Food to titillate your tongue and vet your appetite, music and folklore to lift your spirits and a fashion show to soothe your eyes... all that would be brought for you in the first ever Saarc cultural festival, being held in the capital from Nov 30 to Dec 9.
The cultural festival of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation in the capital will be a mixture of flavours and music, foods and fashion for people to savour in this festive season.
The event will kickstart with a three-day musical show in Connaught Place in the heart of the city that will be presented by some of the best fusion bands from the eight SAARC countries.
Well-known bands such as the "Indian Ocean" of India, "Strings" of Pakistan, "Stigmata" of Sri Lanka and "Zero Degree Atoll" of Maldives etc., a total of 14 bands, including bands from Bangalore, Shillong, Assam, Mumbai and Delhi will take part in the three-day musical extravaganza.
Pavan K. Verma, director-general of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR), which is represented on the organising committee, said the most important fact is that the festival s being organised for the first time and that too in India.
"The uniqueness of this festival is that it has a range of programmes on different themes. There are nine to ten major festivals, including music, food, photography, fashion, folklore and textile etc."
"Youths from the Saarc countries will also participate in the festival. About 10 schoolchildren and three teachers and 15 university students from each country will visit India. It will be a gathering of a different kind," Verma said at a press conference here Wednesday.
Four schools of the capital - Sanskriti school, Shri Ram School, Vasant Valley school and Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, are hosting the school students from abroad, many of whom are already here.
"The foreign students will be staying with the families of the students of the host schools. This will expose them to our culture and understanding of each other," said Verma.
More than 200 artistes from the eight Saarc countries will participate in the folklore and theatre festival, which will be held Dec 5.
Whether it's the Kushan Gaan of Bangladesh, folk dances of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan or the Maldives, all will be part of the festival. A variety of classical and modern dances from India will also be showcased.
The food festival with flavours from eight countries will be brought under one roof, at the Ashok Hotel, by chefs of each of these countries Dec 6-9.
"Besides the variety, the best thing about the festival is that it is for the masses. Almost all the programmes - be it the music festival, the folklore festival or the food festival - are open for the public."
"The main aim of the festival is to enhance connectivity, ties and shared legacy of the countries. Hence without people's participation the effort will be futile," said Verma.
A special Saarc museum of textiles and handicrafts will be inaugurated Dec 7 along with a fashion show in the evening organised by the Fashion Design Council of India (FDCI).
The fashion show will have designers from the member eight countries and will showcase their designs. India will be represented by Ritu Kumar and Anamika Khanna.
Besides the cultural programmes, seminars on different topics will also be organised. Sales of handicraft and handloom products will be conducted at Pragati Maidan on Dec 20.