The Scottish Indian Arts Forum (SIAF) celebrated its flagship event Dusherra on 13 October 2019 at the top of Calton Hill, Edinburgh. More than 1,500 people braved the heavy rain and celebrated 25th Dusherra from 3:00pm to 9:00pm.
The celebration started with a special reception by Lord Provost of Edinburgh at the City Chambers, Edinburgh on Friday evening – 4th October 2019 with the performance of a traditional Indian dance to contemporary Indian and Scottish music. It was attended by Councillors, the Consul General of India, the Governor of Edinburgh Prison and a number of Indian community organisation representatives.
Started by a small group of Indian and Scottish volunteers interested in Indian art, culture, and heritage, SIAF remains a volunteer-led registered Scottish charity which has been promoting Indian culture and arts through festivals and performances of music, dance, drama, and film since its inception in 1994.
Joined by Mrs Joan Griffith, Deputy Lord Provost for the City of Edinburgh, Mr David Abernethy, Governor of HM Prison Edinburgh, Consul Indian Consulate Edinburgh Mr. B Bhattamishra, Culture and Community Convener Cllr. Donald Wilson, Sarah Boyack, MSP, Cllr. Graham Hutchison and a huge gathering of around 1,500 people from the local community participated in this year’s Dusherra festivities despite heavy rain.
Dusherra remains a free and open event at Calton Hill where every year more than 3,000 people enjoy the music, dance, and food that’s on offer, plus they get to witness the grand burning of the effigies of the demon and an electric fireworks display.
Dusherra helps further in bringing different communities within Edinburgh and wider Scotland together and plays a very key part in exposing Indo-Scottish cultural amalgamation. The event was supported by grants from City of Edinburgh Council, One City Trusts, and sponsorship from Purview Consultancy.
The main marquee had more than three hours of dance and music extravaganza by more than 100 artists ranging from amateurs to professionals including the dance drama of Ramlila. Key performances at the event included Twisted Tails, VIP Dholies, Bharatiya Ashram, Theiya Arts, Edinburgh Bhangra Crew, and Dance Beatz, along with amateur kids groups and other local talents. There was a separate marquee dedicated for kids’ activities – arts and crafts coordinated by Balagokulam Glasgow.
One of the key highlights of Dusherra has been the construction of effigies of the demons. For the past 12 years the effigies are built by in-mates from the Saughton Prison, Edinburgh. This partnership with the HM Prison forms a key initiative in enhancing the skills of the in-mates in carpentry, painting, and decorating along with providing SIAF with the opportunity to support within the community. This provides a spectacular finale to the event in the form of effigies burning and fireworks.
The event had food stalls from two reputed restaurants – KamaSutra (Glasgow) and Bawarchi. To mark this special occasion, SIAF released a special commemorative brochure on the evening.
Rajnish Singh, the President of SIAF gave the welcome speech and Abhijit Chakraborty, Secretary SIAF, gave a vote of thanks on the occasion. Deputy Lord Provost, Governor Edinburgh Prison, Consul General of India and Culture and Community Convener CEC also addressed the gathering on the evening.
Rajnish Singh, President of SIAF, said “Completing an active and successful 25 years is a big milestone for SIAF and we are very proud of it. On behalf of the entire Committee of SIAF, I would like to extend our big thank you to all those who had been part of this journey in any form – funders, past committee members, volunteers, performers, suppliers, and attendees to our events.
“We at SIAF are extremely proud of completing 25 years Dusherra celebration in a format where it is open to all with free entry despite all the challenges. It is one of the most popular Indian events in the city and we highly appreciate the support of local Indian and Scottish community who participate in the celebration in big numbers.”
Photo Credits: Dharmendra Bhatia