PARRAMASALA 2015 – What was different this year ?
Parramasala was an initiative that came into existence 6 years ago to develop harmony and reduce the tension caused by certain attacks against Indian students in Harris Park NSW. An initiative by both Indian and Australian Governments over the years the funding has dwindled from the initial large amounts allocated.
Under the helm of Director Dr Harinath and Festival Director Di Henry however the festival has been continuing for over six years, despite doubt that there may be enough funds to organize one each year.
Today, Parramasala 2015 is a celebration of multiculturalism in Western Sydney incorporating music, dance, film and flavours with a leaning towards the South Asian and Indian due to two reasons. Firstly because there are many Indians living in this area and secondly the Indian Government and ICCR have over the years consistently shown their support in financing a strong cultural presence as part of the festival.
With over 30,000 people in attendance the three day multicultural festival provides a world rarely explored and experienced in Sydney.
Parramasala was and is supported by Parramatta City Council, Multicultural NSW, ICCR and Indian Tourism, Orb Global Finances amongst others. Parramasala presented the inaugural India Tourism Week, with the India Tourism Pavillion showcasing performer workshops, Dosa, Chai and more.
ICCR sponsored eminent artists who had travelled from India were Debapriya and Samanwaya, students of Girija Devi. They warmed hearts through their Hindustani classical vocal and sitar renditions. The Rajasthani dance group from India provided a great opportunity for the audience to learn more about their vibrant costumes jewellery dance and culture. Produced by IceWorks ‘Angika’ by Kathak Dancer Sanjukta Sinha from Gujarat provided an interesting blend of visuals created through lighting music and dance.
The Friday Night Opening Street Parade in Parramatta brought together 35 different nationalities with everyone moving to the groove of local artist and Producer Richard Petkovic, sung by Shohrat Tursun Trio in “Mida Wawasi (means Welcome)” song.
The parade lead by the NSW Police Band was followed by many different cultural groups. Of interest were the White and Pink Sarees in the Parade. Branding themselves as the Pink Saree Parade Women of South Asian background walked to build awareness around the importance of Breast Screening and detection of Cancer and Women’s Well being.
The white Kerala saree clad women in red blouses, hair in a bun with jasmine flowers as seen in the balmy mornings in Kerala temples walked for better treatment of women and against Domestic Violence behind the Chendai Drummers of Kerala called IndOz Drummers. This part of the parade was supported by NSW Health.
The opening night featured Colombian Latin American dance band, Cumbiamuffin who got everyone on their feet and dancing. The rest of the weekend featured local artists from different cultures commencing with a morning Yoga and Meditation session lead by yoga teachers Abhishek Guru and Supriya Roy followed by a meditative vocal dhrupad practice lead by Anjali Roberts and Sumathi Krishnan.
As the sun rose and warmed over Prince Alfred Park families came along to ride the camel engage in ColourFun with Rangoli and or Kolam. They delighted their senses with a visit to the Spice and Herb Garden, filled their plates with spicy flavours from local restaurants and watched Indonesian Gammelan and Chinese Dancers adorn the stage with rich colours costumes dance and music typical to their respective cultures.
Flamenco Flashmobs and Bollywood flashmobs were great hits this year bringing over 60 dancers to Prince Alfred Park. Under the direction of Annalouise Paul, flamenco dancer saw the schools of Ruchi Sanghi School of Dance, and two other flamenco and belly dancing schools come together in an interactive collaborative presentation.
Swastik School of Dance, local to Harris Park, presented a creative flashmob as Superman and Rajasthani male dancers mixed into the Bollywood grooves. Nupur Dance, Indian Dance School and Natraj schools presented bollywood moves which were again popular with the festival goers.
Harris Park came alive with Bhangra, Chendai Drummers and other acts to form the Flavours of the World Spice Market at Harris Park. Cinema Thali film festival curated by Gary Paramanathan provided an opportunity to young Australian filmmakers to showcase an eclectic selection of movies, like Chittagong, Frangipani and more at the Rafferty’s Theatre.
Paying tribute to Fire and Rescue NSW, in a major production involving 45 dancers and 5 schools of Indian classical dances was Fire and Earth. A commissioned work of Parramasala – Fire and Earth was produced by Sydhwaney Production – its Fourth Production.
The production saw the coming together of all Indian classical dance styles in Bharathanatyam, Odissi, Kuchupidi and Kathak and Kai Kotti Kali. The production presented the quest of man to dance in rhythm with the elements around him creating a sense of harmony and balance with the environment. The storytelling transcended to a new realm of colour and movement. The finale was a spectacular feast of colour as acrobatic dancer Marlena Dali entered with her blazing fire pistons to be put out by the NSW Fire and Rescue officers on stage.
Sunday night saw the Sydney World Music Chamber Orchestra comprising of 11 piece assemble of artists from Western Sydney. Their new work, the ‘Three Sides of Love and Death’ explored the universal themes of unconditional love and rites of passage through the stories and sacred music practices of culturally, linguistically and religiously diverse artists who make up the Orchestra and showcases the power of process, collaboration and diversity.