The enthusiastic spectators watching the Folk artists from Nepal presenting
Peacock Dance in the Folk Performances in Central Park, Connaught Place

Folk Performance from Bhutan

Folklore Troupe Leader from Afghanistan, Ustad Gul Zaman singing a Dari folksong

Culture and Tourism, with a ceremonial shawl. The Minister inaugurated the Festival by lighting the lamp, along with three scholars from Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The Minister presented shawls to honour the 29 leaders of performing troupes from different countries of the SAARC region.

The Minister spoke very warmly, right from her heart, about this First-ever initiative of FOSWAL, bringing SAARC Folklore to the forefront as a vital, emotional and vibrant civilisational and cultural link binding the region, by exploring the deep common roots of historical and cultural memories.

The formal inauguration was followed by very vibrant, colourful and spectacular performances, brilliantly compered by the Academic Consultant of FOSWAL, Dr. Renuka Singh, an eminent sociologist, teaching in Jawaharlal Nehru University. Twenty nine performing troupes comprising of nearly 300 folk performers from the eight SAARC countries performed that evening. Some of the memorable performances came from the troupes from Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Afghanistan from the neighbouring countries. And, performances by the troupes from Kerala, Nagaland, Gujarat, Orissa, Punjab, Chhattisgarh and different parts of India. All of them held the attention of thousands of spectators in mesmerising, magical spell, and enthralled the audience, the Minister, the dignitaries, the folklore scholars, and fellow folk performers from different countries who were meeting for the first time.

On the evening of the 7th, the wife of the Prime Minister of India, Sardarni Gursharan Kaur, who takes keen interest in cultural and literary activities of the country, was the Chief Guest. She was greeted by Ajeet Cour with a ceremonial shawl and by Dr. Nihal Rodrigo, the Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka, Prof. Shamsuzzaman Khan from Bangladesh, and Dr. Fouzia Saeed from Pakistan.

That evening, 22 teams from different countries in the region, performed for the audience. Indian troupes from Kerala to Kashmir, and from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat and Punjab took part in the performances. Each team presented their vibrant, exciting and colourful folk performances which enthralled the spectators.

Mrs. Gursharan Kaur, social and cultural activist wife of the Prime Minister of India,lighting the Inaugural lamp for Folk Performances on the evening of 7th December, 2007.Ajeet Cour stands behind, with Dr. Nihal Rodrigo from Sri Lanka, and Prof. Shamsuzzaman Khan from Bangladesh

The Folk Performers from the rural areas of Bangladesh presenting their colourful and vibrant traditional song and dance : ‘Kushan Gaan’, the story of Luv and Kush and Ramayana, the folk traditions they have kept alive. Choreographed by Dr. Lubna Marium and Dr. Radha Chakravarty

The Folk Performances were not a mere showing of the differences and variety and diversity that exists in this vast region which we call South Asia, it was a grand success because it showed that despite the diversity, there is not only an underlying spirit that binds us all together, but a cultural ‘design’ that is overt and very clearly visible that makes us a part of both a temporal and spatial continuum which is only divided by geo-political lines drawn on maps. Just as an example, the folk performing troupe from remote villages of Bangladesh, all of them Muslims, had preserved the story of Ramayana among their folk songs, as a collective folk memory, and presented a vibrant, soulful ‘Kushan Gaan’, the story of Luv and Kush, the two sons of Lord Rama, showing that neither religions nor geographical devisions can chop off our age-old historical memories, preserved in our oral lore.

The Pakistani Folklore Troupe from Baluchistan presents their musical performance

Ms. Ambika Soni, Hon’ble Minister of Culture and Tourism, offering a Kashmiri embroidered shawl to Folk Performing Artist from Baluchistan

Teejan Bai from Chattisgarh presenting one of the most popular Indian Folk Performances : ‘Pandavaani’

Ahlah’ : the traditional folk songs of ancient tales of courage and bravery, presented by folk artist Foujdar Singh from Uttar Pradesh

The Sri Lankan Troupe presenting their vibrant, colourful, soulful Folk Dance

Toda Tribal group from the Nilgiri Hills presenting their Folk Dance, to the tune of their ancient songs

Thousands of attentive audienc