Puducherry

Pondicherry Heritage Festival to begin on Jan. 25

Good start: Delegates addressing the media to announce the Pondicherry Heritage Festival - 2020, at the Alliance Francaise in Puducherry on Wednesday.

Good start: Delegates addressing the media to announce the Pondicherry Heritage Festival - 2020, at the Alliance Francaise in Puducherry on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: T. Singaravelou

The spotlight of the festival will be on the city’s natural heritage, specifically its wetlands and waterbodies

The sixth edition of the Pondicherry Heritage Festival (January 25 to February 12), a celebration of the heritage and culture of the former French outpost, will begin across multiple venues in the city from Saturday.

The event will combine entertainment spanning music, dance and theatre with a food festival, cycle rides, quizzes and various workshops. The festival spotlight will be on the city’s natural heritage, specifically its wetlands and waterbodies.

Host organisations

Apart from the primary triad of host organisations — People for Pondicherry's Heritage, INTACH and PondyCan — the festival is supported by an array of organisations including the Department of Tourism, the French Institute of Pondicherry and the Alliance Francaise.

The heritage festival and the ten-day Francophone festival (in March), which is also co-hosted by the Alliance Francaise, aim to showcase the city as a spiritual and cultural hub, Satish Nallam, president, Alliance Francaise told presspersons.

Both events also coincide with the pre-summer peak of tourist arrivals in the city, he added.

Originally conceived to draw attention to the city's architectural legacy, the Pondicherry Heritage Festival (PHF) over the years has enlarged its scope to embrace a spectrum of other facets of heritage such as the environment, the idyllic seasides, spiritual and intellectual histories and the interplay between indigenous and imported cultural practices.

Unlike previous editions, the PHF 2020 will have a unique opening with the staging of a theatrical event based on the life and works of Subramania Bharathi, said Sunaina Mandeen of PondyCan and a part of a team that has been conceptualising and conducting the festival.

The show, happening at the Gandhi Thidal, will draw from theatre, recitation, folk and classical dance, and videography. Performed by a 30-member cast, Bharathi Yaar?, an SB Creations production, will be akin to a theatrical showreel of the poet, who had taken refuge in the city during a crucial phase in his life. Not just as a revolutionary poet, the show will also pay tribute to the Mahakavi's relatively less celebrated aspects as an environmentalist and advocate of feminist ideals.

The field trips planned for as part of the event would seek to highlight the loss of wetlands, the man-nature relationship and would try to explore new forms of solidarity with all forms of life, said Raphael of the IFP.

The event will also host two important conversations, one on Ahmedabad's UNESCO application for world heritage stature conducted by Saswat Bandyopadhyay and Rabindra Vasavada, and the other on the heritage conservation experience by Arun Menon from IIT-Madras and a consultant for PWD Chennai.

Tours of heritage buildings, launch of a book on Puducherry, a ‘Made in Pondy’ exhibition showcasing the handicrafts of the region and a food trail to celebrate native cuisine are also part of the events.

World Wetlands Day

Activities have also been planned around World Wetlands Day on February 1 and 2, including a photography exhibition, a dedication of the Joan of Arc garden restored by the People for Pondicherry's Heritage and three cycle rides — a 5 km ride around the city, a 15-km ride to the Velrampet lake and a 50 km ride to Bahour.

A key focus area throughout the festival will be engaging children in activities to inculcate heritage consciousness and priming them to be the future standard bearers.

Lila Kernoua, director of Alliance Francaise and S. Varalakshmi, former principal, Bharathidasan Government College for Women, were among those who were present.

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2020 12:28:24 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/puducherry/pondicherry-heritage-festival-to-begin-on-jan-25/article30628737.ece

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