A two-day showcase of ancient therapeutic arts and culture will bring to the capital rare musical instruments like the Chinese Guquin and Iranian Tar-Setar and ancient dances like the Gaudiya Nritya and Pung Cholom at the International Ancient Arts Festival May 16-17 at Kamani theatre.
The festival, to be held under the aegis of a non-profit group 'Rays of Wisdom Society' by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Ministry of Culture, Delhi Tourism and Uttar Pradesh Tourism will feature performers from Pakistan, China, Iran and India, the organisers announced Monday.
Festival director, Reela Hota, an Odissi danseuse and founder of the Rays of Wisdom Society, said, "If you look at ancient cultures, the symbols, languages and customs have so many similarities as they were made by intuitive wisdom developed by contemplation. By bringing them together, we wanted to showcase their commonality. This year, we have expanded to include visual arts as well".
Hota added: "The focus this year is on sound vibrations. Sound vibration is a powerful tool for restoring the harmony and perfection within us and was understood by ancient cultures around the world especially in India, China, Africa and Egypt," Hota said.
Every country developed its own system of "manipulation, integrated them and presented them as dance and music", Hota said. "The aim of the festival is to highlight how music, dance and vital therapeutic practices in traditional systems of healing can combine to meet the lifestyles challenges of today".
Most ancient cultures believe in the primeval sound as the creator of all life. Sound and rhythm in the form of music and dance are vital therapy tools in traditional systems of healing, Hota said.
"Native American chants, African rhythms, Indian Nada yoga and pentatonic ragas help restore the balance between the mind, body and spirit. Traditional dance is spiritually liberating and cathartic and can heal illnesses like cerebral palsy and psychological disorders," Hota said.
Classical and folk dances of India, the whirling dervishes of Turkey, the Vietnamese ballet are all intrinsically linked to their traditional healing systems.
"Art, both visual and performing, enhances spiritual creativity and emotional reparation. Today, arts are being used extensively in therapy to help a person seek his happiness and peace of mind. This is what this unique festival hopes to achieve," she said.
The festival will begin May 16 with a collaborative performance of various Indian traditional dance forms highlighting "the spiritual significance of Rabindranath Tagore's poems".
It will include Odissi by Reela Hota, Kathak by Vidha Lal, creative dance by Naresh Kumar, Gaudiya Nritya by Gaudiya Nritya Bharati and Pung Cholom & Ras Leela by Prem Manipur Cultural association. It will be followed by a soul-stirring Sufi performance by Pakistan's Ustad Hamid Ali Khan.
On May 17, the programme will begin with a series of symposia on "The Body as a Sacred Instrument" by Vivien Marcow-Speiser from Cambridge University, "Healing Sounds for Children With Disabilities: Finding the Power of Love to Facilitate Growth and Change" by art therapist Phillipe Speiser and relationships between painting and healing by Runa Broota and Manissha Khanna.