Monday 15 December 2014

The Sunil Kothari Column - Konark Dance Festival 2014

From 1st till 5th December, Konark wears a festive look. The road leading to Konark temple is ablaze with colourful lights, colourful umbrellas, lamp shades, trees glittering with creepers of lights and the sky shines with near full moon. Various large hoardings and display boards with digitalized enlarged images of dancers featured in this festival and previous years are mounted at various points on the walls of Yatri Niwas. The stage is a pucca built one with green rooms in the basement. The multi-tier seating open air theatre faces the impressive tower of Konark temple (now wrapped in wooden scaffoldings).
The Khajuraho Dance Festival is held against the backdrop of Chitragupta temple on a permanent stage, but the Konark Dance Festival does not have that proximity to the temple. It is essentially organized for group dances and the large sprawling stage is ideally suited for that.  This year, if I understood correctly from senior Odissi exponent Kum Kum Mohanty, it is the 25th year of Konark Dance Festival. If so, the organizers missed the celebration of its silver jubilee.

The sleepy Konark village comes to life from 1st to 5th December every year since the Department of Tourism and Culture has taken over organizing the festival. The dates are fixed and well advertised, the festival has its own website, announcements are made in the print media in advance and also on television. A festive mood prevails. The traditional tunes of Odiya songs are played on mahuri, reed instruments, accompanied by the drums, and the microphones blare filmy songs. Yatri Niwas lawns are painted green and yellow. It is the focal point as participating artists are accommodated there, and the Government officials come there for tea before going to the open air theatre. The festival starts punctually at 6pm and is telecast live on DD Bharati.  

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