Last Sunday, hundreds of Indians and Nigerians witnessed the colourful chariot inauguration ceremony, which held as a precursor to the first-ever Festival of India coming up in Lagos later this month.
The event took place at the expansive compound of Gaurapad Charities, the official sponsor of the festival, at Maryland, Lagos.
The Festival of India’s stage will host an unprecedented kaleidoscope of internationally renowned traditional and contemporary music stars from India and Nigeria such as the multiple-award winner, Anup Jalota (Emperor of Songs), Bollywood Diva Yuvika Chaudhary, Afro hip hop star, Davido, fuji maestro, Pasuma Wonder, gospel singer, Sammie Okposo, ace flutist, Tee Mac, and female talking drummer, Ara as well as other musicians, dancers, and dramatists.
However, the three towering, beautifully decorated chariots are the central spectacle of the Festival of India, which has an inestimable impact on the minds and hearts of its countless visitors and active participants in major cities worldwide.
The tradition hails from the ancient city of Puri and has been celebrated for thousands of years. It is the grand culmination of a series of celebrations spread over the summer and monsoon months in India, and is the most splendid of them all.
Brought to the west in the 60s by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami, the chariots festivals are now celebrated annually in major cities worldwide, notably in New York, Los Angeles, London, Paris and Durban.
Founder of Gaurapad Charities and former President, Performing Musicians Association of Nigeria (PMAN), Bolaji Rosiji, who is also co-chairman of the Festival of India Organising Committee, said the festival is not only about fashion, jewellery, culture and Bollywood, but also a platform to forge diplomatic, cultural and commercial ties with the world’s fastest growing economy – India.
“There is a higher purpose. We are using the festival platform to forge diplomatic, cultural and commercial ties with the world’s fastest growing economy – India,” he stated.
Mr Diwesh Mishra, co-chairman of the Festival Organizing Committee, said the festival would include a colourful display of various Indian costumes, dressing and dance groups representing different states in India as well as cultural groups from Nigeria.
“This is in line with the overriding goal of the festival which is ‘celebrating cultural unity and diversity for national and global peace’ – vasudhaiva kutumbakam, meaning, the world is one family, ” he stressed.