As India celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav — the 75th year as an independent nation — culture played a leading role in the Republic Day parade.
The Parade, held under the aegis of the Ministry of Defence every year, also had the active participation of the Ministry of Culture this time. As the nodal ministry for Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it organised Vande Bharatam in collaboration with the MoD as a countrywide dance competition, the winners of which got to perform at Rajpath as part of the main parade.
The Vande Bharatam Nritya Utsav saw participation in four categories: classical, folk, tribal and fusion/contemporary. A total of 480 dancers were selected from 3,870 in the all-India dance competition. The musical piece for the 12-minute performance was composed by Grammy Award-winning musician Ricky Kej, in collaboration with Oscar contender tabla player Bickram Ghosh.
The performers were trained by four renowned choreographers, the Ministry of Culture said. These include Kathak dancer Rani Khanam, along with Maiyetree Pahari, Tejaswini Sathe, and Santosh Nair, who trained 36 teams of dancers from different states.
In an open gallery on either side of Rajpath, the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA) showcased gigantic scrolls, each more than 750 metres long, painted by over 500 artists from across India. “The idea was to celebrate the unsung heroes, many of whom we have forgotten or don’t know much about,” said Adwaita Gadanayak, Director General of the NGMA.
Largely painted during art camps held over the last few months in Odisha and Chandigarh, apart from portraits and figurative narratives, the scrolls also reflect traditional art genres such as Pattachitra, Talapatra Chitra, Manjusha, Madhubani and Patua.
The scrolls also refer to the artwork in the Constitution, with margins on the panels inspired by the artwork of Nandalal Bose and his associates, who illustrated the handcrafted document. Culture Secretary Govind Mohan said that the scrolls will be taken to different parts of the country and exhibited there as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.
The Ministry of Culture’s float is also a sign of things to come. As the country celebrated Subhas Chandra Bose’s 125th birth anniversary between January 23, 2021 and January 23, 2022, the Ministry’s float last year was dedicated to Bose. This year, as a 53-member committee was formed under Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently to mark Aurobindo’s 150th birth anniversary, the Ministry’s float was dedicated to the life and times of the spiritual leader.