4 Mar :c The three-week long India festival – ‘Maximum India’ kicked off at the prestigious Kennedy Center in Washington with a glittering ceremony attended by who’s who of the US capital and eminent Indian Americans.
Author Suketu Mehta in an opening address talked of the flow of ideas between India and the US that had influenced each other at important moments in their history – from Thoreau to Mahatma Gandhi to Martin Luther King.
The festival, from March 1st to 20th, showcases the rich, cultural and diverse performing arts of India.
Addressing the gathering, Indian Ambassador to the US Meera Shankar described India as “a confluence of civilisations with diversity and tolerance as its hallmarks.”
She said the economic transformation, which India is currently undergoing, has also led to enormous creative ferment which is finding reflection in literature, dance, music, theatre, cinema and the arts.
Shankar also said that shared democratic values and increasingly convergent interests have guided India and the United States in forging a global Strategic Partnership for the 21st century.
She emphasised the vital role of cultural exchanges and connections between people in nourishing the partnership.
The envoy, quoting Mahatma Gandhi, said, “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.”
She thanked the Kennedy Center for their hard work over the past several years in developing this festival, the ICCR, for supporting this festival and all the Indian artists who would over the course of the next 20 days provide a window into India’s soul.
Michael Kaiser, President of the Kennedy Center, said “India amazes with the majesty and mystery of its culture.Its brilliance is that it is a country of extremes – intellect, innovation, survival, and experimentation. India offers the maximum.”