|Suraj Nowlakha posted this in facebook||7:01pm Jan 13|
The first heritage festival in Murshidabad, “Resurgence - Murshidabad Heritage Festival 2011” (MHF) was organized by the Tourism Department of Govt. of West Bengal in association with Murshidabad Heritage Development Society, and with the support of Crafts Council of West Bengal, West Bengal Kayaking & Canoeing Association, Union Ministry of Culture, Art of Living Foundation and others in Azimganj, Jiaganj and Lalbagh-Nashipur on 17 & 18 December, 2011. A gathering of 3000 invitees enjoyed the two-day festival. A detailed report follows.
The love of food, especially all things sweet and spicy, is an apt description of the Sheherwali (The Jains of Murshidabad are known as the Sheherwali community) cuisine. There was a wide spread of delicacies over the 2 days, right from Breakfast to Dinner. Each meal was clearly thought out to give people an experience of this refined vegetarian cuisine. The flavour and aroma of the food titillated the palate of all and has drawn a huge fan-following.
People showed a keen interest for the recipes of various dishes and were thrilled when the Sheherwali Cuisine Recipe book was released at the festival.
The lady members of the Sheherwali Community of Azimganj & Jiaganj took immense pride and initiative in setting up food stalls of popular dishes at the Katgola grounds. This first initiative, in a cooperative spirit was a lot of fun and the demand from the visitors has made them yearn for the next festival.
Boat Race on River Bhagirathi
The local boatmen decorated their boats colourfully and competed in an exciting race. The gusto for competing was provided by the rhythm of the dhakis in each boat. The improvised-kayak race added to the gaiety. The Marshalls were in Kayaks taken from Kolkata for the race. People took a break from their daily chores to cheer their favourite teams from the especially-decorated boats, the party boat from Kolkata, and from the river banks. The boatmen were delighted to receive prizes and certificates at the Prize Distribution Ceremony, This romance on the river has enthused people to aspire for a Boat Club and a training centre in Azimganj
The cultural programme on both days was set in the backdrop of the recently-restored magnificent Katgola Palace. On Day One, Priti Patel & troupe’s spectacular Manipuri dance performance with Vedic chants, called “Agni” left the gathering spell-bound. The show blended Vedic slokas, poise and grace with feisty martial arts.
On Day 2, the sufi quawali by Haidar Buksh and group of Lucknow was appreciated by all. The local folk dance on the second day was a delight. The fireworks display as the grand finale dazzled the large gathering.
Competition for the Youth
To make the youth conscious of heritage preservation, several competitions and activities were organized. Heritage-themed quiz, painting & photography competitions were conducted for students. This evoked a large participation from across the region.
Crafts Council of West Bengal organized a crafts bazaar comprising of Indian handicrafts. The bazaar offered a wide variety of products – right from Handloom Saris and Kashmiri shawls to woven mats and bangles.
The local folk performers entertained the large gathering with acrobatic stunts, dance, music and drama.
Puja and Jain Temple Visits
A key attraction of the 2 day festival was visits to the 12 old and beautiful Jain temples in the twin-town. The puja at Lord Adinath’s temple in Katgola was specially uplifting. A large number of visitors regaled in the energy created.
The restoration work of several old monuments and properties has drawn good appreciation. The arrangements made by the travel agents for the many outstation participants received good approval.
While visitors from California, New York, Tokyo, Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Gujarat, Kolkata and nearby districts enjoyed the festival, several local Unions and Bodies have still to catch the uplifting spirit. This spirit alone can lead to the socio-economic development of Bengal.
Many members took up strategic responsibilities. The entire Governing Body boldly faced the challenges of such a grand function, put up in association with so many Government departments and other bodies. Government machinery worked overtime for a smooth festival. The Convenor, Sanjay Doogar supported by the Committee, co-ordinated a spectacular program.
Indian Heritage – Jai Ho!
Murshidabad Heritage Development Society
Jyoti Kothari (N.B. Jyoti Kothari is proprietor of Vardhaman Gems, Jaipur, representing Centuries Old Tradition of Excellence in Gems and Jewelry. He is a Non-resident Azimganjite.)