Sunday, August 2, 2009

Feast for senses to unfold

The capital is getting ready to showcase its cultural heritage with a series of events — Delhi Celebrates — during the Commonwealth Games

Giant TV screens in public green spaces, touch screens along tourist hubs, hop-on hop-off tour buses, food melas along popular haunts like Baba Kharak Singh Marg and elaborate cultural events staged in historical monuments — that’s Delhi for you, come October 3, 2010.

As part of its elaborate plans for Commonwealth Games 2010, the art and culture department of Delhi government has lined up a host of events for the extravaganza. The theme — reportedly chosen by the CM herself — is ‘Delhi Celebrates’, which the department of art and culture is banking on for capturing the imagination of the people. Says Rina Ray, secretary, ‘‘The theme was chosen as it encompasses everyone in the city.’’ It’s not just the theme, however, which the government is planning to pedal as ‘soft power’. With a line-up that includes theatre, heritage tours, food melas and vintage car rallies, officials say it’s an opportunity to showcase the city in a unique way.

Adds Ray, ‘‘It won’t be just an exercise by the government. We are in talks with private organisations as well which are involved in art and culture to come forward and showcase the city.’’

Ray admits it’s a mammoth task, especially as few of the well known cultural landscapes of the city like Kamani or Triveni auditoriums are run by the local government. ‘‘The idea is to put our best foot forward, so we would like that everyone participates, including non-Delhi government institutions,’’ says Ray. With a mandate to highlight the cultural heritage of the city, officials in the department admit that unlike the curtain-raiser in Melbourne last year which was Bollywood-dominated, Delhi’s Commonwealth Games would give top billing to the traditional arts.

For the tourist, of course, it’s going to be a fortnight-long Indian mela, say officials. Garden festivals, night bazaars, exhibition of archives, food courts in popular places like Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Janpath, vintage car exhibition, heritage bus tours, walking tours with a colonial flavour for the tourists from Commonwealth countries and handicraft melas — there’s something for everyone, claim government officials.

That’s not all. To make the city more touristfriendly, the department is planning to make its website more ‘‘dynamic’’, with real-time information like which bus/metro route to take from point A to B, visual walkways, as well as nuggets of information on the city: say, how parathewali gali came by its name, who invented the chaat in Delhi etc.

The Delhi government will also put up touch screens in public spaces, starting from the airport, to serve as tourist information points. There will also be giant television screens put up across popular green areas to bring the Games action straight to those who may not have made it to the stadia.

The department also plans to tie up with the tourist departments of neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and UP so that a composite and standardised tourist experience can be offered to those visiting the country at that time. ‘‘And to ensure that the city is on its best behaviour, we plan to not only run its civility campaign but also tie up with local RWAs and trader associations so that Delhi can be showcased as an international city,’’ says Ray. For those looking for a cultural experience, the government plans to run its traditional festivals like Gurbani (devotional music), Ananya (dance) and Jahan-e-Khusrau (dance and music) during the October extravanganza, besides inviting non-governmental cultural organisations to also put up their own exhibitions. Adds Ray, ‘‘The venues will be spread all over, from the Bahai temple to DU lawns to even malls.’’

As a precurser, the culture department plans to hold a ‘‘dry run’’ in September when events will be held in Safdarjung Tomb, Qutub Minar and the Red Fort. Added Ray, ‘‘For the first time, we will come out with a brochure of events in the city as part of the dry run. It will show us what else we can add to the lineup we have planned for the Games.’’


In-charge of opening and closing ceremonies, which have been kept under wraps as of now

Bharat Bala creative director for both events

International consultant, Spectak Productions from Italy, chosen for logistical and creative inputs

Five event management companies shortlisted for the events

Both ceremonies ideated by a team led by Shovana Narayan, who is the Jt director in-charge of ceremonies and a core team comprising Bharat Bala, Shyam Benegal and Javed Akhtar


Fortnight-long ‘Indian Mela’, to be held during the Games, will include

Garden festivals

Night bazaars

Exhibition of archives

Food courts in popular places like Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Janpath

Vintage car exhibition

Heritage bus tours

Walking tours with a colonial flavor, especially for tourists from Commonwealth countries

Handicraft melas

Traditional festivals like Gurbani (devotional music), Ananya (dance) and Jahane-khusrau (dance and music) during the October extravaganza

Culture department to hold a ‘‘dry run’’ in September with events in Safdarjung Tomb, Qutub Minar and Red Fort

A brochure of events will be published as part of the dry run


A dynamic culture department website with real-time information
Buses/Metro routes to take from point A to B
Touch screens in public spaces, including airport and railway stations, to serve as tourist information points
Giant television screens in popular green areas for live telecast of the Games events