The Indian Heritage Centre’s (IHC) first digital edition of IHC CultureFest showcases the diversity of Indian arts, culture and heritage in Singapore through the lens of the epic literary work the Ramayana. The eclectic line-up of online programmes includes cultural performances, panel discussions, workshops, storytelling sessions and cooking demonstrations.
They will explore a wide variety of Indian art and culture forms and their influences, bound by common values and themes. IHC CultureFest 2020: Digital Edition will take place from Saturday, 5 September 2020, to Sunday, 20 September 2020, and its programmes can be enjoyed for free online at IHC’s Facebook page and website.
Mrs Maria Bhavani Dass, General Manager of IHC, said, “This year’s IHC CultureFest celebrates the rich intangible cultural heritage of our Indian diaspora in Singapore through the lens of a well-loved epic: Ramayana. The classic literary work espouses universal values, such as unity amongst people of the world, that is much needed for the times we live in. With this digital edition of IHC CultureFest, we hope that more will join us online to enjoy the many different programmes to discover more about our diverse Indian heritage, arts and culture.”
IHC CultureFest 2020’s more than 40 programmes, which include performances, demonstrations and workshops, will be spread across 5 to 20 September, with new programmes introduced every week to keep festival-goers coming back. To make it easier for audiences to catch a daily dose of culture, bite-sized videos will be posted on the IHC Facebook page every weekday, with Lunchtime Culture Bites at 1pm, and a Daily Cultural Showcase at 6pm. Special programmes will be uploaded on weekends.
Headlining this year’s IHC CultureFest are both traditional and contemporary performances by local artists and groups – all inspired by the Ramayana. Kicking off the festival on 5 September is Sita, a dance production of celebrated Indian artist Raja Ravi Varma’s Ramayana paintings, brought to life by Apsaras Arts, a recipient of NHB’s The Stewards of Singapore’s Intangible Cultural Heritage Award. Other highlights include a retelling of the story of the Ramayana by Singaporean storyteller Kamini Ramachandran through a six-part series of illustrations by local artist Yip Yew Chong, and a community youth showcase that combines the traditional art forms of kalaripayattu, silambam, bharatanatyam, kathak, traditional yoga and veenai to reenact a key portion of the Ramayana.
In addition to these performances, interactive programming and workshops will also introduce the values of Ramayana to audiences of all ages. For example, Ramayana: A Dance- telling session told through Puppetry and Craft will tell the tale of the Ramayana by getting audiences to dance and create their own characters through a blended approach of storytelling, performing arts and craft. Join chef Devagi Sanmugam as she prepares an epic three-course meal with a traditional drink. In the Madhubani Art Workshop, participants will be able to create a piece of Ramayana-themed madhubani pen art, and learn more about the history of this traditional folk art, which is often created as a decoration for events such as weddings, harvests and festivals.
A Collaboration with Local Artists and Partners
This digital edition of IHC CultureFest has also enabled IHC to support Singapore’s arts and culture scene, by working with more than 100 artistes and practitioners to present the various performances, programmes and workshops.
Mr Maathavan Kalaichelvan, veenai player in the community youth showcase, said, “It has been a great experience being able to perform at this year’s IHC CultureFest. Performing arts such as Indian classical music are important parts of our heritage, and I am glad that I have the opportunity to showcase these in new, never-before-seen ways. I am passionate about my heritage in all its forms, and the camaraderie I share with my fellow musicians as we express this through our instruments is irreplaceable. I hope many more, especially youth, will catch this flame and treasure our culture and heritage.”
As part of the centre’s engagement with youth, IHC also partnered Diploma in Communication Design students from the Temasek Polytechnic School of Design to create this year’s IHC CultureFest logo and key visual. The students were inspired by artefacts featured in IHC, and by the different facets of the Ramayana, traditional Indian arts, culture and heritage for the designs.
Mr Bryan Angelo Lim, Lecturer of Communication Design at Temasek Polytechnic, School of Design, said, “Our collaboration with IHC on IHC CultureFest 2020 was an exciting and fruitful endeavour for our students. It gave them the opportunity to learn more about Singapore Indian culture and heritage, and apply the knowledge and skills they have been equipped with to create a brand identity for the festival. This experience allowed our students to understand the important role that design can play in promoting arts and culture, and they were all thrilled to see their creation used in the festival’s publicity platforms.”
On-site Festival Activities at IHC
To complement the offerings online, IHC will also be staging a Madhubani Traditional Folk Art display at the centre’s lobby. Visitors can experience the traditional Indian art form of Madhubani through a series of paintings that narrate the story of the Ramayana through eye-catching geometrical patterns, and also try their hands at this intricate art form through a special Madhubani community art wall on weekends. There will also be special edition IHC CultureFest guided tours of the galleries for festival-goers to sign up for. Please refer to Annex A for a full list of programme highlights.
To enjoy IHC CultureFest programmes, please visit https://www.indianheritage.org.sg, or IHC’s Facebook page.