Jammu set to become world cultural destination

Aarushi Thakur
With the eighth country performing in Jammu this part of India is fast becoming the world cultural destination. With the coming of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) in Jammu with the specific mandate to take India to the world and bring world to India, particularly to Jammu, the people out here feel extremely lucky to have the occasion to witness world culture at their doorsteps. The objectives of ICCR are to actively participate in the formulation and implementation of policies and programmes pertaining to India’s external cultural relations; to foster and strengthen cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries; to promote cultural exchanges with other countries and people; and to develop relations with nations. The countries which have performed their cultural performances in Jammu include Zambia, Republic of Laos, Poland, Malaysia, Spain, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Belgium. Interestingly whenever the artists of these countries performed in Jammu, the ICCR also exposed them to the local culture, customs, food and traditions. Cultural exchange with other countries is a very important means of deepening understanding of India and promoting international friendship and goodwill. With interdependence among nations on the increase, it has become more and more important to promote mutual understanding of such social premises as language, custom, and cultural traditions and to strengthen heart-to-heart contacts through cultural exchange. The soul behind this entire initiative is the Regional Director of ICCR Jammu, Padamshree Balwant Thakur who is credited for bringing the culture of J&K into International limelight through his highly innovative and creatively devised and designed presentations.
The first International group which landed Jammu was the Zambia Cultural Dance Troupe (ZCDT), a group of professional artists drawn from nine different professional community based cultural ensembles in Zambia with a view of supporting the ‘One Zambia, One Nation’ motto, through art and culture. The group has worked with different organizations both locally and worldwide including the Government of Republic of Zambia through National and International activities. The group was headed by the Director of the Cultural affairs of the Government of Republic of Zambia and was escorted by the First secretary of the High Commission of Zambia, in India. The dances performed by the group were ‘NYAKASANGA’, ‘TAMAYA’, ‘FWEMBA’, ‘NDENDEULE’, ‘VIMBUZA’, ‘CHIYANDA’, ‘AKALELA’, ‘MANCHANCHA’ and ‘CHINGANDE’ these dances are performed in different occasions, seasons and stages of life in Zambia.
Zambia was followed by a cultural group from Republic of Loas which showcased the traditional as well modern forms of music and dance and gave Jammuites an idea about the distinct culture Laos. The country which along with ancient influences from India in form of Theravada Buddhism has also incorporated influences from China which are reflected in Laos in language, art, literature and the performing arts.
In all the artists of Laos presented 13 items, each item was different from the other representing the representative variety of Laos culture which is an amalgam of different ethnic groups categorised by Laos Government into three main categories according to linguistic, ethnic and geographic criteria.
Poland was the 3rd country to visit Jammu and introduced the Polish Jaaz to jampacked Jammu art lovers at General Zorawar Singh Auditorium, Jammu by first ever International Jaaz band ‘ New Bone JAAZ band of Krakow, Poland. The New Bone JAAZ band of Poland comprised of a team of five top musicians ‘Viz., Tomasx Kudyk (Trumpt. Fluehorn) Bartlomeij Prucnal (Alto Sax), Pawel Kaczmarczyk (Paino) Machiej Adamczak (Dobule Bass) and Dawid Forutona (Drums)
Next in the series, Jammu witnessed the artists of National Academy of Arts, Culture and Heritage, Malaysia In the Malaysian programme there was a combination of classical and folk Malay dance of Malaysia. The programme opened with a classical Malay dance from North of peninsular Malaysia called Terinai, afterwards followed a folk dance called Joget Cak Kun Cak which is performed by a couple of the dancers. The grand finale dance was Zapin Pekajang. Zapin means foot step. This dance is inspired by the Arab community, which is believed to have been introduced by Arab Muslims in the fourteenth century.
Spain was the 2nd European country to perform in Jammu after Poland. Two world class musicians Eduardo Paniagua of Madrid a specialist in the music of Medieval Spain and Cesar Carazo who was a Spanish violinist and vocalist from the capital city of Badajoz province in Spain mesmerized Jammu music lovers through their soulful musical presentation at Matrika Auditorium, SMVD University, Katra.
Nightingale of Bangladesh also known as Queen of Lalon’s songs Mrs. Fardeea Parveen and her husband internationally acclaimed flutist Gazi Abdul Hakim and their team which came from Dhaka were the next to leave a life-time musical impact on the audience here. Fareeda Parveen and her group of musicians magically transported the entire audience to the beautiful land of rivers (Bangladesh) through their soulful singing. The entire programme was based on Lalon Singing of Bangladesh.
The 7th country which left the permanent fragrance of its beautiful culture in Jammu was Sri Lanka. The artists from Sri Lanka opened the show with their traditional welcome dance which was a combination of major dance styles of Sri Lanka representing upper, lower and central regions of Sri lanka. The three main components of Lankan dance are song, dance and music and all three were included in this segment. Traditionally the performers in Sri Lanka pay tributes first to Triple Gem, then to the Gods followed by the teachers and the parents. The opening performance followed Naga Gurula and Naga Raksha dance which belonged to the lower region of Sri lanka and their movements are those linked to demons and their usual fights. In the entire programme the visiting International artists made a wonderful effort of showcasing the diversity of performances right from traditional music styles to the vibrant mask dances of Sri Lanka through ‘Swara Vadanayasic’, ‘Ana Bera – Nonchchi’ ‘Mal Padya’ ‘Thelme Dance’ ‘Up-Country Mask Dance’ and ‘Bera Sandawaniya (Drum Fusion).
The music band from Brussels (Belgium) was the last team which performed at majestic Abhinav Theatre recently. Dalton Drum Syndicate of Brussels (Blegium) a popular group of western Europe, took the Abhinav Theatre stage with tremendous energy as they played on four classic drum sets that were tuned differently. This dynamic four member band group played a mix of African, contemporary, Jaaz. They started the concert with African tune and slowly moved to a very long piece transporting the audience from one continent to another. This followed by a mix of French and Brazilian number. Surprisingly to have a direct connect with the local audience, they also played numbers having distant Indian influences. They culminated their performance with mesmerizing electronic numbers.