Festival The works of 25 artists and talented performers added sheen to Kendujhar Kala Utsav. SHYAMHARI CHAKRA
O rissa's annual cultural calendar is dotted with a large number of festivals today funded by the government and corporate agencies besides being backed by the politicians who usually use the platform for their own publicity. Against this backdrop, the annual Kendujhar Kala Utsav — a festival of visual art, performing arts and literature — being hosted at the district headquarter town of Keonjhar for the past 20 years by Samskritiki cultural society exclusively with community contribution deserves special mention.
The just concluded three-day festival featured an exhibition of art and craft showcasing works of 25 artists of the state. It included veteran painters Baladev Maharatha, Kasinath Jena and Siba Panigrahi besides works of young and acclaimed artists like Tarakant Parida, Pradosh Swain, Dharmapada Biswal and Chanan Rout apart from New Delhi-based Anup Chand and Mumbai-based Bira Kishore Patra. The exhibition had also representation of a good number of young and talented women painters — Mamata Samantaray, Lipishree Nayak, Madhumita Barik, Kumari Sonia, Sasmita Kamala, Swagatika Sethy and Stuti Samal — whose works were inspired by the issues concerning the lives of women.
The crafts section had a solo show of creative papier machie craft by Arun Kumar Ojha, who was awarded by Orissa Governor last year for his creative designs during the national crafts fair held in Bhubaneswar.
Odissi dancer Rashmi Raj, a member of the globe-trotter troupe of Bengaluru-based Nrityagram and who hails from Keonjhar district, staged a pulsating performance on the occasion. Her presentation of Mahakali choreographed by Guru Bichitrananda Swain was mesmerising. Ten budding dancers of the district also performed in the festival. Similarly, Mumbai-based singer Sabita Patra and Jyotirmaya Gadanayak — both belonging to the district — performed during the festival that featured segments for patriotic and devotional music.
The jhoti chita (traditional designs drawn exclusively by women on floors by women with fingers dipped into rice paste) competition held among women to rejuvenate the dying art practice was a major attraction of the festival. Similarly, the exclusive exhibition of one hundred Oriya literary magazines mounted by Milan Kumar Mishra, a young poet and lyricist, and a photographic exhibition of the archaeological remains of Keonjhar district were special attractions.
The concluding day of the festival featured a writers' meet and a talk on Orissa's cultural scenario by noted scholar and researcher Gouranga Charan Dash.