July 6, 2017

Opening Ceremony : Asian Athletics Championship 2017 at Bhubaneswar

Indispire Edition 176

Do you like attending events in your city? What kind of events do you look forward to? Bloggers Meet/Lit Meet/Music or Art or Cultural Shows/Quiz/Social Causes...or any other? Share about any event that you recently attended or an upcoming one. #CityEvent


I was fortunate to attend the grand Opening Ceremony of Asian Athletics Championship 2017 (#AAC2017) yesterday. For the first time, top smart city and my home - Temple City of Bhubaneswar, Odisha, India - is hosting this prestigious meet from July 6 to 9, 2017 at our world class Kalinga Stadium. Over 800 athletes from 45 Asian countries are participating in the glorious event.


I went as part of Team Yes We Can, a group of energetic people who are on a mission to help develop Odisha completely by 2036. This event was so much fun and meaningful due to this team, for me!

Team Yes We Can: Watch out!! Awesome work being done by this team!

Amidst tight security (who did not even let us take in 200 ml bottles of water!), we entered the stadium by 3 pm shouting cries of "Bharat Mata ki Jai"! Our Utkalamrita specially designed #Olly (mascot of #AAC2017) dried palm leaf hand-painted toys were in each of the team members' hands! These generated a lot of interest among onlookers and stadium people!


The seats started filling soon after and we were happy to see huge #Olly balloons put up in the gallery corners. Big "Welcome to Odisha" banner-size printouts were distributed in the stadium for the spectators to hold up. The stage was set up with huge sleeping LED screens on four sides of it, plus huge standing LED screens around the stadium.

Source: Amrita Sabat's own mobile phone

The hosts for the evening started the cultural show at 5 pm. Ollywood (Odia movie industry) stars, famous anchor Kuna Tripathy of News Fuse fame, Odisha's own Lady Gaga Naziya all charmed the audience by their performances. Then the Chief Minister along with other VIPs arrived by 6 pm and were felicitated. The Athletics Federation Heads spoke of how they felt disappointed when Jharkhand withdrew from hosting #AAC2017 and were amazed how #Odisha successfully stood up to the challenge. The CM spoke about how Odisha is emerging as a top sporting, education, investment and manufacturing hub. Videos of building infrastructure and getting fully prepared to host this event of mega scale within 90 days, along with superb videos portraying rich Odisha Tourism, were shown, which drew great applause from one and all.


The Navy Band and the release of balloons made for spectacular music and sights! It was magic! 


Source: Amrita Sabat's own mobile phone

The marching contingents followed, led by the ever smiling #Olly and then each country's contingent was led by a lady wearing beautiful Odisha sarees. A special ovation was given by the spectators when Pakistani contingent came out marching- such is our brotherhood from the Land of Peace and from where Buddhism spread- Odisha! It was a moment of great pride when our National Anthem was played, followed by our Odisha's very own top athlete Shrabani Nanda taking oath on behalf of all athletes to participate in the games in the right sporting spirit! 


This was followed by excellent cultural evening first with a performance by the famous Prince Dance Group showing the very evolution of Solar System with the Sun; next dance showed the abundance of water and rain in Odisha and how our Kalinga traders went out in much difficulty centuries ago to do trade in South East Asia crossing the Mahanadi river waters out into the sea- our Bali Jatra; 


Source: Amrita Sabat's own mobile phone

next was series of breathtaking Odissi Dance and Acts choreographed by PadmaShri Aruna Mohanty depicting Kalinga War and transformation of Chandashok to Dharmashok - the story of Ashoka the Great; another dance portraying the life of Kalinga's Great King Kharavela, who it is said, when he raised his flag here in Utkala, then even Delhi till present Afghanistan used to tremble out of fear and respect; then came the out-of-the-world hot air balloon show which had talented foreign dancers wearing electrified LED suits...they did stunts in mid-air while hung from the balloons- a first in my lifetime experience for me and I am sure for all who witnessed it at the stadium! 

Source: Amrita Sabat's own mobile phone


Yes they are flying!

This was followed by superb performances by Mumbai group dancers. The stadium erupted in joy when famous singer Shankar Mahadevan started crooning his most popular numbers- Breathless and Koi kahe from Dil Chahta Hai. But first, he won the hearts of one and all when he sang our most poplar Odia song- "Rangabati" after having profusely praised and having taken blessings from the original singers and composer of this timeless classic song! Truly the audience went into a frenzy!


Finally the fireworks went off gloriously after this extravaganza. The only drawback was that all fireworks were concentrated only in the area above the roof of our public viewing galleries. Due to this, we (the public who had paid for their seats!) could witness almost nothing while the VIP stand bang opposite ours got the whole view, which defeated the very purpose of the fireworks. These should have been evenly placed around the stadium, which would also have given it a stupendous view from the sky above and a drone catching that spectacular fireworks display would have been the best video ever!! The hosts meanwhile thanked one and all for having made the Opening Ceremony a grand success. 


Source: Amrita Sabat's own Asus Mobile Phone

We then dispersed, saying thanks to each of our team mates but not before going around the splendid stadium which was decked up like a bride in lights and Pipli lampshades! 


Source: Amrita Sabat's own mobile phone

The special Konark Sand Art by our very own Padmashri Sudarsan Pattnaik has become the cynosure of all eyes (and selfies!) and we were not to be left behind! :)


This was just the beginning...Day 1 of the actual games is over today and India has greatest support! All eyes are also on our Odisha's four participating athletes - Shrabani Nanda, Dutee Chand, Jauna Murmu and Amiya Mallick! May the best athletes win! Jai Hind! Bande Utkala Janani!

You and I

You and I,
Have been one,
Since I don't know,

You and I,
Have been We,
Since Immemorial

Lets hold hands
And brave
The sands.
The winds.
The tides.

Lets cross the seas
Scale the heights
Of ecstasy.

And become
As one

For now
And forever
In dreams,
And reality....

Source: http://titaniumwarrior.deviantart.com/art/Just-You-and-I-119624782

April 18, 2017

#MoreIndianThanYouThink In India and Beyond

Our Indianness lies in our culture- our food, dress, festivals, music, dances, architecture, literature and lots more, apart from one most important thing- our behaviour. The way we embrace every other culture into ours, the way we mix and gel with people from the world over. No wonder our Indians are spread out across the world.

Our adaptability and hardiness anywhere in the world stands us in good stead. We make people our friends and any country our home, while we give the best of hospitality to every foreigner who comes to our country. India is the great land of "Atithi Devo Bhava"- the Guest is our God.

In the quest to grow our about-to-turn-two startup Utkalamrita, we have had ample such experiences with people from the world over- both when we visited various countries, and when people from many countries interacted with us- physically or by virtual means.

Sydney Royal Easter Show- 2016, Sydney, Australia

 Our #Odisha #crafts and #weaves have attracted people in every international and national fair that we have participated in.

Chinese New Year Shopping Festival- 2016, Chengdu, China

Even on social media, these unique #Odisha #weaves and #handmades have garnered their own set of followers.

I want to draw your attention to one particular most graceful US citizen called Stacy Jacobs. When Indian women in India and elsewhere are abhorring to drape a saree, here is a lady who has perfected the art of saree wearing by watching youtube and by practising for hours herself. She has become so good at it that after she recently ordered some of our gorgeous #OdishaWeaves, she has actually so far presented three different styles of draping one of them in three different posts- our masterpiece #dongria #tribal saree!

Today's #protestsaree sound bite comes from far, far away Odisha; a state on the eastern edge of India and the home of @utkalamrita This classic pure cotton Dongria tribal saree has been called "a rare collectors' textile," and I am #alwaysingratitude for the privilege of wearing it. The Dongria are a poor but mighty people who never give up. #imwiththem Quit looking at the stuff in my room and notice the awesome hand-painted blouse. Stella definitely approved, so that was good. I chose this saree today to remember the men and women who labor invisibly and in suffering in order to sustain my #whiteprivilege The @fash_rev is coming. Who made your clothes? #sareenotsorry #sareeonmovement #iwearhandloom #whomademyclothes #didyougetthatinindia (yes, directly from a bright and tenacious girl in Bhubaneswar @utkalamrita - definitely check her out. She seems to have some magic with FedEx, because I received my gorgeous sarees in the blink of an eye. )
A post shared by Stacy Jacobs (@stajo12) on

The best thing is how I had just hinted about our state Odisha, her rich culture and told her tidbits about the Dongria Tribe via watsapp, and we found she had done complete research about this hardy tribe which has been fighting a battle against a mighty British mining company! She uses the hashtag #protestsaree  and #whiteprivilege and stands with all the people suffering anywhere in the world. With a most humantitarian base of ideas, she is a global citizen.

#Repost @stajo12 thanks so much dear! :) #bhubaneswarbuzz #shoutout #iwearhandloom ・・・ Why is this night different from all other nights? On Passover, Jewish families come together to remind one another that back in the day, they were slaves. Way back in the day. Then their all-purpose, good for everything God rained down a lot of stuff on the bad guys and rescued the slaves. Yay God. And what's your superpower? Ours is remembering. Remembering that bad things happen to good people for reasons we will never understand. We remember that everything has a beginning, a middle, and an end. We remember that we who have been so fortunate, we who were rescued from our anguish and despair, we have a responsibility to stand up for and stand with all who are oppressed. And we remember that no matter how hard it seems or how impossible the problem, we never ever give up. Just like the Dongria Kondh, the small but mighty tribe from Odisha who battled a giant British company and won, against all odds. This heirlooom Dongria saree came to me from @utkalamrita and I am #alwaysingratitude
A post shared by Utkalamrita (@utkalamrita) on

Not just Odisha sarees, she wears #handloom #sarees from across the length and breadth of India by ordering from various Indian sellers and websites. Not just from India, but as Indian designers are worldwide she sources the prettiest things from literally the world over. The most heartening thing about her is- She is #alwaysingratitude. This points to an eternal spiritual state of bliss. Her every post personifies #MoreIndianThanYouThink. She truly is. The below is my favorite:

Should I wear my hair in a ponytail? Should I dress myself up in chanel? Do I measure me by what you think? Absolutely not, absolutely not If I go to work in a mini-skirt Am I givin' you the right to flirt? I won't compromise my point of view Absolutely not, absolutely not Today I drape my #whiteprivilege in six magnificent yards of handloomed hand-block-printed kalamkari-inspired saree from @designerayushkejriwal You may be familiar with the uber-elegant black saree with green and gold border made famous by the breathtaking beauty and my personal saree-style inspiration @balanvidya What attracted me to Ayush is the ease with which he articulates his brand ethos and the straightforward way he writes about style. This gorgeous #protestsaree stands for the rights of women everywhere to be fully and freely ourselves. Am I not Indian enough to wear this traditional motif? Am I putting myself at risk in this culture by wearing the garments from another? Are you too Indian to wear that miniskirt? Should you wear that in the evening? Do the opinions of others about what is appropriate have anything to do with me? #absolutelynot. #iwearhandloom #deborahcox #bekind #bestrong #befearless #alwaysingratitude #indianfashion #sareelove #sareenotsorry #sareeonmovement #keepcalmandsareeon #didyougetthatinindia (Nope! This beauty came from Scotland!) #diversitymatters Photo by my lovely @kate.jacobs
A post shared by Stacy Jacobs (@stajo12) on

Stacy thinks and dresses many times like a proud Indian, her philosophy is very Indian and that is how she is a world citizen admired by so many the world over. Her posts are full of admiration and respect for an upholder of values and a fighter against injustice. Just like this ad by Lufthansa tells you:

There are many stories like this to share. When we are promoting Indian handloom and crafts, then all the more so! The forthcoming posts will talk more. Until then, think like an Indian- be creative, ingenious, compassionate and the world will love and respect you more! :)

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