Saturday, October 2, 2010

Soorya Festival

The Soorya Festival, which holds the record forthe longest arts and music festival, is going on in Trivandrum. This year, the festival will last111 days. More than 1,500 artistes from across the country are expected to perform during this festival. Film buffs and lovers of the artswould be treated to a potpourri of films, videos,painting, dance and music, plays, religious discourses, chamber concerts, elocution and poetry and story telling over the course of thefestival.The dance and music festival will take off with a concert by K.J. Yesudas on October 1. The 10-day event will feature Odissi, Bharathanatyam,Carnatic music, Kathak, fusion and danceballet by Padma Subramaniam, RajendraGangani, Lakshmi Gopalaswamy, Neyveli Santhanagopalam and Sanjay Subramaniam.Besides being the longest festival, Soorya willalso set a new record of sorts this year. It willbe for the 33rd consecutive year that vocalistYesudas and danseuse Padma Subramaniam will be participating in the Soorya festival.The festival will end on January 10, 2011, witha stage show titled ‘Dwayam’.The festival is organized by ‘Soorya Stage and FilmSociety’ founded by Soorya Krishnamoorthy.Mr Krishnamoorthy was a scientist, workingwith VSSC. He resigned his job to pursue hisinterests in Arts and went on to create historyin the field of arts.It is really amazing to know that whileconducting the world’s longest arts and musicfestival for the past 35 years, Soorya is still a non profit making, non commercial, voluntary organisation with no office building or paidstaff anywhere in the world


It was a bright Sunday morning in Sriharikota & I found myself twisting and turning in my bed, shielding my eyes from the morning sun. It was only ten past eight, but my stomach was already growling . As I toddled off to the canteen, I found my friends excitedly talking about a Dargah nearby at place called Venad, about A. R. Rahman & his sojourns to this place.
It was my turn to get excited. My plan for the day was perspicuous in an instant. Visit to the Dargah became top priority. I learned from our seasoned SHAR drivers that Venad is a one hour drive from Sriharikota. We, a team of three set off to discover the place with a faith and anxiety never experienced before.
It was our maiden visit to a Dargah. Many people are unaware that a Dargah is the grave of a revered Sufi Saint. Sufism, the religion the saint preached & practiced is interesting. Sufism on contrary to Islam, emphasizes on mysticism wherein people believe that it is possible to achieve the highest state of enlightenment in this life itself.
This Dargah is frequented by A. R. Rahman once a year during the ‘Urs’ festival. The Dargah is patronized by the music maestro, who funds for the infrastructure as well as the festivals held there. Interestingly, these Dargah’s are considered the breeding grounds for music genres such as the ‘Qawwali’ & ‘Kafi’, widely believed to be the inspiration behind songs like ‘Khwaja mere Khwaja’ in the movie ‘Jodhaa Akbar’.
On reaching the Dargah, we were welcomed by a Sufi priest, a man with a green turban, an overflowing beard & a long golden stick adorned with peacock feathers. After the reception the priest soon set off to perform his regular rituals where in he blesses the devotees in return for local produce of grains & corn. As the devotees sat in for the prayer, we went around to have a look at a rather long Dargah. It was decorated with precious clothes in green and yellow with a tree at one end and a fence thereafter. A large array of padlocks across the fence caught our attention. Later, the priest explained that these padlocks are put up by devotees as protection against ‘jinnats’ and would be removed soon after they found solution for their adversities.
This Dargah has an interesting legend. It is said that the Sufi saint visited this place in 1414 A.D. with his sister, to preach Sufism across the shores of Andhra. The Sufi saint was lovingly called Baba by the villagers. The legend has that one day, the Baba told a group of children playing nearby to bury him in a pit that he had dug by himself. The children after doing so, were extremely worried and informed the elders. The elders immediately started digging for the Baba, only to find him moving deeper and deeper into the pit. As the elders dug up to the tree still situated in the Dargah, they heard a voice from above instructing them to leave the Baba alone. It is still believed that the Baba is alive and answers prayers of his devotees.
The Dargah seemed so calm and quiet, far from the din of the city that it brought an immediate tranquility to our mind. Even today the Dargah stands as an aide-mem’oire preaching oneness to all who visit here. It was noon by the time we bid adieu to this place.

close to the heavens

This fleeeting moment revealing the Kanchenjunga in its full glory was captured in the early morning through the hotel window from Darjeeling.
The clouds obscure the mountains, the mountains stop the wind and the wind move the clouds. Eternal and relentless, there seemed to be a complex interplay of forces of nature, unfolding before the photographer’s eyes.


Common Wealth Games (CWG), formerly known as British Empire Games, were first held in 1930
in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Since 1978 they are known as Commonwealth Games. The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has 71 member nations and territories called Commonwealth Games Associations (CGAs) which include India. The three core values of CWG movement are Humanity, Equality and Destiny.

Queen’s Baton Relay is a very important tradition of CWG. It started in 1958 in Cardiff, Wales. The relay starts with a ceremony at Buckingham Palace where Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II hands over the baton with her message to the players to the first relay runner and relay ends at the opening ceremony of the games. This time competitions will be held in seventeen sports.
The logo of the Delhi CWG is inspired by the chakra symbol of freedom, unity and power. The upward spiral depicts India’s growth into proud and vibrant nation powered by the coming together of her over a billion people. The tagline “Come out and Play” as an invitation to all to let go of themselves and participate in the Games to the best of their abilities, in the true spirit of the Games.

Shera, the Games mascot represents the modern Indian. He as an achiever with a positive attitude, a global citizen but justifiably proud of nation’s ancient heritage, a fierce competitor but with integrity and honesty. Shera as also a ‘large-hearted gentlemen’ who loves making friends.

New in 2010
  • Wrestling is returning to the games after a gap of eight years with 64 medals.
  • Archery will be held only 2nd time in the history of CWG where India can hope much because of her last performances at different events. 24 medals will be at stake.
  • Tennis is making its debut in the CWG. There are 5 golds at stake in this competition.
India’s Chances
In Badminton World No 2 Saina Nehwal has raised a lot of hopes with Chetan Anand and P.Kashyap are medal prospects in men’s section. In squash India has good chance of bagging a medal or two with S.Ghospal in good form and young Deepika doing well in the women’s section. Table tennis was a big surprise in Melbourne where Sharat A Kamal emerged as champion.

Indirect Benefits
It is always a matter of debates “Whether a developing country can afford the expenditure for such mega event”. The truth is that it usually only when a mega event comes around that any city gets its sporting and civic infrastructure upgraded. It has been the case in many other cities, ranging from Barcelona to Atlanta to Sydney and Athens and latest being Beijing. Melbourne (2006) and before that Manchester (2002) and Kuala Lumpur benefited a great deal from Commonwealth Games, as did Asian Games host Doha(2006), Busan, Korea (2002), Bangkok (1998).
There is no denying that mega events cause great deal of discomfort when facilities are built, and cost overruns can have an impact on local economy. But we also have to see other side of coin. 1982 Asian Games brought about four new flyovers, three new five star hotels besides the Siri Fort Sports Complex and Asian Games Village, and above all, Colour TV, we can hope similarly 2010 Commonwealth Games will bring with it many positives. It is all about how we are seeing the things.
Take this as an opportunity to show the world that we are on the right track of Vision 2020. Let’s come together and cheer all our sports persons participating in this mega event and make them fill that we are with them.