Celebrating India’s rich cultural heritage
The culture ministry, through the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav, showcases the 3Cs of India’s heritage — culture, craft, and cuisine, reinforcing the cherished goal of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat
Over the last weekend, Indians across the world celebrated Holi with their families and communities. After two years of lockdown, social distancing, and various Covid-19 protocols, the festival provided an avenue for celebration. As I travelled through Hyderabad, I could see many happy faces with gulal on them. India’s successful vaccination programme, with more than 1.8 billion doses administered so far, contributed to the revelry as anxiety and fear over the pandemic have subsided substantially.
There is something about Indian festivals and the manner in which they seamlessly integrate elements of social cohesion, spiritual well-being, cultural heritage and economic welfare, making them a holistic and immersive experience for all. It is for these reasons that festivals make us human and connected.
Culturally, Indians enjoy traditions — the ceremonies, special dishes, and the stories and music around them. Festivals stimulate the local economy. Spiritually, festivals rejuvenate our souls and in the social context, they provide us the opportunity to connect with our families and local support systems. The imagery of being surrounded by our loved ones, enjoying culinary delicacies, and carrying forward our culture and tradition is etched into our minds every time we think of a festival. We are probably the only country in the world that has so many festivals, stemming from our heritage.
From Kashmir to Kanyakumari and from the Kutch to Kohima, a part of India celebrates some festival or the other every single day. India has over 50 major festivals and each is inspired by the practices and traditions of the local region. As a country, while some festivals such as Diwali, Dussehra, Holi, and certain harvest festivals are celebrated pan-India, most festivals have a regional flavour and are confined to a limited geographical area.
The message that our festivals convey is universal, distinguishing Indian festivals from those in the rest of the world. Our festivals are community-driven and self-sustaining, and, therefore, the role of the government in celebrating these festivals is limited. However, in a country as diverse as India, the government has a role in promoting unity and fostering a better understanding of our varied cultures and traditions.
For this purpose, the Government of India organises the Rashtriya Sanskriti Mahotsav (RSM) periodically. RSM is a national cultural festival and is the flagship event of the ministry of culture. It aims to preserve, promote, and popularise Indian heritage. RSM has played a pivotal role in taking India’s vibrant cultural diversity to the masses, instead of confining it to auditoriums and galleries.
The ministry, through this festival, has been able to successfully showcase the 3Cs of our heritage — culture, craft, and cuisine, reinforcing the cherished goal of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat (One India, Greatest India).
At the same time, folk and tribal art, dance, music, cuisines, and culture provide an effective platform for artistes and artisans to earn their livelihood. During RSM, approximately 1,000 performing artistes, culinary artistes, and craftsmen exhibit their skills and display India’s rich cultural heritage.
India’s 75th year of Independence is being celebrated under the theme of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav. Prime Minister (PM) Narendra Modi sees this as not just a celebration of past achievements, but also as an opportunity to provide a template for India’s 100th year of Independence celebrations.
The various programmes and commemorations being planned and executed until August 15, 2023, aim to instil a sense of patriotism through public participation and celebrate our unity in diversity. This celebration of our diversity creates a curiosity among citizens to visit other cultures and is a positive contributor to tourism and the communities that benefit from tourism.
In fact, we all remember PM Modi’s Independence Day speech of 2019, exhorting Indians to visit at least 15 tourist destinations within the country by 2022.
The PM felt that this would automatically lead to the development of tourism across the nation and, at the same time, encourage citizens to explore the beautiful destinations within the nation. The deep synergies and convergence between programmes such as the Dekho Apna Desh (See your country) initiative of the ministry of tourism and RSM is evident.
This year’s RSM is being hosted by the Telugu states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana between March 26 and April 3. The cities of Rajahmundry, Warangal, and Hyderabad will showcase this confluence of cultures.
The national cultural festival will not only foster a sense of brotherhood and unity, but will also act as a catalyst for fellow Indians to experience first-hand the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage India has to offer.
G Kishan Reddy is minister of culture, tourism and development of Northeastern region, and represents the Secunderabad Lok Sabha constituency The views expressed are personal