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Friday, May 14, 2004 12:11
Kolkata carnival
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Carnival Parade
The Carnival parade
tiny A group of carnival artists on the Isle of Wight travelled to India to take Carnival back to its roots.

Raz Hussain and Jo Palmer followed the carnival team all the way to Kolkata for a special Roots documentary.
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audio From Cowes to Calcutta - presented by Jo Palmer (56k)
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Ryde Carnival 2003
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tiny Staging a full scale carnival featuring over 1,000 dancers, drummers and other musicians is a daunting prospect at the best of times. But doing it half way around the world?!

The idea for the Kolkata carnival came from Ali Pretty, artistic director of carnival arts organisation Kinetika. She held a series of 'Making of Mass' workshops with local artists on the Isle of Wight. They are also part of the spectacular Ryde Carnival held on the Island each year.

Ali decided to take things on a global scale and along with seven artists, took international carnival to Kolkata (Calcutta) on India's east coast.

Their breathtaking procession entitled 'Din Shuru' was the first spectacle of its kind ever staged in India.

audio Listen to From Cowes to Calcutta - presented by Jo Palmer (56k)

Carnival
Action from the carnival
Din Shuru (Bengali for 'day break') is a fusion of Bollywood and Trinidad carnival processions which tells the the story of the Indian migration from Kolkata for Trinidad in the 1800s.

It's the inspiration for a lot of the Trinidad-style carnivals seen in the UK at events like the Notting Hill Carnival each summer.

The Isle of Wight artists worked morning noon and night with local school children, choreographers, dancers, costume makers, and artists for three extremely hectic weeks to get the show on the road.

Over 1,000 adults and children - Bengali's, Brits and even the American High Commissioner's wife, made up the procession. Together they exploded on to the streets of Kolkata and brought the bustling city to a standstill.

See the sights and colour of the Kolkata carnival - click through the photo gallery.


As the splendour of the procession went by with its amazing height, movement and colour, the children in the procession wore grins from ear to ear as they danced, jumped, hopped and grooved for three full hours. The complete carnival circuit finished outside the famous Queen Victoria Memorial building.

Carnival participants
Carnival participants
Meanwhile, hundreds of thousand of locals lined the streets and watched the fabulous spectacle open mouthed.

They struggled to resist the urge to dance to the fusion of Soca, Chutney Bhangra, RnB and traditional Bengali music expertly mixed and delivered by huge sound systems transported on four flat bed trucks in true carnival style!

We followed the Isle of Wight artists day and night, to document their amazing journey, interviewing residents of Kolkata who felt it was an amazing project and loved having such a beautiful spectacle in their city.

Such was the success of the project since returning to the UK, Kinetika has set up a Carnival in Kolkata Trust to make it an annual event in India.


 
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