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Romanian treats on an Indian platter

Two groups of Romanian schoolchildren enthralled audiences here with a scintillating, high-voltage rendition of Bollywood numbers at the ongoing 10th International Children's Festival of Performing Arts.

The two groups, choir "Allegreto" and dancers "As", stood out with their flawless performance based on the festival themes of peace, unity and hope.

Romanian dance group.

One of the highlights was composer A R Rahman's Oscar award-winning composition "Jai Ho" from Slumdog Millionaire.

The show started with "Nanhe Munne Bachche" from Boot Polish and as they joyfully sang, "Mutthi mein hai taqdir hamari", everyone in the audience could not but help marvel at their immaculate pronunciation.

Allegreto began in 1974 and has so far performed in 63 international festivals in 18 different languages. It has its own repertory of more than 84 songs, mostly based on friendship and peace. They have performed on stages such as the National Opera from Athens, Greece,Venice and Bari, Italy and BBC TV studios at Istanbul.

"Although we have performed in many countries, including Turkey and Morocco, this is special as it is the first time we are performing here," Prof Adriana Codreanu, the director of the performance, said.

Some of the Romanian participants at the festival are being hosted by families of the sudents of the Ryan schools in the capital.

"All Indian people are like mothers, very warm-hearted. Staying with the families helps the children connect with the life of the people here, unlike staying in hotels, which is same everywhere," Prof Codreanu said.

For Jai Ho, Allegreto and As performed together. "It took me three weeks to learn the words ‘Jai Ho’, and while staying with the host family here, I also learned the meaning of the words," said Amal, one of the singers.

The dance group "As", meaning "the best", left the audience spellbound as they did the Bhangra to perfection on the song, "Dil bole haddipa", while simultaneously mouthing the lyrics. This made the performance an interesting mix, truly making it a Romanian delicacy on an Indian platter.

The general manager of the group, Chirita Gherasim, in his speech at the beginning of the show, decided to speak in Romanian for two reasons: he wanted the Indian audience to hear his language, and he also wanted to honour the presence of the Romanian ambassador, Valerica Epure. This symbolised the essence of this event. "As we take pride in our own cultures, it is important to appreciate others and to recognize ourselves as not only citizens of a nation but that of one world," he said.

In January 2007, children from Allegretto and their masters were awarded with a special prize as "Ambassadors of Romania's Culture".

A teenaged member of Allegretto, Mada, said, "Music is an international language. It is an important way to communicate feelings."

Romanian dance group.
Romanian dance group.

When asked how they thought music could unite people and lead to world peace, another young girl Hanaan said, "I’ll give you an example, today in the bus we and the Indian kids together sang Jai Ho, just like that. We are not different."

The festival was inaugurated on December 16 by Human Resource Development Minister Kapil Sibal.

The festival aims at helping the children to transcend physical and cultural barriers to come together in one common spirit, performing arts being the medium.

The festival has been organised jointly by Ryan Foundation, National Bal Bhavan and Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

The four-day event has over 5,000 children from countries like Pakistan, Iran, Israel, Latvia, Nigeria, Nepal, Pakistan, Romania, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Zambia, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Switzerland and Thailand, apart from the various states of India.

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