India: 75 Years of Independence

To celebrate 75 years of independence, H.E. Jaideep Mazumdar, the Ambassador of India, invited to a reception at Großer Festsaal at the University of Vienna.

To mark this momentous occasion, Indian Prime Minister, Hon’ble Shri Narendra Modi has envisioned what he termed Azadi Ka Amrit Mohatsav. This initiative of the Government of India is going to be a year-long festival celebrating the unique, contrasting, open and diverse nature of India, blending the well nurtured ancient Indian art and culture with the modernity that present day India represents. On this occasion of the 75th Independence Day of India, a cross-section of Viennese society including senior government officials, members of the diplomatic corps and Indian diaspora gathered together to experience a grand food and cultural extravaganza organized by the Embassy of India, Vienna at the University of Vienna on the 16th of August to mark the launch of these year-long festivities in Austria.

To provide a wholesome experience of what India represents, the cultural performances were preceded by a food festival, bringing to Vienna the delightful and famous street food of India. From paneer and chicken tikkas, to pakoras, to chat, to vadas the attendees relished the lip smacking food which, needless to say, was a complete visual delight as well.

The culinary delight was followed by scintillating musical and dance performances, starting with students of Dr. Radha Anjali, one of the foremost Bharatnatyam exponents in Vienna, performing Ganpati Kautuvam, a dance in praise of the Hindu God Ganesha. The students continued with performing a Jaitswaram, a pure dance form without abhinaya or enactments.

The next performance lined up was by the award winning Bharatnayam dancer Ms. Bhakti Devi who danced on a famous bhajan on Krishna and then in praise of Lord Vishnu.  Her piece was an exemplary demonstration of precision, with exquisite and graceful movements of hands and eyes and powerful expressions.

As the enthralling dances uplifted the spirits and set in a festive mood, to satiate the soul, there were spellbinding musical performances too, beginning with a mellifluous and soulful rendition of the famous Indian patriotic song, Saare Jahahn se Accha by the noted Vienna-based Sitar player and teacher, Alokesh Chandra who was accompanied by his students. This was followed by a performance of a traditional evening classical music raga “Kirwani”.

 Next was a vocal performance by Haider Khan accompanied by Mangesh on flute continued enchanting the audience. It was followed by a solo recital of Tabla, a pair of Indian hand drums, by the students of celebrated tabla player Shri Haider Khan, who accompanied them with a Lehra– a repetitive melody used to accompany Indian percussion instruments like Tabla and Pakhawaj

The finale performance was a brilliant tabla and vocals recital by Haider in duet with the melodious flute of Mangesh Sonawane, was a great example of musicians playing off each other with complete improvisation in evident joy and complete harmony.

The mesmerizing performances captivated the audiences and were more than deserving of the resounding round of applause the appreciative audience gave them. A very noteworthy aspect of the performances was the fact that the teachers and the students came from different parts of India and Europe, united by their love for Indian music and dance.

A day earlier, on the 15th of August, the Indian Embassy marked the Independence Day Celebrations at the India House, in Währing, Vienna with over 300 people from different walks of life, including Indians and friends of India in attendance. The event began with flag hoisting by H.E Ambassador Jaideep Mazumdar, followed by singing of the national anthem. The Embassy officials and their children also put together musical performances of patriotic Indian songs.

Photos: SOCIETY/Pobaschnig