By PRADEEP KUMAR DWIVEDI
The grounds, foyers and the halls of Charleville were abuzz with sounds, sights and culinary delights from across the country during the two day annual festival of diversity known as India Day. It was celebrated by Officer Trainees of the 94th Foundation Course in a befitting manner on 22/23 November. This time, officers from Myanmar and Maldives also joined the celebrations with their dances and group songs. Officer trainees were divided zone-wise, based on the state of their domicile, and they were asked to present the various facets of culture and lifestyle of people in in their respective zones. Each zone was assigned a place in the Academy for decoration so as to showcase the culture of their zone. The celebration began with a curtain raiser held at Karamshila Foyer in which each region was asked to present vignettes from their region in a span of nine minutes. Starting with the North Zone Team, which chose themes like Rap culture from Delhi, Bhangra from Punjab, Pahari dances from Uttarakhand and Himachal, dresses from the vale of Kashmir and the typical ‘farm house’ wedding in NCT! The event moved to the south zone, which put up the Yakshagana and Veeragase from Karnataka, Mohiniattam from Kerala, Thappatam from Tamil Nadu and Telugu Talli from Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The event then witnessed a unique performance by visiting civil servants from Maldives and Myanmar. The East Zone chose to showcase festivals of eastern India, especially those that drew their inspiration from the Ganga and Brahmaputra. The Ganga Aarti was followed by Chhath, a popular festival from Bihar and Jharkhand, and the Namami Brahmaputra from Assam. Finally, the Ganga Sagarmela was shown as culmination of, and meeting of, both, rivers Brahmaputra and Ganga in the Bay of Bengal. The Muharram procession remembering the fight against injustice was also a salient feature of this amalgam. The West Zone, comprising the states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa and Union Territories of Daman and Diu, chose one dance each. Their performance began with the famous drum beating of Nasik and comprised Lawani, Garba, Bhagoriya, Koli besides the tribal dances of Rajasthan. The Dinner on the first day was curated by the North and West Zones at the Officers’ Mess. Jashn-e-India began with a procession by each zone starting from the Academy gate to the Director’s lawn. Officer Trainees and Faculty wore their ethnic dresses – reminiscent of the fancy dress pageants in school. The procession started with West Zone escorting the Director for the Ganapati Aarti, which was performed with aplomb. Officers also chanted the Bhajans of Vitthal by Gyaneshwar and Tukaram with a few trainees dressed in the attire of these famous saints. Madhya Pradesh culture was showcased by the Bhagoriya festival, Gangour procession and Kacchi Ghodi. Badhai dresses were also worn by some Officer Trainees. Rajasthan was represented by the Kalbelia dance and the traditional Marwari and Jodhpuri attire. Following them was North zone with Kashmiri drapes, Punjabi Bhangra, Haryanvi Dhoti and Kurta, Pahari Cap and western swag of Delhi. Then followed the East Zone, with the famous Ganga- Jamni Tehzeeb. This zone incorporated Durga Visarjan, Sindoor Khela that happens during Durga Visarjan, a Bengali marriage and Braj Holi from Uttar Pradesh, which was played with flowers. And, then, there was the Rathyatra of Jagannath from Odisha. The South Zone formed the rear guard of the procession with the folk dances Kavadi, Kunita, Bagada, Telugu Talli, Silambam, Dappu and Dolu from all five states of the South, together with the folk culture of Bhutan. After an elaborate lunch hosted by East and South Zonea at the Officers’ Mess, officer trainees started their final rehearsals before the main event in Sampoornanand, which started sharp at 6 p.m. in the presence of the Director and the officers of MCTP – Phase IV and their families. West Zone started the proceedings with a performance woven around a love story which transcends the boundaries of caste, region, language and ethnicity. Ganesh Vandana was followed by Malhari and Ghoomar. Then came the very romantic sways of Goan dance, a Garba based nuptial and, finally, a wedding song from Rajasthan. Madhya Pradesh also made its presence felt with a Badhai dance. Then came the South Zone starting with a Tamil folk mix of Kalakattam, Oliyattam and Kommi. The Telugu element was presented by a Telangana folk song. A Kerala Fusion dance, Dollu Konita, Pull Konita, Okku Dollu were presented with professional vigour! This eclectic mix of South Indian and western music received a standing ovation. The evening then moved to the East Zone. East India presented the Maring war dance of Manipur Nagas, a fusion of Kathak and Odissi from Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, UNESCO listed Chhau dance from West Bengal, Jharkhand and Odisha and Qawwali from Lucknow. India Day truly presented the ‘spirit of India’ which resides in Unity in Diversity and colours of different regions, tribes, languages but under one Tricolour. This famous couplet of Firaq summarises the essence of Hindustan! “Sar-zamin-e-hind par aqvam-e-alam ke ‘firaq’ Qafile bastey gaye Hindostâñ banta gaya” From across the world, Came many a caravan But they dropped anchor to make a complete Hindustan!