India's rich cultural canvas forms an important part of global cultural heritage: President Patil

Written by: Hari Krishnan
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New Delhi, Sep 28 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisingh Patil on Tuesday said India has a rich cultural canvas that forms an important part of the global cultural heritage.

Conferring the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Akademi Awards for 2009 at a special ceremony here today, President Patil said India's culture has had an influence in the world since very early times.

"It needs to be preserved, conserved and documented. New technologies offer us an opportunity for this. Creating archives of performing arts would also help academic institutions, who could use these materials for educational purposes, researchers in their work and practitioners in their art," said President Patil.

Mentioning about her recent trip to Laos and Cambodia, the President said: "I was recently in Laos and Cambodia. There are historical and cultural monuments in both these countries that are a glorious testimony to our common cultural heritage. In the language, customs and rituals also there are many commonalities. For example, the Baci ceremony of Laos where threads are tied on the wrists of friends and family for their welfare and security is very much like our festival of Rakshabandhan."

"I witnessed performances in Cambodia based on the Ramayana. These close cultural linkages with these countries, as also other countries both to the East and West, today provide the basis for our longstanding bonds of friendship with them. Cultural diplomacy is a potent instrument in our foreign policy. Cultural exchanges, I believe, are important to promote understanding between peoples and must be encouraged," she added.

President Patil further said India is a very large country where the concept of unity through diversity is integral.

"The music of our saints and sages like Guru Nanak, Tulsidas, Kabir, and Surdas has helped preserve equilibrium in society and righteousness in the individual. By promoting greater understanding, even within the country, of our various cultures, music has became a vital aspect of our national integration as well," said President Patil.

"Moreover, a society which ennobles arts is enlightened. Hatred and violence can have no place in a civilized society. Here, I would like to recall the words of Mahatma Gandhi - 'Mutual courtesy and respect is the foundation of culture'. These words in essence capture the values and behavioural conduct necessary for civilized societies," she added.

President Patil said the advances in technology are providing newer variants of art and music.

"In today's globalised and integrated world, there are cross-cultural currents and, at the same time, advances in technology are providing newer variants of art and music. In these circumstances, questions of how to absorb change and how to retain the traditional styles present a challenge," said President Patil.

"I believe it is important for the many strands of culture that exists in the world and are a result of the evolution of different civilizations, to continue to exist. These add to variety in the world, which is so essential for keeping it as a planet of great cultural diversity, which alone can make it interesting. However, there should be efforts to take these different cultural forms to the people in an appealing manner," she added.

This year six eminent personalities were conferred Akademi Fellowships and thirty-three artists received the Akademi Awards.

The Sangeet Natak Akademi, established by the Government of India on May 31, 1952 is the National Academy of Music, Dance and Drama.

It was created as the apex body in the country for the task of preservation and promotion of the performing art tradition of India.

One of the important activities of the Akademi has been to give recognition and honours to artistes for setting standards in performing arts and restoring the art and artists to their rightful place in independent India. (ANI)

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