By JAPHET ALAKAM
As the August 13th date for the much anticipated first-ever Festival of India in Nigeria draws near, hundreds of Indians and Nigerians last Sunday witnessed the colourful Chariot Inauguration Ceremony which took place at the Maryland, Lagos home of Gaurapad Charities, the official sponsor of the Festival.
The three towering, beautifully decorated Chariots ( Jagannatha, Baladeva and Subhadra) are the central spectacle of the *Festival of India* which has an inestimable impact on the minds and hearts of its countless visitors and active participants in major cities worldwide.
The tradition hails from the ancient city of Puri and has been celebrated for thousands of years. It is the grand culmination of a series of celebrations spread over the summer and monsoon months in India and is the most splendid of them all.
Brought to the west in the sixties by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the Chariots Festivals are now celebrated annually in major cities worldwide, notably in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Durban.
This was followed with superlative performances that thrilled the audiences by many cultural groups of India that exhibited colourful display of various Indian costumes, dressing and dance groups and some Nigerians that showed what is being expected at the festival.
Bolaji Rosiji, the Founder of Gaurapad Charities and a former President of the Performing Musicians’ Association of Nigeria (PMAN), who is also the Co-Chairman of the Festival of India Organising Committee explained, “The Festival is not only about fashion, jewellery, culture and Bollywood. We are using the platform to forge diplomatic, cultural and commercial ties with the world’s fastest growing economy – India.”
Co-Chairman of the Festival Organizing Committee, Mr Diwesh Mishra reminded the audience that the Festival would include a colourful display of various Indian costumes, dressing and dance groups representing different states in India as well as cultural groups from Nigeria.
The Festival of India’s stage will host an unprecedented kaleidoscope of internationally renowned traditional and contemporary music stars from India and Nigeria such as the multiple-award winner Anup Jalota (Emperor of Songs), Bollywood Diva Yuvika Chaudhary, Nigerian Superstar Davido, Fuji maestro Pasuma Wonder, Gospel star Sammi Okposo, legendary flutist Tee Mac, renowned female talking drummer (and recently appointed cultural ambassador to the Kingdom of Ile-Ife) Ara – as well as a host of other rising stars, dancers, and dramatic artists.