I have been regularly attending the festival since its inception in 2003. Held at the backdrop of Dhauli peace pagoda, its ambience is enchanting. The Dhauli stupa and nearby temple are lit up. The artists, dignitaries, organizers are invited on the opening evening to hold mashals, the torches aloft and to the sound of the conch, the festival is inaugurated. The ceremony is awe inspiring. It suggests cherishing the idea of love, peace, compassion and humanity. The festival is a grand celebration of harmony between history and modernity. This is the very place where after the Kalinga war, on banks of Daya River, emperor Ashoka took to Buddhism. The festival held on this spot gives signals for peace in contemporary times.
At the very outset, I would like to congratulate dancer, choreographer, guru and an organizer par excellence Aruna Mohanty for mounting such an amazing festival. A worthy disciple of late Guru Gangadhar Pradhan, she has imbibed his style admirably, runs Orissa Dance Academy, teaches there and has to her credit several large scale dance works, doing her guru proud. The first opening ‘Gita Mahatmyam’ and the final ‘Make in Odisha’ took one’s breath away. The conceptualization and flawless execution using the classical dance forms with stunning visuals and melodious music are the hallmarks of these productions.
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