There is something for every Indian arts lover at this year's Kalaa Utsavam, the Indian Festival of Arts. Over 10 days (Nov 15-24), audiences can enjoy the best of Indian music from traditional to folk to Indian pop fusion, various graceful and grand dance forms, the best of Indian theatre and conversations with two of India's best-selling superstar authors - Chetan Bhagat and Amish Tripathi.
The festival, organised by the Esplanade, was first launched in 2002. It was then only a three-day affair. However, over the years it has grown to a 10-day festival encompassing all genres of Indian arts forms.
Kalaa Utsavam, which means arts festival, began as a festival of theatre, dance and music, but from 2011 a literary arts component was included. Indian poet and lyricist Gulzar held a session in 2011 as a part of this new initiative, while in 2012 writer Tarun Tejpal, who wrote novels like The Alchemy Of Desire, Story Of My Assassins and Valley Of Masks, held a talk at the festival.
This year, apart from conversations with authors Bhagat and Tripathi, a storytelling session for children, Forest Fables: Animals Of Mischief, will be held where many Indian folk tales and fables will come to life for the young listeners.
Speaking about Kalaa Utsavam and other festivals organised by Esplanade round the year, Esplanade's director of programming J.P. Nathan told tabla! that the priority for the centre when it opened in 2002 was to cultivate lifelong arts engagement among Singaporeans and to show people that the arts could be enjoyed by everyone.
He said: "A key approach we took was to programme annual festivals in conjunction with the major cultural celebrations in Singapore. So each year, during Chinese New Year, we present Huayi - Chinese Festival of Arts, Pesta Raya - Malay Festival of Arts during Hari Raya and Kalaa Utsavam - Indian Festival of Arts during Deepavali.
"By doing so, we wanted to give our communities a regular platform to come together, to celebrate rich traditions and a shared heritage through the arts and culture."