ADDRESS BY H.E. BARAKA H. LUVANDA, HIGH COMMISSIONER OF THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA AT THE OCCASION OF A WEEK-LONG MEGA INTERNATIONAL SREE SANKARA DANCE AND MUSIC FESTIVAL 2017 26TH DECEMBER, 2017 KALADY, STATE OF KERALA, INDIA

Hon. SRI P. Sreeramakrishnan,
Speaker of Kerala Legislative Assembly,


Hon. SRI Roji M.John,
Member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly,

Our Host Prof. P.V. Peethambaran,
Promoter and Chief Coordinator of the Festival,

Smt. Sudha Peethambaran,
Director, Sree Sankara School of Dance,

SRI K.T. Salim,
Chairman of the Organizing Committee,

Mr. Jayaraj P.V.
Overseas Chief Coordinator,

Distinguished Participants,

Dear Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Namaskar! Good evening!

I should like at the outset to express my sincere and heartfelt appreciations for this unique opportunity to visit this historic place and, especially for the kind invitation to address this grand audience of dance and music performers from diverse backgrounds.

Again, I wish to thank you immensely for the warm welcome and, for the generous hospitality extended to us.

Let me also bring to you very warm greetings from the President of the United Republic of Tanzania, His Excellency Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli who, some of you might have seen him in the media playing drums along with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his historic maiden State Visit to Tanzania in July 2016.

This is a clear testimony of the passion that the two Principals have in dance and music.

Dear Friends, Distinguished Participants,

For many Tanzanians, being in any part of India we do not feel as being at home, but we are indeed at home. You may wish to note that while Tanzania is a second home for more than 60,000 Indians, with an estimated population of 1,000 of them from Kerala alone; India on her part is host to even larger number of Tanzanians.

Students from Tanzania are among the majority of all the foreign students in India and we are happy that this is happening because of the solid historical, traditional and cultural connections that exist between Tanzania and India.

It is not surprising therefore to have a robust and working Tanzania-India Friendship Association (TIFA), whose one of its Founding Members, Mr. Jayaraj is in our midst and has been the man behind the successes of this year’s festival.

Equally important, in the recent past, the number of tourists from India to Tanzania has increased to 37,000 tourists per year while the number of Tanzanians visiting India, especially on medical tourism has increased significantly. I will not attempt to spend more time with the statistics because of nature of this event.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This week-long event is a colourful one not only because of the great food, beverages and music and dance entertainment that have been prepared for us. It is so because of the diversity of stakeholders from across the world. This follows the decision by the organizers this year (2017) to elevate the event to International Sree Sankara Dance & Music Festival.

I am pleased to note that we have for the whole of this week up to 1,700 artists within India and from abroad including, world famous artists which make this year’s festival a memorable one. This inaugural event this evening has a special dance item of 300 dancers which will be followed by dance performance by Sri Lanka and French dance troupes and I have been informed that the last item of the day is Kathak dance by a renowned Indian artist.

Dear Friends,

I know the energy and dedication that accompanied the preparations for this and I must express my sincere thanks to the Organizing Committee, including those “behind the scene” for the job well done. Chairman, you have just proved wrong those who think or say that if you want to kill an idea get a Committee to work on it. Congratulations!

“Sree Sankara Dance Going Global”

It is also worth noting that this event is unique in that it coincides with the marking of the Silver Jubilee of the Sree Sankara Dance (SSD). This is a fitting occasion to celebrate the achievements over the years and take stock of the many challenges –existing and those ahead. Again, celebrating the same at the birth place of the world famous philosopher Jagadguru Adi Sankara provides us with a sense of pride and satisfaction.

“A Cause to Celebrate”

However, while there is a clear cause and sense to celebrate the achievements of SSD including, its elevation to ISSD, there is still a need to keep in mind that there is a lot more to be done. Thus, because the overriding objective of the SSD events has always been to provide a platform to famous and upcoming artists, with the elevation to a wider global participation, efforts should be geared at sustaining the achievements and engaging more constructively with the now wider audience and performers.

“Building Strong Institutions”

The French Political Economist and Diplomat Jean Monnet was quite right when he put it, “Nothing is possible without men...(I would add: women) but nothing lasts without institutions.” With strong institutions such as the SSD, one is certain that the agenda it has carried throughout 25 years of its existence would be enhanced to even greater height.

“Promoting Peaceful Co-existence”

There is no doubt that the SSD will go a long way to nurture the diversity of understanding among Indians and beyond as well as continue to promote peaceful co-existence among global citizens.

“Cross-breeding of Cultures”

It is also common knowledge that through this cultural cross-breeding we are creating an important bridge to cultural divergence of traditions, ideas and knowledge as well as creating business prospective. Who knows, for instance, that among the participants present here this week will in one day come back as tourists, philanthropists or investors? That is the magic power of this dance and music event.

“Building Global Community”

We should now be focusing on building a Global Community through dancing together. It has been said that the benefits of dancing are endless. I subscribe to this view. Not only does it make you smarter, happier and healthier; dancing in synchrony (together) with others raises our pain tolerance and makes us feel more connected to others.

Indeed, dancing together is something universal that we humans have done since the earliest times. It is fundamentally cooperative in nature.

Perhaps the English Social Anthropologist Radcliffe Brown put it aptly when he noted, “As the dancer loses himself in the dance, as he becomes absorbed in the unified community, he reaches a state of elation in which he feels himself complete filled with an energy of force immensely beyond his ordinary state ... finding himself in complete and ecstatic harmony with all the fellow-members of his community, experiences a great increase in his feelings of amity and attachment towards them...”

“Achieving Universalisation of Cultures”

On this note, the SSD has certainly shown its maturity by assuming a universal authority through a decision to include foreign artists. It has truly become a universal and representative of the globe rather than being monocultural.

“Capturing the Global Wisdom”

However, this may not have been incidental. The SSD, in my view, could no longer afford to neglect the rich repository of global wisdom contained in traditions across the world. In essence, culture whether through dance or music should and must be viewed universally rather than from a merely national or regional point of view.

“Connecting-the-Dots”

There is also another beneficial dimension of this assembly here in Kalady worth mentioning. This is what we can call “the connect-the-dots aspect.” That is to say all that each one of us needs to do while in the midst of these wonderful men and women gathered here from across the world is to find out the habits, disciplines and strategies that other performers have used to obtain their results and connect the dots by duplicating their actions. This will be mutually beneficial, in the long run.

“The Unity of Human Family”

I thought I should also mention, albeit in passing that this assembly provides or rather has provided an important opportunity to prove that we make divisions among ourselves but in essence we are just one species, occupying one planetary home.

For instance, although the European culture has tended in the past few centuries to be largely Euro-Centered, universalisation is, by and large, the theme that reflected on by a wide range of European Philosophers, among them, the following:

“There is no one in the whole human family to whom kindly affection is not due by reason of the bond of common humanity.” (St. Augustine –To Proba, 412 A.D).

“I now understand that my welfare is only possible if I acknowledge my unity with all the people of the world without exception.” (Leo Tolstoy –What I Believe, 1895).

“A time may come when the local heritage of the different traditions, nations, civilisation and religions will have coalesced into a common heritage of the whole human family.” (A. J. Toynbee – A Historical Approach to Religion, 1956)

I chose to underline the last quotation for obvious reasons. May be the time has now come and that is why the SSD has taken lead in amplifying the dream. The dream of a common heritage of the Whole Human Family.

Conceivably or rather logically, it goes without saying that, if dancing and singing together builds trust, social cohesion, contributes to local development and prosperity, can be a bridge between cultures, and between traditions and modernity and can have the interest, energy and passion to address issues and concerns such as heritage management, sustainable tourism and community involvement, we probably should and, must all do more of it.

“Concluding Remarks”

I will end my remarks by sharing with you a short but interesting anecdote: “Two friends were talking about a guy. “I will never invite him to my parties again,” one said. Last time he did something I did not like.” What was that?” “He came.”

You invited us. We hope you meant it. And we hope we will not do or at least have not done anything to deny us an invitation to the next occasion.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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