Konark: The 32nd Konark Festival exhibiting the best of India’s ancient cultural arts was on Tuesday inaugurated to emerge as India’s first cultural festival post opening up of the lockdown.
The inaugural function began with lighting of the traditional lamp and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik declaring the festival open through a virtual address.
“The beautiful open-air auditorium at Konark has witnessed several prolific performances with the grand Sun Temple at their backdrop. This land is aptly called Utkala, given the synergy it witnesses among India’s classical dances including Odissi, Bharatanatyam, Manipuri, Kathakali, Kathak, Kuchipudi and Sattriya. This celebration has been made possible due to the untiring and united efforts of Odisha government which has courageously tackled every challenge posed by the pandemic. It is our firm belief that the show must go on. It is this spirit that fuels our zeal for good governance and preservation of Odisha’s rich cultural treasures,” Naveen said.
The opening show was a series of Odissi dances performed by a troupe of Orissa Dance Academy under the guidance of renowned Guru Aruna Mohanty. The Odissi performance, while is generally rendered by danseuses, also comprises items denoting mythological stories involving male characters.
The next presentation was Bharatanatyam by a troupe from Sridevi Nrithyalaya, Chennai led by exponent Sheela Unnikrishnan. Being a predominantly solo dance, Bharatnatyam leans heavily on the abhinaya or mime aspect of dance – the nritya, where the dancer expresses the sahitya through movement and mime.
The dancers and groups, including the vocalists and musicians, were felicitated on stage for their mesmerising performances.
The day also witnessed the inauguration of International Sand Art Festival 2020 on the iconic Chandrabhaga beach with 15 groups comprising 70 artists from Bihar, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and West Bengal besides Odisha participating in it.
The second day of the festival will showcase performances in Manipuri by a troupe from Manipuri Nartanalaya, Kolkata and Odissi by a troupe from Sanjali Ensemble of Bengaluru.
The festival has been organised in complete adherence to COVID-19 safety protocols like social distancing in access and seating and comprehensive sanitisation. The performances are webcast live on webcast.gov.in/konarkfest/ for those who are not able to witness the cultural extravaganza in person.