The cultural aesthetics of India, goes well beyond the movies, music, TV shows, hair extensions or News, there is more to the beauty of India and it is the fact its culture is inextricably linked to its history. My fascination with India, is one I have had, for a long time, so much so that I traveled to the country, visiting two states, in its vast geography. The cities I visited were Goa and Bangalore, I interacted with the people, binged on fresh fruits and soaked up its history.
I could not contain my excitement, when I was invited to the Independence day celebration of India in Lagos, it is organised by the Indian Cultural Association. As expected it is a colourful event imbued with India’s rich cultural heritage and I am struck by the feelings of nostalgia, I find myself once more in the carnivals of Arambol, touching the beautiful Saris and jewelry by persuasive merchants.
India first got her Independence 15th of August 1947, 70 years later, a nation embroiled in such bloody battles to attain independence and economic ineffectuality, has gone full circle, to not just a self sufficient nation, to become one of the largest importers of goods and services in the world.
What struck me about the dance performances is the fact that they were performed by children of all ages, apparently this is deliberate, according to the president of the Indian Cultural Association (ICA), Mr. Jain Sanjay, to ensure that children born far away or living far away from home are grounded in the rich culture and history of the people.The Indian Cultural Association, has no other branches of its kind in other parts of the world, except Nigeria, established 50 years ago, it is also involved in several charitable projects, in health, education, community service et cetera.
The ceremony is segmented into four parts, cultural dance performances by the children, beauty pageants for married Indian women, woman and child walk and a singing competition. The costuming of the child dancers is glamourous and colourful, infused with vibrance.
Another interesting thing about the ceremony is the collaboration of Indian and Nigerian dancers in the performance called the Orisi, I was captivated by the performance and the seamless display by these dancers of divergent cultural heritages, creating something flawless and beautiful.
I found the mother and child walk quite uplifting and edifying, with women and children, holding banners such as ‘Empower women, empower the nation’. Disabusing us of the notion that women in India are not respected, clearly that is not so. The Indian community, is not discriminatory of attendees in this beautiful events as Nigerians who have invitations are welcomed and enjoy the lovely performances.
Indeed there is more to India than the TV shows, movies, News and hair extensions, it is the people, the history and its persevering culture.
Photo credit: King Solomon Ekhaiyeme