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Spice for the senses

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Western Sydney’s multicultural diversity is showcased at Parramasala 2014

“Parramasala 2014 was a spicy mix of parade, parties, exotic bazaar, food stalls, music, dance, poetry, film, art, street performers and much more. Now in its fifth year we are delighted to have once again brought Parramasala to Western Sydney,” said Dr GK Harinath, Chairman of Parramasala, and it’s a patently true statement. Parramasala 2014 was an eclectic mix of so many different events, each with its own flavour and personality that visitors to this international arts and culture festival had nothing but praise for the overall event. Various communities from Western Sydney participated, showcasing the harmonious multicultural flavour that exists within the region. With over 1000 parade participants and performers from 30 nationalities and cultures, Parramasala 2014 held from October 17-19, had something for everyone, from the vibrant riot of colours and costumes on the Opening Night Parade, to exhibitions, music and dance performances across various venues. The Police Band, Masala Markets, Chai Temple and Harris Park Bollywood Block Party were just a few of the events that added a touch of spice for the senses, as visitors were happy to attest.

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Here are some of the key events that made Parramasala special.

Parramasala Poetry Slam

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ParraSLAM @ Parramasala brought literature and poetry to the festivities with eight talented poets going head to head, reading and reciting Hindi and English works, to inspire the audience. The event was co-hosted by Word Travels and the Indian Literary and Art Society of Australia Inc (ILASA) on the concluding day of Parramasala. Participants Cheenu, Swati Tiwari, Rajeev Kapoor, Gaurav Kapoor, Sumathi Krishnan, Jenny Huynh, Ekta Sharma and Eden Riley took to the stage, elaborating on themes of local, social justice and South Asian migrant topics. Four contestants recited their poems in Hindi, in this unique competition which had no age, language or gender bar. The criteria for non-English speaking contestants was to simply express themselves through poetry and acting out. Each contestant was allocated 2 minutes to make their presentation, and the judges were chosen from the audience. Contestants ranged from areas across Sydney and even the Blue Mountains, and their presentations were appreciated by an attentive audience.

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Miles Miller of Word Travels started the program by introducing Omar Musa, Australian Poetry Slam Champion, the guest poets and the contestants. Miles kept the audience engaged with his witty comments and musical moves, to the delight and interest of those present. Next, his co-host, the renowned Indian poet Raj Paul Sandhu recited two of his pieces in English and Hindi. Following Omar Musa’s mind-blowing recitation, the first round commenced. All 8 poets performed well, and four finalists were selected to recite their poems in the second round. The third and the final round was the most challenging for the judges, as two competitors recited their last pieces. Finally, the winner of Parraslam poetry was announced to be Eden Riley, with Ekta Sharma as runner up. The winner received a $200 cash prize and has been invited to perform at Customs House at the Multilingual Slam 2015.

The special guest appearance of famous rapper poet Omar Musa of Malaysian background from Queanbeyan was an inspiration to the program. Omar recently published a book of poems titled, ‘Here Come the Dogs’, which surprisingly, received praise from actor and poetry lover Russell Crowe. Rekha Rajvanshi, Director and Co-ordinator of ILASA expressed her pride and admiration for member poets who participated in the ParraSLAM. Rajeev Kapoor, Swati Mishra Tiwari and Gaurav Kapoor were articulate in their poetry recitation, and Sumathi Krishnan recited one of Rekha’s own poems. Says Rekha, “All good and the event went well. I appreciate everyone’s efforts. We intent to improve and improvise in future Poetry Slam events. Indian poets write poetry mainly for their self-satisfaction, not to appear in competitions, but ILASA was happy to support this event.” Adds Rekha, “I wish we had more Indian Aussies in the audience, and at least 2 to 3 Hindi or Urdu speaking judges. However, the ILASA poets enjoyed being a part of the event and we congratulate the winner, who is a very good poet.”

Talented trio from Tamil Nadu

Talented trio from Tamil Nadu

Three young, highly acclaimed and talented musicians Rithvik Raja (vocal), Praveen Kumar (mridangam) and Rajeev (violin) from Chennai in India, performed an enticing Carnatic music concert on the concluding day of Parramasala, at the Lennox Theatre in Parramatta. The trio from Tamil Nadu presented a number of delightful songs in Tamil such as ‘Senthil Andavan’, ‘Poonkuyil’, ‘Ka Va Va Kanda’, ‘Karpagame’, among others which mesmerised the audience, both Indian-origin and Australian alike. The Rithvik Raja Concert was supported by Parramasala as an umbrella event, as well as the Tamil Arts & Cultural Association (TACA) and Sydhwaney. “Rithvik certainly seems to have absorbed the best from his guru, T.M. Krishna, and is carving a distinct niche of his own. The ensemble had a joyous youthfulness, reminding one of the mop- topped Beatles,” claimed an impressed attendee.

(Vish Vishwanathan)

A splendid dance

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Padmabhushan Professor CV Chandrasekhar is amongst the best known dancers of Bharata Natyam in India, and has dedicated his life to the teaching and performing of dance for over five decades. He is currently based in Chennai and is the most sought after Guru among senior dancers in the field. When asked to perform at Parramasala, Prof. Chandrasekhar admitted to an initial reluctance. “When I was told of this Parramasala event, the word ‘masala’ gave me a feeling that is peculiar only to Bollywood,” he said. However, the experience of participating in Parramasala was a satisfying one. Prof. Chandrasekhar was pleased to witness an event celebrating South Asian and other arts, and giving further impetus to classical Indian dance. At the start of his performance ‘Splendour of Creation’, he put his audiences instantly at ease by saying, “One does not need to know what the moves signifies, as it will be quite obvious to understand.” Prof. Chandrasekhar’s dance highlighted a mix of science and art, as he blended the entire evolution of the universe from galaxies to planets, flora and fauna and the creation of man, through the art of Bharata Natyam. The venue was packed with people who applauded this exceptional dancer through a rousing standing ovation.

(Arijit Banarji)

Soothing serenades

Bobby Singh is an acclaimed tabla player who has worked with luminaries such as Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Purbayan Chatterjee, Shashank Subramanium and Guru Karaikudimani, amongst others. At Parramasala, Bobby Singh and Friends performed a blend of East meets West music, with a Jazz/Blues plot twist.

The group featured Bobby Singh on tabla, Brett Hirst on bass, David Longo on guitar and vocals by Sarah J Hyland. The crowd was enthralled for a good half hour, serenaded by the beautiful vocals of Sarah. Bobby Singh kept the show informative by explaining certain ragas and scales for some of their music, which made the show even more enjoyable.

(Arijit Banarji)

Pink Sari Parade

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The Pink Sari Parade made a colourful impact in the opening parade of Parramasala, as a large number of men and women dressed in this distinct colour, stood out from the rest of the

performers. The Pink Sari Project is an initiative of the NSW Multicultural Health Communication Service (MHCS) in partnership with the NSW Refugee Health Service and the Cancer Institute NSW. It is aimed at South Asian women in raising awareness about breast cancer screening. Saheli, a women’s network of SEVA Inc was highly involved in coordinating this event.

The people in pink were joined by Julie Owens, Federal MP for Parramatta who strongly urged the community to keep checking their health, especially women. The walkers also held placards with messages supporting regular health and screening check ups.

(Vish Vishwanathan)

Clever and creative

Kanjoos 028Performance(3)

‘Kanjoos’, an adaptation of Moliere’s famous classical work ‘The Miser’ was presented by Adakar, Saba Zaidi’s recently formed theatre and cultural group. The play, a very well adapted version of the original was the first production of the group, and there’s no doubt that they did a commendable job. The first aspect of the play that captured one’s attention was the beautiful and well-laid stage set up by Rajeev Maini. Particular attention to detail was taken in ensuring that the stage depicted the aristocratic and nawabi styled architecture of mid-20th century India.

The play ran for two hours and was well received by the audience. The volunteer actors performed very professionally, remaining in their character throughout the play. Urdu often requires a good diction, and the actors delivered their lines with flair and confidence.

Dr. Hari Harinath, Chair of Parramasala, blessed the newly formed group and wished it success in the future. Saba stated that she was thankful to Dr. Harinath for his support in featuring the play under the auspices of Parramasala

(Arijit Banarji)

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