Bhubaneswar: Odisha Samaj United Arab Emirates (OSUAE), the largest association of Non Resident Odias in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region in association with The Consulate General of India, Dubai and Lasyakala organised Utsav 2018 – Utkal Divas (Odisha Day) Celebrations & the 10th edition of Aekalavya (A Tribute to Guru Shishya Parampara) yesterday on the 13th of April (Friday), 2018 at Global Indian International School, Al Barsha, Dubai. A record crowd of over 500 people were a part of the celebration.
This year’s celebration acquired a special significance because of two things – It was organised in association with The Consulate General of India in Dubai and Lasyakala Foundation (a reputed dance institution in Odisha).
The day started with the lighting of the inaugural lamp. Along with an invocation to Lord Jagannath. His blessings were sought for all and for the success of the program. It was followed by a performance on the iconic Odia patriotic poem written by Kantakabi Laxmikanta Mohapatra – ‘Bande Utkala Janani’.
The Consul General of India Shri Vipul made it to the function to provide encouragement and support to the performers. He said he was always very happy to be associated with Odia functions and Odia people because of the richness of its culture.
The chief Guest at the function was Shri. Premchand, Consul (Passport, Attestation & Community Affairs & Welfare). Shri Premchand appreciated the vibrancy of the Odia Community in the UAE and said the Consulate was happy to be supportive of it.
The guests of honor were Smt. Reema Shetty Co-founder and chief executive of The Foodsters Incorporated and Sri Amol Vaidya, Director Global International Indian School.
A splendid display of the best that Odisha has to offer in terms of dance, music, handicrafts, fashion & food was showcased in the daylong event which had two parts. The morning session comprised of performances by the hugely talented local Odia children, men and women. They have been practicing for months and the final display was spellbinding. The highlights of the morning session were performances of Odia children to the tunes of popular Odia songs. A tribute to legendary Odia Bhajan Singer – Arabinda Muduli was also very emotional. Also captivating was a tribute to the Bollywood’s first Female Superstar Sridevi, who recently passed away in Dubai.
A souvenir brought out on this occasion was released by the Guests and other eminent personalities. The souvenir contains many interesting articles written by members of the Odia community of the UAE about Odisha and its personalities.
The guests were treated to a sumptuous spread of Odia dishes cooked by a Master Chef hailing from Odisha.
The afternoon hosted the 10th edition of “Aekalavya”, in collaboration with Lasyakala Foundation, An initiative by Shri Saswat Joshi, Internationally acclaimed Odissi and Sambalpuri Dancer, as a tribute to the ‘Guru-Shishya’ Parampara. Shri Saswat has travelled to Dubai with a 12 member troupe of artistes.
Aekalavya started with a magical thematic presentation of ‘Dashavatar’ by Shri Saswat Joshi, accompanied by seven of his disciples. This set the tone for the evening.
Dr. Sangita Gosain noted singer and Chief Executive of Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra Odissi Research Center, Bhubaneswar, Odisha then sang a few verses from Geeta Govinda which mesmerized the crowd.
One of the major highlights of this year’s celebrations is the first ever performance of Odissi dance Legend Padmashri Dr. Ileana Citaristi (Italy born Odissi Dancer) in the Middle East and North Africa Region. She performed Odissi based on a Meera Bhajan.
Shri Saswat then gave his masterpiece performance on ‘Vishwa Jagannath’ composed by Padmashree Prafulla Kar. Saswat’s Odissi moves against large images of Lord Jagannath being displayed on the massive LED screen in the backdrop transformed the hall into ‘Jagannath Dham’ and the audience were visibly moved, going through a spiritual experience.
The high point of the celebratory evening was the spellbinding performance by the Guru Shishya duo of Dr. Ileana Citaristi and Shri Saswat Joshi. They presented the 10 incarnations of the Mother Goddess – ‘Dashamahavidya’. The chemistry between this duo set the stage on fire and they received a standing ovation from the audience.
Ms. Anubha Sourya (film actress and Odissi dancer) also performed a solo Odissi dance. The proceedings were ably conducted by Ms. Jagruti Rath who has made a name for herself as a singer, dancer and a compere and is a well known TV personality.
“Aekalavya Samman 2018” was presented to two prominent Indian classical dance Gurus based in Dubai – Guru Nishi Singh for Kathak & Ms. Puja Unni for Bharat Natyam. Both of them performed their respective dance styles as well.
Also present on the occasion was noted dance critic Ms. Tapati Choudhurie. It was an emotional moment when Shri Saswat Joshi called his parents – Shri Pradeep Joshi and Smt. Labangalata Joshi on stage and sought their blessings.
It would not be an exaggeration to say that an extravagant display of Odia Culture mersmerized the entire United Arab Emirates. Odia culture, dance, music and food got the right exposure they deserve .Many in the audience were exposed to Odiya culture for the first time and were enthralled.
A spokesperson of the Odisha Samaj of UAE expressed his satisfaction at the conduct of the event. He said ‘It is hugely encouraging to see such a big and a responsive crowd today. We are very happy that we are able to spread the magic of Odia Culture on foreign land. We hope this effort of ours will contribute to enhanced interest in Odisha and will ultimately contribute in some way towards its development’.