Global Destinations Magazine reports on the first edition of the Seychelles-Indian Day Celebrations: A Feast to all your senses

Published on : Monday, November 25, 2013

20CULTURED1_SPAN-articleLarge-v4-300x182While the three day festival attracted a number of know Bollywood popular stars and had lots of cinema, dancing, Indian music & culture and Indian culinary delights the underlining was that it strengthened the relationship between India & Seychelles.

His Excellency Minister Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister responsible for Tourism and Culture, has always been innovative. When I met him the first time I was pretty impressed by his fondness to India. In order to bring the countries more close to each other he decided to hold a Seychelles-India Day. This idea has turned out to be a success and also played a vital role in strengthened their relationship with India.

This first edition of the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations attracted to the mid-ocean islands of the Seychelles a number of know Bollywood popular Stars who have themselves tweeted their positive impressions of the breathtaking islands. Bollywood, Indian Cinema, Indian Dancing, Indian Music & Culture and Indian Culinary Delights overtook Seychelles for this three day celebrations with the very popular film star R. Madhavan leading the long list of Indian celebrities to Seychelles.

The Indian Celebrities included Sanjeev Kapoor, the decorated best Chef of india, Sivamani, the world-class percussionist, Anjana Sukhani the pretty Indian film actress and model who starred with the likes of Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, John Abraham, Tushar Kapoor, Ajay Devgan, Kareena Kapoor and the South Star Ravi Teja. The list of celebrities who flew to Seychelles also included Shazahn Padamsee the pretty daughter of the noted actors Alyque Padamsee and Sharon Prabhakar and herself an Indian Film and Stage Actress, the prominent beauty queen Bollywood vocalist and performer Akriti Kakar, the latest sensation in Bollywood Benny Dayal, former Miss Universe India 2010 Ushoshi Sengupta who was the Master of Ceremony for the three day celebrations in Seychelles, the musical prodigy of India Tanmoy Bose, India’s leading flautist Naveen Kumar, India’s most creative fashion designers Mayyur Girotra and the know, popular and respected Terence Lewis of the dance world.

Exhibition of historical collection of photographs
Historical events of Seychelles and India seen through a collection of photographs and historical findings dating back to the first Indian settlers in Seychelles in 1770 was unveiled at the official opening of the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations Exhibition by His Excellency Alain St.Ange.

The exhibition ‘A Voyage in Time’ – walks the visitors to the exhibition through almost 250 years of Seychelles history. The objects on show start with Brayer du Barre’s settlement on St Anne Island, which incidentally included Indians – among the very first to settle on the island and subsequently founded the Seychelles population.

‘A voyage in Time’ also tells the story of the first Indians: Charvy, Moulia, Meinatte, Corinthe and Domingue. Originally from the Malabar Coast in India the five then settled as labourers on St Anne Island in 1770. ‘A Voyage in Time’ also showcases successive Indian migrations and integration into Seychelles community. The exhibition also shows that 82% of the Seychelles population has some Indian roots.

‘A voyage in Time’ is also about Seychelles long standing diplomatic ties with India established after the island’s Independence in 1976. When he was officially opening the exhibition, Alain St.Ange, the Seychelles Minister for Tourism and Culture said that the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations Exhibition is of great importance for the nation.

“The stories being depicted in this exhibition are the stories of India and Seychelles as well as those of Indians and Seychellois. They may not be perfect. They may at times appear flawed. But in them, essentially lay answers to what makes the relationship between India and Seychelles a privileged one’’ said His Excellency St.Ange.

A voyage in Time’ is above all a success story of two nations which have clearly mastered the notion of co-existing in perfect harmony!

Inaugural event
The Seychelles-India Day’s official opening performance featured a star studded line up, including Tanmoy Bose the known percussionist, and table player Sivamani, India’s best drummer and percussionist and Navreen, best known flautist mirroring the most recognised performers in India today.

The evening was hosted by the beautiful Ushoni Sen, the former Miss India Universe. The official opening of Seychelles- India Day started with the lighting of the lamp by Seychelles Minister Idith Alexander and Sarah Rene, wife of former President France Albert Rene and H.E. the Indian High Commissioner and the Bollywood Superstar R. Madhavan.

Termed by organisers as “three days of spicy cuisine”, the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations official opening was launched by Danny Faure, the Vice President of the Republic of Seychelles. Vice President Faure used his address to congratulate the Ministry of Tourism and Culture, the Indian High Commission and the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations Committee for staging such a great event in Seychelles. The Vice President also retraced the ties of friendship that exist between Seychelles and India, ‘two countries sharing the same Ocean’ he said.

In his opening remark at the evening ceremony His Excellency Alain St.Ange said that the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations is aimed to give due recognition to the local Indian community for all they have done to help built the nation that we are today.

He further “For many years we’ve celebrated La Francophonie, Fet Afrik, the Commonwealth and then we jumped India and China and went straight to celebrating Creole Festival which is what we are today. But to be where we are today, to be who we are today we have come from different places and from different parts of the world. Yes we came from France, Africa, the UK, India and China and tonight I am so happy that the Ministry of Tourism and Culture has been able to fill in these two holes in the list of national events celebrated by our country. As we are now celebrating our first Seychelles-India Day, we shall also be celebrating from the 31st January next year our first Seychelles-China Day Celebrations,’’ said His Excellency Alain St.Ange added, “We are thrilled to have you here with us. I really hope that when you go back home you become good ambassadors for Seychelles. Your first point of view of our country, your first impressions has been that Seychelles is magical. Please convey this back to India and become good ambassadors for Seychelles. ’’

The Minister also used his address to convey a message to Seychelles-Indo Community, “Today there’s a political will to work with you and to see you all united as an important group within our population. Today we see as an example the launch of a Seychelles-India Day Celebrations and this shows that the Government of Seychelles stands behind you and with you, because we recognise that you are a solid and respected force. You are a strong business community, and we value your presence in Seychelles and all your efforts for the good of Seychelles. So as we have now made a big step forward, let us ensure we take no step backwards again. Let us keep uniting ourselves. Let us work together so that this event, the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations remains on Seychelles calendar of event.”

Bollywood stars captures hearts in Seychelles
Seychellois and Indian communities got to witness the magical chemistry between Benny and Akriti Kakar, creating a real Bollywood style event. At the International Conference Centre, Akriti and Benny went all out to give the audience a taste of Bollywood’s block buster soundtracks. The Seychelles-India Day Celebrations musical concert was after all the perfect fusion between Benny and the very pretty Akriti.

Introduced by Akriti as one of India’s “hottest male voice and the fastest growing Indian youth Icon’’ Benny’s moves mesmerised the crowd and he displayed moves that reminded the audience of Michael Jackson and for the unique occasion in Seychelles, Benny and Akriti did India proud. As Benny and Akriti performed a combined live and play back hits from some of their most popular albums and recent movie charts toppers the crowd got to their feet and were calling for more. The International Conference Centre Musical Concert was turned into an interactive show with Akriti and Benny driving the crowd to the front of the stage, turning ICCS into a party atmosphere.

The musical Gala turned into a real India–Seychelles affair when Akriti Kakar introduced the popular Seychellois music star Telcy on stage describing her as a “fantastic artist she has met’’. The two divas performed an exotic duo of Telcy’s song “party time’’ and a beautiful Indian melody winning the heart of the audience.

The lungi dance
Members of the Indian community living in Seychelles, and young dancers from the Seychelles National Conservatoire of Performing Arts met at the International Conference Centre of Seychelles for the first ever lungi classes held in the country.

It is believed the dance is named after the Lungi garment worn by males in South India, who raise the long skirt above their knees when they dance.

In order to introduce the Seychellois to this dance, Terence Lewis, a top Indian choreographer, who has had a hand in producing dances for countless Bollywood movies held a workshop in the country. Lewis took those who attended the class from a warm-up to slowly performing the dance moves, without the youngsters even realising that they were actually picking up the rudimentary steps of the Lungi dance.

As the whole idea of the festivities was to promote cultural exchanges between the two countries, Lewis was also able to pick up a few Creole words on his visit to Seychelles; which he used to describe his experience there. “Tre zoli, tre bon, (very beautiful and very good)” he said.

Lewis also explained that nothing bridges cultures better than art, which is why he would love the opportunity to work more with Seychellois dancers in future. “Contemporary dance has that scope of bringing people together. Everybody in the world should dance because dance is A B C D. So anybody can dance. You in Seychelles have wonderful dance talents. I have been surprised by the talents from the National Conservatoire of Performing Arts. I would like to explore the Seychelles cultures in general and see what mixed cultures bring about. I would like also to discover indigenous dances and dancers of Seychelles. I would like to come back with other Indian dancers for a common production with the National Conservatoire of Performing Arts” said Lewis.

Those who had taken part in the workshop were then able to show-off their new skills in the gala held at Freedom Square on Sunday evening, they all joined Lewis on stage during the spectacular event.

The curtains
On the last day a stunning finale was held at an open air Gala Evening in Freedom Square in the centre of Victoria. Sivamani opened the gala evening mesmerising the crowd with tunes coming out from a water dispenser and a suitcase.

The great Sivamani, who’s been gifted with the gift of trans- forming any object into a musical instrument, submerged Victoria, the Seychelles capital into the most magnificent tune of Indian drums. As rightly put Sivamani “rhythm is God. My first drum sound was my mother’s heart when I was in her wound’’ the sound he produced from beating his different instruments is as powerful as that of a heart beat.

Akriti Kakar, the star of the moment who has captivated everyone by her beauty and with her honey voice has been the talk of the town throughout the three days of the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations. She made her entrance after Sivamani’s performance with a series of rhythmic songs. The stunning Ushoshio Sengupta, the host of the evening presented her to the audience as “the complete package of grace, elegance, beauty and talent’’. Her performance opened the way for Terrence Lewis, India’s contemporary dance guru, the ace of Indian choreography and his dancers from “Terrence Lewis Contemporary Dance Company (TLCDC).

Terrence and his team staged a fantastic repertoire, telling the story of Bollywood music and dance from 1950 to the present day.

The open air performance in the centre of Victoria on Sunday 6th October was also the day marking the 100th anniversary of Bollywood cinema.

Thanglura Darlong, the Indian High Commissioner to Seychelles was given the honour to say a few words to close the Gala Evening. The Indian High Commissioner said that “a few months ago we thought about the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations in a very small way, but it has turned out many times bigger. We now look forward to next year for an even bigger event’’.

The popular Bollywood Star, R. Madhavan, the guest of honour of the Seychelles-India Day Celebrations said he will not for- get such a beautiful trip. “My presence here is an honour that I will pay back by boasting about Seychelles. The hospitality has been exceptional, so I am going to take this back with me and I will surely come back for more’’.

To be an annual feature from now, Seychelles India Day will be celebrated on the weekend succeeding the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi Oct 2, the Indian high commission here said.

Source:- Seychelles Tourism Board

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