Dance Party Diplomacy
Last night I experienced another incredible performance which brought together diplomats, students, and professionals from all over the world to share the beauty of music and culture. Colombian salsa band La Republica played an energetic concert to the packed Siri Fort Auditorium to celebrate Columbia’s Independence Day. No more than three numbers into the set, the aisles were filled with dancers as merengue, salsa, and Colombia’s famous cumbia flooded the hall. At one point the performers were joined on stage by members of a New Delhi salsa school (Monday is Salsa Night at New Delhi’s Urban Club) and the audience was wowed by an Indian couple with salsa moves like I have never seen. Later, a call-and-response number had the audience shouting “Brothers! Colombia & India are brothers!”
An article in this morning’s Business Standard, which I encourage you to read, spoke to the partnership and deep respect between Hindu and Muslim artists of India’s traditional Hindu music. Though a devout Muslim, shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan is revered as one of the finest musicians of the Hindu genre and believed in the holy waters of the Ganges so strongly that he would cleanse his shehnai in Hindu holy city of Varanasi after every trip abroad. He was known to say: Sur maharaj koi jaat paat nahin jante; Sur maharaj to sabke hain aur kisi ke bhi nahin hain.” (The gods of music know not caste or creed; they belong to everybody and none.)
Last evening’s performance, which opened with both the Colombian and Indian national anthems, brought two nations together to celebrate the fellowship that blossoms when we kick off pretense and put on our dancing shoes. One of the reasons I chose to study in India this year was to witness how this populous nation, where language, religion, caste, and creed live side by side, functions as the world’s largest democracy. Music, I believe, is part of the answer. In the words of Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzai, “Music makes the people come together.”
I am off to meet Lena and Lesly to continue the hunt for a flat. I will upload video from last night within the next few days. Thank you for your comments, keep ’em comin’!
And here, as promised, is the video of the evening’s performance: