Indian artists showcase nation's cultural diversity

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Aptly called a "celebration without borders", UTSAV 2010 turned out to be just that.

Around a thousand Indians, Vietnamese and other nationals got together in HCMC to have a rollicking time as Indian expats celebrated a slew of traditional New Year festivals with a wide spread of Indian food, free flow of  alcoholic beverages and an evening of Indian pop and folk music.

That a good time was had by all was due in no small measure to the open, interactive and good-natured performance of the two artists invited from India, Jasbir Jassi and Sasho, aka Satiiysh Sarathy.

Overcoming a truly terrible sound-system, Jasbir Jassi and Sasho had most of the crowd stand up and sing and dance with them in an open area between the stage and the rows of seats.

The crowd responded to their exhortations with gusto, with people of all nationalities and ages letting themselves go wild to the frenetic beats of Indian percussion untiringly performed on the dholak and the tabla by Jassi's band, which also included a base guitarist and a keyboard player admirably bringing out the notes of the traditional harmonium used in Indian folk and classical music.

Saturday's celebrations brought together festivals that coincide in this part of the year, including Baisakhi in Punjab, Gudi Padwa in Maharasthra, Nabo Barsho in West Bengal, Vishu in Kerala, Ugadi in Andhra Pradesh, Bihu in Assam and Puthandu in Tamil Nadu.

The Indian artists reflected this diversity. While Jassi combined elements of folk, classical and Bollywood music in his performance, Sasho delved into his ability to dance in different styles (Jazz, Hip-hop, Salsa and Indian classical) and sing in different languages (Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Hindi, Punjabi and English).

Indian Ambassador Lal T. Muana flew from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City to join the celebrations which highlighted India as a land of diverse cultures.

Organized by the Indian Business Chamber in Vietnam (Incham Vietnam), Utsav was held at the Sedona Garden of Saigon Center Tower on Le Loi Street in District 1.

Incham has been organizing UTSAV (festival) since 2007 to give Indian expats a chance to enjoy their traditional festivals and to introduce Indian culture to Vietnamese and other nationals.

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