Delhi from April 1st-April 30th, 2011. The advertisement mentioned that entry and car parking were free (as if to imply this will ensure good crowd). A website says ‘ Take a look at the textile exhibition with dresses and apparels from different regions of the northeast. From apparels and costumes of Ras Lila in Manipur to Assamese Bihu dance costume, the show displays an interesting mix of lifestyle of the people and their lives.’
But most of the days’ visitors were greeted with empty parking lots and only participants roaming around the premises aimlessly. A food festival has also been organised which where bhel puris and paani puris seem to be doing brisk business with the North East food stalls closed owing to a fire which apparently gutted the food stalls. A handloom and handicraft exhibition is also a part of the festival but there are hardly any buyers. A Naga stall owner admitted that “sale bahut kam hai” The plays were the saving grace but even they could not salvage the festival as it was a classic case of noble intentions gone horribly wrong. Hope the seminar lived up to expectations. 
IGNCA the organising body of in its hand out mentioned that the festival has been organised with the objective to promote the rich cultural and traditional heritage of the North East. The website has gives detailed information about the festival. But I wonder if that helped. Delhihites hardly seem to be aware of the festival. I took some visitors for a play from Arunachal Pradesh but we had to come back disappointed as the play was delayed by more than an hour because the organisers had to cramp the events of the previous day as well as a fire disrupted the schedule of the previous day.

A bunch of French tourists were walking past the stalls. One lady went to a Nagaland stall not to buy anything but to enquire about places of interest in Nagaland. She was in a dilemma as somebody told her she will need an Inner Line Permit to visit Nagaland while somebody else told her that her Passport would suffice. I am wondering if my vote should go for entertainment (the festival) or information (to travellers).

                           Text & Pix: Jashoda Chettri 
                                         e.mail: jashodachettri@hotmail.com

1 comment:

    NEW DELHI: Living in the capital, you can now experience the rich culture and lifestyle of the seven sisters and one brother state of northeast India. The ongoing indigenous northeast festival being held at Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) gives visitors the chance to not just sample the unique cuisine of these states but also enjoy live performances and buy traditional goods at the crafts mela.

    The participating states in the festival are Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim and it will be on till April 30. The cultural performances, however, are only on till April 10. According to officials, the fest comprises of various kinds of expressive human play forms, rituals, rites and theatrical activities giving a glimpse of the creativity and splendour that is an integral part of the north eastern people with about 300 artists performing live various kinds of artistry. While the cultural performances are scheduled for evenings, artists keep visitors entertained during the day with live acts like the traditional stick dance from Manipur. "I have been practicing this dance for fifteen years and perform it several times a day," said artist Santosh Singh from Manipur.

    While the textile exhibition has apparels and other cognate objects depicting the artistic fervour of the people, which are in synch with their ecological situation such as the high altitude mountains, river valleys, marshy lands, forested hilly topography, etc, the crafts mela is a haven for shopaholics with a wide variety of handicrafts, garments, etc for sale.

    From Manipuri pottery products to dry flowers from Nagaland to bamboo and cane products from Tripura, there is something to suit everyone's interests. Products are also priced reasonably with wooden items like pen holders, key chains, etc selling for less than Rs 100 to cushion covers and cotton bags going for up to Rs 450. Paintings are priced a little higher — over Rs 1,000 — while cane and bamboo products start at Rs 200 and go up to Rs 1,500.

    IGNCA, as part of the fest, has also organized a magnanimous four-day workshop from April 4 focusing on issues pertaining to indigenous theatre, their past, present and future in a close interaction amongst artists of northeast India and their colleagues in the rest of the country. The participants will get a chance to rub shoulders with various scholars, practitioners and policy makers and be heard.