The upcoming Lok Sabha elections have hampered the Himachal Pradesh government's “mega plans” to celebrate 150 years of the town, which was once the summer capital of British India.
In 1864, Viceroy John Lawrence declared Shimla the capital of British India. Post Independence, the town, also known as “the queen of hills” for its breathtaking beauty and cool weather, became the capital of Punjab, and later, of Himachal Pradesh.
The state government's language, art and culture department had announced a series of programmes to mark 150 years of the British summer capital, which began recently. The celebrations are expected to continue till January next year.
The scheduled festivities include a national-level theatre festival, mythological ballets, film festival and display by army bands.
“The calendar for the celebrations was approved much before the model code of conduct for the Lok Sabha elections came into force. The department will require the Election Commission's approval to issue advertisements for the main events, which are scheduled to be held in April and May,” language, art and culture principal secretary Upma Chaudhary told HT.
“The meeting, held in February, was attended by the representatives of the municipal corporation and district administration,” she said.
A national-level theatre festival would be held from the second week of April, coinciding with the birth anniversary of theatre personality Manohar Singh. According to the calendar, renowned theatre personalities, including Neelam Mansingh, Rattan Thiem, Naseeruddin Shah and Waman Kendre, would present plays during the festival. The National School of Drama is also expected to put up a show.
In June, a film festival would be organised in collaboration with the union ministry of information and broadcasting. The main event, based on national integration, would be held to mark Independence Day on August 15.
“So far, we have not revived any correspondence with the government on 'Shimla celebrates'. It was vibrant idea planned by the municipal corporation to celebrate 150 years of Shimla's existence,” said deputy mayor Tikender Panwar . “We will try our best to make the event a success,” he added.
A rashtriya bhakti kavi sammelan and hasya kavi sammelan are being planned, besides presentation of ballets by Ram Bharatiya Kala Kendra, Delhi.
For music lovers, the Shimla Music Festival would be held from September 21 to October 4, in collaboration with the tourism department and Punjabi Academy.