Discover India’s cultural spirit

2009-08-21 00:00

“NOW in its third year, this is the largest festival hosted by India in South Africa,” says Harsh Shringla, consul general of India in Durban. “This is not just an outreach to South Africans of Indian origin — South Africa is a heterogeneous society and we want to reach the whole community.”

Shringla said that contact between India and South Africa had been severed during the years of apartheid. “Fifty years was a long time to sever such linkages, now there is a need to make that time up. India is not the same as it was in 1947. This festival is about enabling a better understanding of what modern India represents.”


“PAINTED Narratives From India: Preserving History through the Art of Storytelling” will run from September 1 to 15 at the Durban Art Gallery. According to the exhibition’s curator, Anjana Somany, the oral tradition has been the preferred medium of transmission and preservation of knowledge and history in India. “What was ‘heard’ found expression predominantly as visual art and could be painted, stitched, woven, embroidered or sculpted.”

Folk, Buddhist, Jain, Hindu and Islamic narratives were illustrated on cave walls, handmade paper, palm leaves and canvas.

The exhibition is divided into sections following a timeline that shows the development of the narrative painting tradition in India from the Stone Age to modern times, with stop-offs along the way at the Harappan Civilization and the ancient city of Mohenjodaro that flourished in 2700 BCE; the Vedic Age (1300 to 500 BCE) and the age of the Mauryan Kings.


Wazwan — Cuisine from Kashmir

THE history of modern Kashmiri cuisine can be traced back to the 15th-century invasion of India by Timur, and the migration of skilled cooks from Samarkand to the valley of Kashmir. The descendants of these cooks, the Wazas, are the master chefs of Kashmir. The ultimate formal banquet in Kashmir is the royal Wazwan. Of its 36 courses, between 15 and 30 can be preparations of meat. Seven dishes are a must on this elaborate menu — Rista, Rogan Josh, Tabak Maaz, Daniwal Korma, Aab Gosht, Marchwangan Korma and Gushtaba.

The Chefs

Gurpreet Singh Gehdu has a three-year diploma in hotel management from IHM-Bhopal and a certificate course in advanced food hygiene from Dubai. He joined Old World Hospitality as a sous chef in 2007 and is currently working as chef de cuisine. He has worked with Asha’s in Dubai as chef de partie/sous chef and earlier with The Park Hotel & Nirulas as management trainee.

Sheikh Imtiaz Khan has a BSc in hospitality, and a BCom from Delhi University. He has worked as a sous chef since 2008 at Radisson Hotel, Varanasi, and The Oberoi — New Delhi. He is currently working at Old World Hospitality.

Sample the wares at Upper Deck, uShaka Marine World, from August 29 to September 4. Bookings 031 328 8067.

Sarpagati: Way Of The Serpent

SARPAGATI: Way Of The Serpent from the Daksha Sheth Dance Company is a dance-theatre work that has been described as “circus ballet” and has become a landmark in contemporary Indian dance. Inspired by the significance of snake worship in Indian culture, “Sarpagati” draws upon rituals, myth and symbolism associated with the snake. In popular belief, the snake is associated with wealth, fertility and power. In tantric symbolism, the snake represents the primal creative energy or Kundalini which lies dormant in the base of the spine, which, when aroused, ascends and activates the chakras of the subtle body. “The Way of the Serpent” specifically refers to the manifestation of this energy within the context of the lower three chakras, symbolised as the elements of earth, water and fire. Earth represents the drive for material accumulation. Water represents sensuality, the drive to procreate. Fire represents power, the drive to ensure survival by domination. The Daksha Sheth Dance Company is run by Sheth and her husband Devissaro, and has won international acclaim for its dance-theatre productions that combine a strongly physical and vibrant dance language, which bridges the divide between traditional and contemporary dance forms.

Sarpagati: Way Of The Serpent will be performed 7.30 pm on September 11 and 12 at the Durban Playhouse.


Shabana Azmi — Film Retrospective & In Conversation

Shabana Azmi (left), award-winning star of Arth, Khandhar, Paar and Godmother, has performed in over 100 Hindi films. She has appeared in several international productions including Madame Sousatzka, Bengali Night, and City of Joy. Azmi will be “in conversation” in Durban at the Suncoast Casino on September 22. The retrospective runs from September 18 to 24 at the Nu Metro Cinemas at The Pavilion. Tickets at Computicket.


A WELLBEING retreat, which includes Ayurveda, meditations and yoga with international instructors, performances by international artistes, nature walks and entertainment is running on the weekend of September 11 to 13 at Alpine Heath Resort in the northern Drakensberg. The package (two nights, three days) starts from R775 per person per night (minimum six people per chalet).

• For more information on the Shared History Festival: and


JONTY Rhodes and Indian author Ramachandra Guha will be discussing the art of writing about cricket in one of the events in “Words on Water — India and South Africa in Conversation” on September 14 and 15 at the Durban University of Technology.

Amit Chaudhuri has been described by the Guardian as “one of the leading novelists of his generation”. His latest book is The Immortals.

Arshia Sattar’s translations from Sanskrit of tales from the Kathasaritsagara and the Valmiki Ramayana have been published by Penguin.

Ramachandra Guha is a historian and writer based in Bangalore. His recent India after Gandhi was chosen as a book of the year by the Economist, the Wall Street Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Outlook.

Shobhaa De’s book, Spouse — The Truth about Marriage, was a phenomenon in India. Other titles are Socialite Evenings, Starry Nights, Sultry Days, Second Thoughts, Bollywood Nights and Superstar India.

Writers participating are Aziz Hassim, Ronnie Govender, Victor Dlamini, Fiona Khan, Prabashini Moodley, Betty Govinden and cartoonist Nanda Soobben.


Pandit Hari Parasad Chaurasia

SOUND of the Bamboo Flute features Pandit Hari Parasad Chaurasia in concert on October 1 at 7.30 pm, Durban City Hall. He will perform a selection of Ragas and a new work created in collaboration with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

Chaurasia is a master of the North Indian bamboo flute and has played to international acclaim. He has shared the stage with such artists as Pandit Jasraj, Smt Kishori Amonkar, Ustad Zakir Hussain and John McLaughlin, Jan Garbarek, Larry Corryell and Egberto Gismonti. He teaches in Mumbai at his Gurukul Vrindavan and at the Rotterdam Music Conservatorium, Germany. Tickets at Computicket.

Susheela Raman and Sam Mills

World music fans will need no introduction to who will be playing in Pietermaritzbu­rg on September 8 at 7 pm at the Golden Horse Casino. Tamil Londoner Susheela Raman is as at home with South Indian classical as she is with Jimi Hendrix and Fela Kuti, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Aretha Franklin. As a composer, arranger and interpreter, she has forged her own sound that can be heard on her Salt Rain, Love Trap and Music for Crocodiles. Her latest album 33 1/3, recorded with collaborators Sam Mills, Vincent Segal and Aref Durvesh, features reinterpretations of songs by Velvet Underground, Bob Dylan, Captain Beefheart and Joy Division. Tickets at Computicket.

Above: Performers in ‘Shree’ from the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble.


SHREE comes from the Nrityagram Dance Ensemble which specialises in dances based on religious themes showcasing a form of dance known as Odissi which is characterised by sensuousness and lyricism. With movements that reflect the motifs of temple sculpture, it captures drum rhythms, melodies, as well as the poetic meaning of songs taken from the vast canon of Oriya music. There is evidence that Odissi was performed in Orissa as far back as the second century BC — a sacred ritual dedicated to the gods — making it one of the oldest dance traditions in the world.

The Nrityagram Dance Ensemble is one of the foremost dance companies of India and has performed all over India, North America, Europe, the Middle East and the Far East. A new work Pratima: Reflection has been commissioned by the Joyce Theater’s Stephen and Cathy Weinroth Fund for performance in New York. Shree will be performed on September 17 at 7.30 pm at the Durban Playhouse. Tickets at Computicket.


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