Ten-day Taj Mahotsav to begin Friday

Thursday, February 17, 2011

AGRA - The ten-day annual cultural extravaganza Taj Mahotsav, dedicated to the heritage of Agra and the Braj region, will open Friday.

Over 350 craftsmen from 19 states will be putting up stalls at the Mahotsav. However, intellectuals in the city argue that the original purpose of the festival to promote local arts is not being met and, instead, the festival has acquired commercial flavours.

Singers Sunidhi Chauhan, KK, Shubha Mudgal and Richa Sharma are to perform at the festival.

On sale would be Banarasi sarees, Pashmina shawls, wood works from Tamil Nadu, in short all the leftovers from the Surajkund fair in Haryana, say some shopkeepers of the handicrafts and marble works market in Gokulpura.

“In the name of promoting Agra tourism and local industries, the bureaucrats have decided to promote local heritage this year,” says a zardozi worker.

“How this is to be done? The picture is not clear,” he added, sarcastically.

Rajeev Tiwari, senior tourism industry leader, says: “There is such a disconnect between the festival organisers and the local tourism sector.”

“The original purpose of this festival, launched in 1993, was to help the local tourism industry and to open a window for local cultural activists to showcase their best creative efforts,” he added.

Rakesh Chauhan, president of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association, said: “These sort of events serve no purpose as far as tourism promotion is concerned. Where is the Mughal or Braj culture in this festival? Foreign tourists are not interested in cabarets or fashion shows. They want to see authentic local culture.”

However, divisional commissioner Abhijat Amrit said the festival “will have a distinct local flavour” and help promote authentic regional culture and art forms.

Meanwhile, the venue of the festival at Shilpgram, 500 metres from the Taj Mahal, is being decked up for the annual celebrations. The artists and craftsmen have been lodged in the dormitory specially built for them at the venue.

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