About Konark Festival
Konark Festival is probably the biggest of all Indian dance and music festivals. Every year from the 19th to 23rd of February, the beautiful 700-year-old Natya Mandir Temple showcases some of the most talented and appreciated artists in India.
Artists from various disciplines of stage art participate and perform performances such as Odissi dance, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Manipuri, and other classical, folk and tribal dances. This year the famous Kathakali Theater act (see our Kathakali post) will be the main closing event of the Konark Festival.
Konark Festival is not only dedicated to staging arts but classical Indian music as well. That itself is a reason to visit this festival. Konark festival traditionally hosts the best musicians in India. To get them all on the same stage is a golden opportunity, and gives you the best introduction possible to the brilliance of Indian music.
If all this is not enough, then the Konark sun temple in Odissa (Orissa) definitely will be. Laying on the east-west access of the path of the sun, the temple was built for the worship of the sun god, who was considered as the primary source of energy. The temple was built on a model of a chariot that is about to make its first flight. That is what the remains of a chariot structure in the center of the temple show us. Konark temple is known as one of India’s greatest architectural masterpieces. The 13th-century temple was built by 12,000 craftsmen, and the tradition of master craftsmanship is still alive almost in every village in Odissa today.
Poetry on stones is not the only tradition of Konark which is still alive today. Odissi Dance is also part of Konark’s long-lasting legacy. The contours on the temple stones were an inspiration for the revival of this unique dance form that you can find in so many schools of dance all around Konark temple.
The Odissi dance was dug out of the ground, literally. It comes from the ground because the dance is a reconstruction of archaeological evidence found in excavations held in the state of Odissa. All evidence indicates that the Odissi traditional dance can be traced back to 1st century BC. Since then, classical Odissi dance has had quite a few changes, from being a secular dance, performed for kings and queens, to a devotional religious dance preformed for the Gods themselves at the temples. For The Mahiris (female dancers and servant of God) the dance and movement is a realm where they can crush the unbearable gap between them and God, making it the most intimate form of lovemaking with god.
Although the Odissi dance is directed towards many gods and goddesses in the Indian pantheon, who better to appreciate the art of dance than lord Shiva, whose second name is Natraj-King of Dance? He got his name for his mythical cosmic dance, called ‘Anandatandava,’ meaning the Dance of Bliss. This dance symbolizes the cosmic cycles of creation and destruction.
Throughout the years, the Maharis were responsible for keeping the dance alive, even amidst the unstable political and social atmosphere. They have suffered greatly from this dedication, even being portrayed as temple prostitutes in society. Regardless of the labels and rumors, they have managed to perfect a technique of an unequal division of weight and firm footwork balancing. This technique delivers a particular sensuality that is a trademark in classical dance styles in India.
The Konark festival is in a way celebrating the victory of art and love over evil. The Odissi dance is at the front of the stage, representing mastery of art form.
Here is a small taste of what you should expect from the music festival. Two maestros that I believe we must mention:
Flute master Hariprasad Chaurasia
Hariprasad Chaurasia is one of the most influential musicians in contemporary India. The 75-year-old musician has been playing the Bhansoori (Indian Bamboo flute) since he was 15. It would have been a great tragedy and a huge blow to India’s contemporary music, had Hariprasad followed his father’s dream of becoming a professional wrestler.
Hariprasad Chaurasia has collaborated with many great musicians, Indian and international. By working with talents ranging anywhere from George Harrison and the Beatles to Yehudi Menuhin and John McLaughlin, he has propelled India’s music and style into the international spotlight. His innovative and unique style is one of the reasons why Indian traditional music remains contemporary and accessible.
If you want to catch his amazing musical talents, you can attend his performance at the festival on Thursday, February 21st.
Hariprasad Chaurasia, Classical segment – check it out
Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan
Unlike Hariprasad Chaurasia, who had to learn music from his neighbor secretly from under his father’s radar, Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan was introduced to music as soon as he was born by his father, Ustad Aziz Khan. He grew up in a world of sounds and Ragas (Indian melodies). He is a sitar genius with dazzling virtuosity.
Maybe the best way to describe Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan and his significance in classical Indian music is to quote Zakir Hussain, another virtuoso of Indian classical music:
“To play with Shahid Bhai I have to think a lot. I have to be on my toes and concentrate constantly. Playing with him is never a casual affair. He plays very serious music… “
Ustad Zakir Hussain commenting about accompanying Shahid Ji ( Ji is a casual form of saying sir in Hindu).
Ustad Shahid Parvez Khan on the Sitar
Shahid Parvez Khan will be performing on Wednesday, February 20th, 2013 at the Konark Festival.
Konark Festival Program
The image was taken from the official site. We added a link too at the below
How to reach Konark Temple?
By Air – The Bhubaneswar airport is the easiest point for entering the city with several flights connecting Konark to Kolkata, Delhi, Hyderabad, and Chennai flying out regularly.
By Train – Located in the between cities of Puri and Bhubaneswar, the railway stations at Konark are linked with almost all the major destinations in India via regular trains.
By Road- You can reach Konark through any of India’s national and state highways, linked through Puri, Bhubaneswar, and other major Orissa cities.