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Fairs, Festivals, Melas

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Fusion of martial arts and dance at Kalinga festival
by Sarda Lahangir

     Kalinga (Orissa): Artists presented a rare fusion of marital arts and classical dance at the Kalinga festival in Bhubaneswar. Dance troupes showcased different martial dance forms during the two-day festival that concluded on Sunday. The Kalinga festival, dedicated to the traditional Indian martial art forms, is organised annually by the Orissa Government in collaboration with Art Vision, as a medium to bring together the traditional martial art forms of India under one roof. The festival, currently in its seventh year, was held at the footsteps of the Dhauli stupa, a Japanese Buddhist Temple located on the outskirts of Bhubaneshwar. "I saw that to have a festival like this would encourage the growth and improvement and also the recognition of this form. Moreover, the Tourism Department wanted to do something here which was not yet utilized as a space for tourist attraction," said Ileana Citaristi, Secretary, Art Vision. The statue of Lord Buddha provided a background to festival spinning around the theme of "War to Peace," as it began with the outburst of movements and sounds, which accompany the performance of martial artists. Every year, the festival opens with a modern choreography based on martial art and then showcases traditional martial dance forms from different parts of the country. "We have so many brilliant traditional martial art forms such as Kalarikantha and Jhao. I think it is great that there is an attempt to bring it together for people who may or may not know much about dance and about movement arts," said Diya, one of the performers. The martial dances are an amalgamation of various martial art postures, which are blended in graceful dance forms. Performing to the beats of music with their swords, spears and shields, they enthrall audiences with their rhythm and precision of movement. Martial art forms are developed and practiced in India since ancient times. This festival is a unique outlet and a great medium to create awareness about different martial art forms amongst the masses. The festival which spins around the theme of "War to Peace," has an apt venue as it was at the Dhauli hills that the legendary Indian Emperor Ashoka the Great fought his last and most gruesome war before forsaking the battleground forever, converting to Buddhism and turning into an apostle of peace. Orissa has come to be associated with one of India's major centres for performing traditional dances. It also holds some of the biggest festivals of classical Indian dances like the Konark Dance Festival and the Puri Beach Festival, which are big tourist draws.
-Jan 13, 2009

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