A slice of Persian culture for Indian aficionados

May 1st, 2008 - 1:34 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Culture seemed to forge a stronger pact between India and Iran than energy pipelines and uncertain political partnerships, with the three-day ‘Days of Iranian Culture in India’ kicking off here. The Iranian cultural showcase, which was inaugurated here Wednesday evening, a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s brief visit to the Indian capital, is the first in the country to promote the “historic land” as a vibrant tourist destination.

It was inaugurated jointly by Iranian Vice President Esfantiar Rahim Mashaei and Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) president Karan Singh.

The exhibition is being hosted by ICCR along with the embassy of Iran and the National Museum. The colours of ancient Persia and its journey of its evolution into a modern Islamic Republic came alive at the inaugural function which began with a prayer service and a stirring speech by the Iranian vice president, who called for “collaboration in the spheres of peace, progress and humanity between the two nations with their rich reserves of mysticism, heritage and culture”.

“The claimants or the ruling powers who stake claim to management of the world with their superior weapons have proved that they don’t have the efficiency to manage human beings. The two great nations, India and Iran, with their mysticism, logic and wisdom can give to the world love, peace and the spirit of humanity,” Mashaei said.

Iran, or Persia as it was known in the ancient times, is the cradle of Sufism, a religion that preaches peace and amity, which came to India in the early 12th century.

Mashaei’s call for “new peace initiatives” were ably reciprocated by Karan Singh, who stressed India’s cultural, social and cultural affinity with Iran. “We have strong political links, but it’s culture that holds the two nations together.”

Speeches over, the performers took over the stage. A santoor recital in the Iranian Sufi tradition was followed by a small mime-play about the country’s struggle from “fetters to freedom”.

The cast, all male as the clergy prohibits women from performing in public and in the company of men, used strong body language, traditional marital dance forms and a strange mix of background chants and folk music to narrate the Iran story. The play received a standing ovation from the packed house.

Altogether 60 artistes, mostly musicians and dancers, performed an array of folk dances representing the culture and the music of the different provinces in a small courtyard inside the museum as a band of tea-makers poured the traditional Iranian boiled fava tea from ornate brass pots into delicate porcelain and glass tumblers.

An exhibition of Iranian art and craft is the highlight of the culture week, along with a tourism counter hard selling Iran. The culture showcase ends May 3.

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