ICCR Director General C Rajasekhar, Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France, dancer-choreographer Astad Deboo, Kuchipudi dancing couple Raja and Radha Reddy, Santoor player Pandit Bhajan Sopari, classical dancer Sonal Mansingh graced the occasion.
The cultural festival Namasté France inaugurated in Espace Charlie Parker, Grande Halle de La Villette, Paris with a sarod performance of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan with his sons Amaan and Ayaan Ali Bangash was accompanied by Kumudini Lakhia and her 16-member group performance.
Speaking about the event, ICCR Director General, C Rajasekhar said, “It is a festival of Indian culture. It is truly a celebration of growing friendship, partnership and cooperation between the people of India and France following directly from the directive of honourable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and President of France. It will witness the joint performance by French and Indian artists.”
The festival will be held in ten French cities like Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Bordeaux, Marseille, Nantes. French oversea territories, like Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint-Martin and Reunion, are also participating in Namasté France in order to pay homage to the splendor and diversity of Indian culture.
The germination of the idea took place when at the invitation of the President of the French Republic, Mr François Hollande, the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, had paid an official visit to France on 10-11 April 2015.
On this occasion, President Hollande and Prime Minister Modi had recalled the utmost importance of culture for the mutual understanding of their two nations. They noted the successful organization of two editions of Bonjour India, the Festival of France in India, and the first edition of Namaste France, the Festival of India in France.
“It is a festival of Indian culture. It is truly a celebration of growing friendship, partnership and cooperation between the people of India and France following directly from the directive of honourable Prime Minister, Narendra Modi and President of France. It will witness the joint performance by French and Indian artists.”
Highlighting the longstanding historical ties between France and India, Alexandre Ziegler, Ambassador of France to India, said, “France and India share a great friendship, which is reflected in our excellent bilateral relationship. But it is nowhere better illustrated than in the initiatives that bring our people closer. Namasté France is a wonderful opportunity to boost the vitality of our cultural exchanges. Culture, fashion and art are strongly related to the images of both France and India, and these areas are the best to enhance what I call a strong “partnership from the heart” between our two countries.”
Alexandre Ziegler also announced about the Bonjour India festival which will be held next year. “I am also delighted to announce that the third edition of the Bonjour India festival. Namasté France and Bonjour India will enable a whole new generation of youths in both countries to discover the common vision that they share of the world and novel ways of expressing it. France and India have shared historical and friendly ties for centuries. The French audience is a fine connoisseur of the subtleties of Indian culture, and enjoys authenticity as well as quality. We thus hope that Namasté France festival will meet the expectations of the public and that it will further reinforce the friendly relations that bind the peoples of these two countries together,” said Ziegler.
Many internationally renowned artists — including legendary dancer-choreographer Astad Deboo, renowned Kuchipudi dancing couple Raja and Radha Reddy, illustrious santoor player Pandit Bhajan Sopori, violin maestro Dr. L. Subramaniam, sarod virtuoso Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons Amaan and Ayaan, master dhrupad exponent Ustad Sayeduddin Dagar, Kuttiyatam master Sivan Namboodri, and theatre veteran Girish Karnad — will mesmerize the French audience with their immense talent. Spiritual leader Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, fashion designer Rahul Mishra and Michelin-starred chef Vineet Bhatia will also be part of the personalities who will participate in Namasté France.
“This cultural festival will also celebrate Diwali and Navratri in France, see “East marries West”-themed concerts of Odissi, Bharatanatyam and an Indo-French Kathak jugalbandi, as well as feature spiritual lectures. Performances and screenings will take place in iconic venues like La Villette, the Opéra Bastille, and the Cinémathèque Française,” shared Rajasekhar.
“Navratri Festival would be celebrated between 3 and 11 October in France with the Sujit Vndur troupe. Diwali, too, would be celebrated in Paris on 8 November with performances by Pandit Bhajan Sopori. The festival would end on 30 November 2016 with a violin performance by Dr. L Subramaniam and a Kuchipudi dance led by Raja and Radha Reddy,” Rajasekhar added.