Exploring Indian Cultural Heritage

Our Festival of Lights event promises to bring a taste of India to Aylesbury. To help you get in the mood, let’s explore the stories behind some of the delights that are in store.

Bollywood Dancing

Did you know that Bollywood produces as many as 1000 films a year! There are a wide variety of genres, but the most popular is an emotive extravaganza of colour, music and storytelling. With strong characters, memorable soundtracks and impressive backdrops, this is pure escapism.

The elaborate dance routines are the pinnacle of the movie and we are over the moon that Bollywood choreographer and dance performer, Jay Kumar, is running dance workshops and demonstrations at our festival!

If you want to get inspired, there are plenty of films to choose from. I’d recommend the visual delights of Bajirao Mastani, Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gam, the classic Diwale Dulhama Le Jayenge or for a modern twist Street Dancer.

Beautiful Saris

One of the delights of any Bollywood film is the saris that actresses wear. Rich in colour and embellished with detailed embroidery, they exude opulence.

‘Sari’ is the Sanskrit word for a strip of cloth. It sounds so simple, yet that piece of fabric is usually 4-9 yards of cotton or silk. Free from zips, buttons or other fastenings, it is draped around the body in a variety of folds, pleats tucks and wraps.

The Nivi drape is the most widely known, yet regional preferences, fabric, length and style all influence how a sari is worn. As beautiful pieces of rich and adorned textiles, saris are often presented as gifts and many are passed through the generations as heirlooms.

Although many women now chose to wear a salwar (tunic and trouser suit) or western clothes, the sari remains the outfit of choice for weddings and celebrations. There will be the chance to try on a sari at the festival – with experienced wearers on hand to manage the draping.

Melodic Musical Instruments

Music is part of celebrations around the world and India has a rich musical heritage. Music is played to connect us with Goddess Saraswati; the holder of music knowledge and wisdom. Let me introduce five Indian instruments that you may not have heard of.

  1. Shehnai – this double-reed, tapered wind instrument with a metal end. It was originally played in the royal courts and is now a familiar sound at all celebrations.
  2. Sitar – with its elegant, long neck, this stringed instrument is a member of the lute family. The player plucks the multiple strings with a metal plectrum to create a unique sound.
  3. Tabla – the principal percussion instrument in classical and modern Indian music, a table is a pair of hand drums that produce a rhythmic beat.
  4. Dhol – a different kind of drum, the Dhol is a large, double-ended, barrel-shaped instrument. Carried around the neck it is played as part of folk music and celebratory parades.
  5. Jaltarangam – This instrument consists of 18 porcelain dishes arranged on a semi-circular base. The vessels are filled with water to alter their pitch and stuck with bamboo to create music.

We are delighted to welcome professional sitar player Mamta Sharma and Dhol drummers to Aylesbury’s festival of lights. Come along and discover these wonderful instruments.

Time to Lift the Spirits

Music, dance, colour and good company are all known to lift the spirits, so come along and get involved in this day of community celebration! Check out the event details and book your place on some of our fabulous workshops.