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The many hues of Rajasthan

The popular and rich heritage of Rajasthan comes to town at the annual Art Fusion Festival at the Nehru Centre, this year. Undertaken since 2007 as a platform to showcase art from Maharashtra and an Indian state or region, the festival aids in understanding two diverse cultures in a broad framework.

This time, 56 artists from Rajasthan and a similar number from Maharashtra will come together to present a motley of arts covering handicrafts, music, dance, theatre accompanied with four lectures that will focus on Rajasthan’s advancement in astrology.


Kathak Danseuse Uma Dogra will be inaugurating the festival

“Nehru Centre has been promoting art for the last 20 years to encourage both established and upcoming artists,” says Nina Rege, Assistant Director of the Nehru Centre Art Gallery. She states, “Previously, the other states included West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and the latest was Odisha. This time we chose Rajasthan.”


Hindi play Jamleela, a Jodhpur production that will be performed on the first day of the festival

State appeal
The eight-day event will witness a slew of performances while the festival is inaugurated with Kathak danseuse Uma Dogra’s performance with her group. “Coming from Jaipur gharana, my dance performances highlight the rhythmic patternsand footwork, which is considered a forte of this gharana. I’ll be performing three items where one will be on the popular folk song Kesariya Balam along with Rajasthani folk dancers,” she says, further relating how the technique of taking rounds in both the folk and the classical dance form bear a strong similarity.


Puppets from Rajasthan. File Pic

Latafat H Kazi, Director of Culture at the Centre mentions, “We have various handicrafts in the programme: block printing; appliqué, embroidery or mirror work; blue pottery; terracotta; ceramics; puppetry; jewellery making; lacquer craft; leather craft and stone art. We have tried to cover the entire Rajasthan including Rajasthani plays and kavi sammelans that have never been covered before.”

Beyond the obvious
“It is the Nehruvian idea of showcasing our art and culture in their entirety,” he surmises. The highlight includes 16 sculptors coming together for the festival where 11 are from Rajasthan while five hail from Maharashtra. Rege conveys that the public will be able to directly interact with artisans during their demonstrations that will represent 11 types of handicrafts.

She feels that their puppetry is unique, as it is not a cotton-stuffed doll but a puppet with strings that has a wood carved face and is clothed in various kinds of textiles. She also recommends viewing Maharashtra’s and Rajasthan’s visual arts together to better understand and compare different types of painting from miniature to more abstract. The tribal art, Mandana will also be fascinating to watch during the festival.

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