Differently-abled and mentally-challenged artistes as well as those specialising in performing arts will highlight the diversity and richness of Indian culture at a six-day youth festival starting at Connaught Place Central Park here this Tuesday.

Guru Syed Sallauddin Pasha, who runs Ability Unlimited in East Delhi, says he has been conducting rehearsals for the past one month for all his artistes. “In my dance-theatre group we are training 150 differently-abled artistes in natya shiksha theatre techniques. We want to demonstrate that even the physically and mentally challenged have the ability to overcome all obstacles in life. With their performances they will prove that they are second to none. We have been performing regularly at the festival over the years. This year we will present the Bhagwad Gita on wheelchairs and Sufi performances. Hearing-impaired girls will present two performances.”

The group will present a combination of acrobats, dance and music. Pasha feels such events give a platform to special artistes who in turn encourage others like them to follow in their footsteps. “Through our performances we will motivate differently-abled people to come up in life and become a part of the national mainstream,” says the Bangalore-born choreographer whose group is performing for the third time at this annual festival.

Organised by the Delhi Government’s Department of Art, Culture & Languages and Sindhi Academy in association with the New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the cultural extravaganza will be an amalgam of classical and contemporary dance forms, performances by rock bands and a puppet show.

The celebration includes live performances like a Bharatanatyam recital by Yamini Krishnamurti’s disciples and Saroja Vaidyanathan’s disciples, Kuchipudi dance performance by Meenu Thakur’s disciples and Mohiniattam by Jaya Prabha Menon’s disciples.

Also on the cards are energetic and temperature-raising musical shows by Hindi rock bands like Samarpan, Astitva Band, The Humble Mystic and Dreamers.

Astitive Band’s guitarist Zaman Khan says the Delhi Anthem will celebrate the Old Wall Delhi’s vibrant culture and traditions and its famous cuisine. “The anthem, which was played before the Chief Minister in March this year, will also celebrate Delhi’s uniqueness in different forms. People of all faiths happily co-exist here,” adds Zaman.“At a time when Indian classical dance forms are overshadowed and are declining, the festival will give a fillip to classical dance forms,” says Guru Rajendra Gangani, Kathak dance performer.

There will also be colourful puppet and laser shows during and after the performances

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