Saturday, September 29, 2007

Incredible India @ 60 in Big Apple Concludes

New York, 26 September 2007:A Grand Finale, with the stage being taken over by each one of the dance and music troupes from India in an energetic symphony that represented all of the country’s incredible diversity in a single rhythm, was the culmination of the IncredibleIndia@60 campaign being held in New York from 23-26 September. The vibrant performances represented the conclusion of the event jointly organized by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Tourism.
During the four-day event, denizens of New York were also treated to a sand sculpture of theTaj Mahal, painstakingly put together by international artist Sudarsan Patnaik, who grew up on the wide beaches of Orissa and has represented India at many international sand sculpture competitions, winning accolades and awards for his creations. India’s enduring symbol of love has been exquisitely recreated at the Port Authority Bus Station where thousands could
witness it.
New Yorkers also strolled through an exhibition of evocative photographs by National Geographic photo-artist Steve McCurry hosted by the Ministry of Tourism and the National Geographic Channel. McCurry, who has won 30 international awards for his vivid images, brought the colorful vibrancy of daily life in India through a series of large photos ranging from the child Buddhist monk to the tribal women and chaotic bazaars. The beauty across the country was captured in enduring perfectly-crafted pictures.
The South Street Seaport was home to the India Tourism information booth as well as those of the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Stalls were also set up during the four days by the Spice Board of india, ITC-Maurya Hotel, the Tea Board and the Coffee Board, which dispensed a taste of India to the crowds. India’s largest customer for spices is the US and a range of flavorful spices were laid out. The teas from Assam, Nilgiris and Darjeeling drew large numbers of people to raise awareness of the branding of Indian tea. Booths also distributed colorful glass bangles, while a lady used henna for intricate designs on hands.
But the enthralling part of the evening comprised the rousing performances of the fusion music bands of Remo Fernandes and Colonial Cousins, both of which had the large crowd on their feet, clapping and dancing to the rhythms of the new India. “I am excited to perform in this city that is always moving,” said Remo, but he himself kept the throngs moving with his popular numbers ‘Hamma, hamma’ and ‘O Meri Munni’. Remo is the largest selling English language musician in
India and has been awarded the Padamshree.
Colonial Cousins also captivated the huge crowd of tourists, office-goers, and local Indians that had gathered on the pier. Their meld of Indian ragas and Western rhythms and lyrics has won many awards, including the Billboard Award. The two bands, representing modern India, truly wowed the Big Apple. Smiles came out on the faces of young and old as the stage was taken over by Puran Bhatt and his troupe of Rajasthani puppets. Cameras clicked and videos hummed as the mesmerized crowd watched the Anarkali and Bahurupiyapuppets.
Folk dances from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Assam, Kerala, and other parts of India as well as the traditional Kathakali dancers, revealed the intense diversity of the country. Yet as the drums of south India and those of north-east India rose together in a single rhythm, and the graceful Bihu dancers shared the stage with the energetic martial dancers, the different tunes and styles, the varying movements and steps, synchronized into a single entity that was emblematic of the unity of the country. The lively and joyful dances, choreographed by Maitrayi Pahadi of the Sangeet Natak Academy and representing almost 30 distinct styles, celebrated the range of India’s traditions.
The cultural events at the South Street Seaport and Bryant Park were organized by theMinistry of Tourism, which showcased the range of India’s unique attributes from taste to sound and music. “The Incredible India campaign presents a single brand that is always evolving to the rest of the world. State governments are building their own images and differentiating themselves,” said Amitabh Kant, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Tourism. The New York events had the support of Ms Ambika Soni, Minister of Tourism, who could not be present. Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs, Mr Vayalar Ravi, attended the grand finale. The finale brought to an end an incredible four days during which New York was taken over by the Incredible India@60 campaign. Organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Ministry of Tourism, the campaign fused together the business and economic branding of the country with its cultural
branding. “This definitely makes me want to go to India,” remarked a visitor at the
South Street Seaport.
And as the full moon smiled down on the pleasant evening and the strains of thousands of people singing Vande Mataram filled the air, the Indian tricolor fluttered proudly from the tall masts of the berthed sailing ship at the New York pier.