Bhubaneswar: The Department of Tourism and Culture, Government of Odisha hosted the Oz Fest, the biggest Australian Cultural Festival, staged by the Australian Government in India, at the Rajarani Temple here on Saturday.
Hon’ble Chief Minister welcomed the Australian guests and said, “Culture is a strong and important prospect which I believe can bring the people of two countries closer and open the vistas in different areas of co-operation to work together. Our State is potentially very rich in minerals and so also culturally vibrant with innumerable folk dances and music. With beautiful beaches, verdant forests, magnificent monuments, captivating performing arts and exquisite handicrafts and handlooms. Odisha has a lot of offer in the field of tourism. The government of Odisha is keen to explore the possibilities to work together with the Australian government in different sectors for the development of our state and well-being of our people.”
Renowned Australian musician Mark Atkins marked the commencement of the programme by sounding off the didgeridoo-an indigenous musical instrument. He played an exotic tune on the indigenous instrument to the amazement of a spell bound crowd.
Next came the much awaited performance by renowned Australian aboriginal singer Gurrumul Yunupingu who sang in his soul-stirring voice about identity, life and connection. Despite the medium being aboriginal Australian, the crowd seemed to be immersed in the soulful voice of the visually-challenged, shy singer.
The Australian government has joined hands with various governments, business, educational, institutional and production partners in India to bring the extraordinary Oz Fest, showcasing the vibrancy and innovation of Australia’s contemporary culture. Beginning October 2012, the Oz Fest will cover 18 cities in the country and hold various cultural meets.
Odisha folk artistes enthralled the Australian guests with their entertaining Ghoda Nacha and Gotipua performances. The Konark Natya Mandap, Konark performed the Gotipua dance and while the eminent Ghoda Nacha artist Utsav Charan Das and troupe from Choudwar presented the Ghoda Nacha .
The Oz Fest held its opening night in New Delhi as an outdoor concert. Leading artists from both countries took to the stage, connecting both cultures through music. The Oz Fest in India continues till March 2013 and during this period the troupe will travel and perform at different places throughout the country showcasing Australian culture through comedy festivals, film premiers, photography exhibitions etc.
The key attendees at the event are Hon’ble Chief Minister Mr Naveen Patnaik; Australian High Commissioner to India, Mr Peter Varghese AO; Minister Tourism and Culture, Planning and Coordination Mr Maheshwar Mohanty; Chief Secretary to Government Mr BK Pattanaik; Member of Parliament Dr. Prasanna Patsani and Principal Secretary to the Government, Tourism and Culture Department, Mr Ashok Kumar Tripathy, IAS; and the Deputy High Commissioner to India, Mr Lachlan Strahan