Alliance Francaise paint the town red with unusual pageant

The trombone and the bugle struck a high note of fanfare. But the music piped up by the French brass band suddenly gave way to piercing whistles and thumping of the dappan kuthu.

Masked women and kids with painted faces sashayed down the road. But behind them came dancers bearing karagams atop their heads.

The White Town was awash with an unusual mix of Indian and French traditions as the Alliance Francaise Pondichery celebrated 125 years of its existence in Puducherry. The Alliance Francaise de Pondicherry was the oldest in India and Asia and among the first in the world.

On Friday evening, an interesting melange of costumes and cultural performances went around the streets, renting the atmosphere with music, dance, and colour. The street pageant represented the traditions of both India and France. The pageant was led by a group of Indian and French kids waving flags of both nations. Children from Annai Velangani orphanage and Santhosha Nanban walked down the road sporting colourful costumes and gaily painted faces. Students of the Alliance dressed in red tees trailed behind them, executing impromptu dance steps. They were accompanied by staff, including director Fabrice Mongiat.

The procession which started at the French Consulate ended with a free concert outside Maison Colombani.

Officials from the Department of Tourism and French consulate, flagged off the pageant. Graffiti adorned the walls of the sea-facing Maison Colombani, denoting culture and education, two aspects that the institution has been associated with for more than a century.

Imperial Kikiristan, a group of street musicians, punk singer and bassist Fantazio, singers Paul Jacob and Kavitha Gopi, piped up the music for the parade.

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