March 3 (Rishikesh): The inaugural event of ‘Rishikesh Art and Film Festival (RAFF)’ was full of music, dance and culture. Orchestrated at the banks of Ganges at Shatrughan Ghat, the river provided for a picturesque background and calming sensation of the cold and holy water.
The first of its kind event was put together by the RAFF team, headed by Deja Cross and Pradumn Nagpal, with the help of Uttarakhand Tourism, Security and Intelligence Services (India) Limited, Rajaji Tiger Reserve, The Indian Public School and the Ministry of Tourism, Indonesia. The event, India-Indonesia Sanngam, aims at amalgamation of the cultures of India and Indonesia through music and dance.
The audience comprised of people from different cultures and countries including Indonesia, US, Brazil, Ukraine, Canada, Mexico, and different parts of India as well.
Among the chief guests of the event were Durga Rana, Deep Sharma, Shivmuriti Kandwal, Manoj Dwivedi, Rajendra Rana, Ranabadlav Bhatt, Kusum Joshi, Gurmukh Kaur Khalsa, Mata Vanmali, Swami Shankar Tilak Ji Maharaj, Indra Udayana, Titik Lester, Ayu Lakshmi and Ni Wayan Giri Adnyani.
On being asked about the scope of the event, Mata Vanmali said “It is a terrific blend of different cultures where both (India and Indonesia) will prosper and propel with each other.”
Donna and William Larkin, who were on a tour in Rishikesh, saw the event from the opposite bank and came to witness it. “I have never seen anything like it. The music, the dance and mother Ganges, this is all a mesmerising experience.” Donna said.
Goswami Lala Gopal Das, from Sweden, who was been residing in Rishikesh since the past twenty years came for his disciple (Sujata Ray’s) dance performance.
The theme of the event revolved around the sacred life in India.
The event started with Manoj Dwivedi giving a little insight about the RAFF and the team behind it, which was followed by a greeting and declamation by Ni Wayan Girl Adnyani from the Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia, who shed light on the unexplored panorama of Indonesia.
The chief guests were then called upon the stage to light the inaugural diya which was accompanied by Vedic hymns.
The introductory performance was by Rishikesh Got Talent winner, Sujata Ray.
Sujata, a trained classical dancer, is also a therapist, dance teacher and acro-yoga instructor. Dancing to the beats and lyrics of ‘Vande Mataram’ Sujata introduced the Indian culture through her lively performance.
The second performance of the evening was rather an unpredictable and astonishing musical session by Sumit Kumar Kutani.
Sumit, who belongs to Srinagar (Garhwal), left the audience spell bound with his ‘hang-drum’. He was later joined by a group of artists with assorted musical instruments to produce a soothing and a mesmerising Jam session.
The third act was a newfangled experience for the audience. The Indonesian Dance and Singing Group staged a never seen before traditional Indonesian dance and singing performance.
The group, lead by Indonesian actress Anjasmara comprised of three performances of story depiction. Artists dressed in traditional attires, drew in the audience and concluded with a vibrant response from the audience. The group got a standing ovation at the end of their performance.
The evening concluded with a Shiv aarti which was an experience in itself. A group of boys holding colossal diyas, which were lit up the atmosphere with positive vibrations, accompanied by other puja essentials, performed a well choreographed routine accompanied by religious chants and hymns.
The second out of the eleven events at the RAFF will be held on March 4, at Triveni Ghat at five in the evening.