The Embassy with the support of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India jointly organized a Festival of India in three cities of Cambodia namely Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang during January-February 2017. This Festival was also organized to mark the 25th Anniversary of India-ASEAN Dialogue partnership as well as the 65thanniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Cambodia. The Royal Government of Cambodia extended its support through Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and Ministry of Tourism. The Festival of India included:
(i) Ramayana Classical Dance performance;
(ii) Kathak Classical dance;
(iii) Manganiar and Kalbelia Folk Dance from the State of Rajasthan;
(iv) Buddhist Festival; and
(v) Food Festival.
Opening of the Festival and Ramayana Classical Dance performance (10-16 January 2017): The Opening Ceremony of Festival of India was held on 10th January 2017 in Phnom Penh with a performance of Ramayana by Kalakshetra Foundation. The performance was staged at the premium theatre of Cambodia – Chaktomuk Theater.
Ms. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Mr. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information, His Royal Highness Prince Norodom Sirivudh, Supreme Privy Councilor of HM the King and Ambassador inaugurated the Festival by lighting the traditional lamp. The scintillating performance was welcomed by Cambodian audience, diplomats and other international and national guests who filled the Chaktomouk Hall to its capacity. Subsequently, the ancient epic drama was performed on 14-15 January 2017 for the first time at historic Bayon temple in Angkor Archaeological Park area in Siem Reap. The event was presided over by Dr. Thong Khon, Minister of Tourism and Ambassador. The spectacular show with the lustrous stones of Bayon temple in the background was a huge success with more than 1000 spectators including officials, local Cambodian populate, students, national and international tourists attending the performance on both days. The performance was also organised on 16 January at the University of Battambang which was attended by senior provincial officials, President, faculty members and the students of the university, local populace and Indian community
Rajasthani Manganiar Music, Kalbelia and Bhavai Dance (24-26 January 2017): After successful conduct of Ramayana, Rajasthani Manganiar Music, Kalbelia and Bhavai Dance thrilled the audiences in Phnom Penh by their colorful performance at Chaktomouk Theater on 24th January. Mr. Khieu Kanharith, Minister of Information and his delegation enjoyed the Rajasthani Manganiar music and beat, breathtaking Kalbelia and Bhavai dance along with large number of youth, Indian community, national and international guests. Like Ramayana this performance too was a sellout event with a packed hall. Subsequently the group performed at the Reception hosted by the Embassy to celebrate the 68th Republic Day on 25th January. Mission again organized a performance of the Rajasthani folk dance also in Battambang on 26th January at the University of Battambang.
Kathak Classical Dance by NADAM Group (26-27 January 2017): One of the important cultural segments of Festival of India was the colorful Kathak Classical dance performances by NADAM Group. The renowned Kathak group from Bangalore spellbound the audience at the Institute of Technology of Cambodia (ITC) by their amazing performance on the 68th Republic Day of India. Dr. Om Romny, Director General of ITC and Ambassador presided over the cultural event which was attended by more than 800 students, faculty members, ITC staff and Indian community who all enjoyed the graceful twirls, magnificent foot-work and enticing expressions of artists. The cultural component of Festival of India ended with colorful and sensational Kathak Classical dance by NADAM group at Chaktomouk theatre on 27 January. Ms. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture & Fine Arts and His Royal Highness Prince Norodom Sirivudh who were the Chief Guests enjoyed dance along with Senior Officials, Diplomatic corps, large number of students, Indian community, national and international guests.
Indian Food Festival (14-25 January 2017): An Indian Food Festival was also organized in Siem Reap from 14-16 January at Hotel Le Meridien and in Phnom Penh from 18-25 January at Hotel InterContinental. During the food festival, two experienced Indian chefs presented the different cuisines from India and food lovers in both the cities relished the delicious Indian food. The Food festival was inaugurated in Siem Reap on 14 January immediately after the Ramayana performance by the Tourism Minister of Cambodia. Selected guests were invited to the Food Festival on 14 January and 18 January in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh respectively.
Buddhist Festival (6-10 February 2017):. Finally, a Buddhist Festival was organized at the historic Wat Ounalum in Phnom Penh from 06-10 February 2017 keeping in view the fact that Buddhism represents a strong link between the two countries. The opening ceremony was held on evening of 6th February. Shri Ram Nath Kovind, Hon’ble Governor of Bihar (President of Nav Nalanda Mahavihara Society, Nalanda) led a delegation to Cambodia and jointly inaugurated the Buddhist Festival with Mr. Him Chhem, Minister of Cults and Religion, Ms. Phoeurng Sackona, Minister of Culture and Fine Arts. The inaugural was graced by the presence of His Holiness Samdech Tep Vong, The Great Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia and His Holiness Samdech Bour Kry, Sangharaja of Dhammayut Nikaya order of Cambodia with their delegations of Buddhist monks. It was a unique occasion with the presence of the leaders of the two main Buddhist Nikayas of the Cambodia. The opening ceremony was also attended by government officials, members of the diplomatic corps, Indian community, general public and tourists. Buddhist Festival consisted of an Exhibition “Dharma Darshan” curated by the Nav Nalanda Mahavihara which received wide response and hundreds of Cambodian and foreign visitors crowded the exhibition hall to see the artifacts and digitized prints exploring and illustrating the life and teachings of the Buddha and Buddhist heritage sites in India. The exhibition remained open to the public from 7.00 AM to 7.00 PM.
Overall the Festival of India was a tremendous success with each event attracting a large number of Cambodian audiences. The Festival coming in the first month of the year also was timely to mark 25th Anniversary of ASEAN-India dialogue partnership as well as 65th Anniversary of establishment of our diplomatic relations with Cambodia. The month long festival provided us the opportunity to showcase our rich cultural heritage to Cambodian people with whom we share a strong cultural bond.