By Japhet Alakam
This is the most colourful phenomenon I have ever witnessed in my life!” Exclaimed Bamidele, a Lagos based banker, who had shared the fun filled weekend with his family. Despite the rains that tried to take the joy of the guests, the much-anticipated Festival of India lived up to its billings as it could be described as a huge success. Though the festival has come and gone , but the memories will continue to linger as the festival has come to stay.
It started with the parade which was a total showstopper, as three gigantic hand pulled chariots from the ancient city of Orissa towered high into the Lagos skyline. Only a cluster of birds flew higher.
But wait, these were not birds at all; they were drones -cameras in the skyes! After all this was the only way the event could have been filmed. The parade was a human sea stretching as far as the eye could see.
Igbokiti from Western Nigeria slugged it out with the Kerala Samaj – an ethnic group from Southern India. While the Durbar Horsemen raced with their Punjabi counterparts from Northern India – heavily bearded, Powerbiking, turbaned and screaming Punjabis who added spice to the blend!
It was entertainment at its highest level, and if improved on the showstopper could be Nigeria’s premier international tourist attraction. The Igbokiti cultural group won 1st prize in the Parade category, while the Oriya Samaj won 1st prize in the Chariot Design category.
But it just started! What about the Indo-Nigerian EXPO that followed? And the concert too? Phase two of the Festival was an international EXPO, with up to one hundred and fifteen corporate bodies, ethnic exhibitors and retailers taking stalls at the TBS grounds.
The Lagos Ministry of Commerce also accompanied 15 SMEs to the venue, to help showcase their works in the international arena. Sponsors like MTN, Godrej and Zworld were bustling with activity. The food court occupied a section of the grounds and you could buy anything from Biryani, capatis, assorted masalas, you name it.
As people moved along the stalls they encountered the much-advertised fashion and jewelry section. All the Bollywood sarees, Punjabi suits, trinkets and others were all available at affordable prices. All the stalls of the Festival of India were beautifully decorated and the prize of best stall went to the Rajasthani Samaj.
Finally, came the final leg of the festival , the concert. The performances began with colourful children from the various Indian Samajas and cultural shows from all over India. Up-and-coming acts like Aditi (Nigeria) and Pandey (India) performed. Pandey surprised and thrilled the Nigerian audience with his rendition of Emergency from Dbanj and other Nigerian songs in Nigerian languages.
Top Bollywood star, Yuvika and Anup Jalota, as well as Nigeria’s Sammy Okposo, Tee Mac and his Gold Convention, Ara and Pasuma were in a class of their own. Nollywood personalities such as Desmond Elliot, Tina Mba and Saheed Balogun to name but a few, spent precious moments sharing thoughts with their Bollywood counterparts in the special Artists’ green room.
The surprise of the day must have been when Yamuna, a Nigerian dancer (Eastern Nigeria), who had studied in India, took the lead in the Indian classical dance category.
Speaking about the event, Bolaji Rosiji, Chairman of Gaurapad Charities (the official sponsor of the Festival) and Chairman of the Festival organizing committee who described the festival as a huge success said, “Now that the festivities have taken off, we’re asking Nigerians to please join us as we embark on a collaborative project for the revival of our SMEs in Lagos State.”