Engagement through culture, a theme for PBD

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The recent regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2013, which had more than 500 delegates in attendance, had a series of interesting lectures and discussions. Shveata Chandel Singh does a round-up.

With more than 500 delegates from around the world, the recent regional Pravasi Bharatiya Divas 2013 was a success to say the least. The Overseas Indians meet and greet was peppered with lectures, discussions and entertainment.

One of the highlights of the PBD was Sydney-based actress Aishveryaa Nidhi’s speech on ‘Engagement through culture’.
An apt topic for Aishveryaa or Aish, a well-respected actress, and almost always the first choice of Sydney Theatre Company, Short and Sweet Festival and Opera Australia, when they are looking for Indian talent. The artistic director of Abhinay School of Performing Arts Inc, Aish is the only Indian Australian actor to be nominated for the Best Actress Award in Short+Sweet , Sydney (the biggest festival of 10-minute plays in the world), for her powerful performance in Mandragora, written by David Sharpe and directed by Lisa Eismen in 2009.

Another interesting speaker at the event, Anthony Stell, the artistic director of five Adelaide Festivals and three in Sydney, as well as founding director of festivals in Singapore, Canberra and Brisbane, gave the keynote address.

Alao Jason Chandler, a graduate of Ayurvedic Medicine (India), graduate of Tibetan Medicine (Tibet), Natural Therapies (Australia, Japan, USA), a graduate Cert IV Ayurvedic Lifestyle Consultation and graduate Advanced Diploma of Ayurveda (Australia), spoke on the healing powers of Ayurveda.

Mr Chandler’s speech was followed by a lecture on Vedanta by Swami Sridharananda, president of Vedanta Centre. He joined the Ramakrishna Order in November 1947, received his initiation from Swami Virajananda Maharaj, the 6th President of the Ramakrishna Order, and then headed the Lucknow Centre for 46 years, before coming in to Sydney to establish the Ramakrishna Order in Australia.

The evening’s Bharatnatyam classical dance performance by Aruna Gandhi left the audience spellbound. Aruna began her performance with an extract from ‘Story of Dharawal’ themed on the life, culture and art of the Aboriginal people of the Dharawal region in Sydney, in a cross-cultural collaboration of Bharatanatyam, English voice-over and Carnatic music.

The PBD also saw a Hindustani classical music recital by Rahul Bhattacharya on the sarod from Melbourne accompanied by Akhtar Hassan from India.

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