Ode to monsoon

Orissa's rain festival

Published: Thursday 31 July 2003

RAIN FESTIVAL >> Bhubaneshwar India

"Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness." English romantic poet John Keats had provided autumn with a sensuousness unrivalled in literature. But had he witnessed the uniquely Indian weather phenomenon of the monsoon, he would have been equally impressed. That same sensuousness pervades monsoon, which, for Indians, is more than just a weather occurrence. In a culture that thrives on metaphors, monsoon is the definitive metaphor for the romantic and the sensual -- the season for love and romance. Thus it comes as no surprise when poets and dancers come together for a well-deserved song and dance, quite literally, about this endearing season. Scores of artistes gathered for a three-day festival in Bhubaneshwar, Orissa, recently to commemorate the arrival of monsoon.

The event was organised by the Kolkata-based voluntary organisation Reflections of Another Day (rad), the Orissa Dance Academy and the Jaydeva Foundation Trust with assistance from the Orissa government's department of culture and tourism. The event was a tribute to three of India's greatest poets -- Kalidasa, Jaideva and Rabindranath Tagore, each of whose works celebrate the sensuous and the romantic.

"Nowadays, monsoon fails to stir the common people. When we thought of this festival three years ago, we tried to give monsoon a social significance similar to that of Durga Puja, Holi and Diwali. That was how the rain festival started off," rad director Partha Roy said. Odissi dancer Aruna Mohanty said the rain festival would leave its mark on the imagination of the people.

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