South Asian arts festival to turn Sydney heart into mini India

Culture at a glance

The occasion will be Australia’s first-ever Festival of South Asian Arts that seeks to celebrate its growing cultural links with South Asia.

The festival, called “Parramasala”, a name ostensibly inspired by Parramatta, Sydney’s historic centre where it will be held, will showcase from November 4 to 8 an impressive line up of major international and Australian artists inspired by contemporary and traditional Indian and South Asian arts.

“Parramasala” will feature music stars like Kailash Kher and Nitin Sawhney, and Carnatic music icon Guru Kaaraikkudi Mani. The programme also includes dance performances like Kathak and American tap, contemporary music improvisors, DJs, and traditional Rajasthani folk arts.

As part of the celebrations, an entire street in Parramatta will be transformed into a bustling Indian marketplace. The festival was launched at a Business Club Australia function, the Australian government’s official business programme organised as a part of the ongoing Commonwealth Games.

“Parramasala will take the Australia-India cultural relationship to a new level. I am sure the people of Sydney will embrace Parramasala,” Australia’s High Commissioner to India Peter Varghese said.

John Montgomery, general manager of Events NSW which will organise the festival, said Parramasala would be a long-term event which by 2012 would reach its full potential as a 10-day festival drawing Indian audiences from around the world.

The festival, among other things, would showcase “Tap Kathak”, an “explosive” dance spectacle by Kathak master Pandit Chitresh Das and one of the world’s greatest tap dancers from the US, Jason Samuels Smith.

Three groups of traditional Rajasthani folk artistes will showcase songs and rituals of a desert wedding, while “The Guru of Chai”, a new comic play by one of Australasia’s most successful theatre companies, New Zealand’s Indian Ink Theatre Company, would tickle the funny bone of the audiences.

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