All 88 people from Himachal Pradesh in Mecca safe: CM

Shimla, September 25, 2015: Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh while presiding over the International Arts and Craft festival organised by Goa based event management group ‘SPANDAN’ in association with Institute of Integrated Rural Development (IIRD) at historic Gaiety Theatre here today said that such type of events gives a platform to the artists to interchange and understand their traditions and customs, besides it also gives an opportunity to showcase their talent, may it be in the field of art, music or dance.
The first of its kind in Himachal Pradesh, the festival will give a platform to the artists from across the length and breadth of the country and an opportunity to the people of the state to have glimpse of the rare craft & art-forms, he said, adding that it would give impetus to art and craft lovers around the globe.
It is a great moment that 200 artists will exhibit their art work during the 45 days festival both in Shimla and Dharamsala, he said, adding that the unique feature of the festival was the art and craft exhibition by the Army personnel and their families bringing forth the new perspective of the ‘Fauji World’ besides revealing the softer talent hidden behind the courage and chivalry of army Jawans. 
The Chief Minister said that Himachal was a treasure house of various forms of art and culture as evident from its age old rich traditions, paintings on Chamba Rumal (Handkerchief) which is famous world wide, its Kangra Paintings of ancient times depicting scenes of Courtyards and Gods and Goddesses, its handloom and handicraft, its temple architecture etc.
This reminds me of the clear direction for preservation of traditional architecture of the ancient old temples of the State said the Chief Minister. No alteration would be tolerated in designs and architect of temples of the State; he said adding that even the ancient glory of the historic Gaiety Theatre was maintained while renovating it. Similarly the old wood craft work on the temples, its architecture, won’t be allowed to changes while renovating or repairing them.
To organise such functions and to provide an opportunity to the artists or to host any type of cultural events or exhibitions, the government mulls to open Indoor Stadiums in all the district headquarters of the State for which a provision of Rs. 25 crore has been made, said Sh. Virbhadra Singh. This will give a fillip to host big cultural events all over the State and would also add to the inflow of tourists and artists of repute from all over, he said.
Sh. Virbhadra Singh also honoured a differently-abled girl child of RKMV college Shimla named Muskan for performing on the occasion. Muskan is out of those differently-abled children adopted by Umang Foundation, an NGO to provide them higher studies.
He said that those people or NGO’s which work with dedication for the welfare of the society and for upliftment of the poor, weaker and downtrodden sections needs to be recognised and honoured as it also sets an example for the others to follow the suit.
The Chief Minister also presented ‘Life Time’ SPANDAN achievement award to Dr. J.C.Kuniyal for his contribution in solid waste management and strategic environmental assessment issues. 
He presented SPANDAN award in Visual Arts to Om Prakash Sujanpuri a renowned artist from Sujanpur Tihra. Sh. Om Prakash has painted more than 2500 pahari miniature paintings, mural paintings of temples etc. 
The Chief Minister honoured Sarabjit Singh, a Shimla based Philanthropist the SPANDAN award in social service sector, to Umang Foundation, a Shimla based NGO for protection of rights of the most vulnerable sections of the society including differently-abled. SPANDAN award to Jagori Rural Charitable Trust (JRCT) in social service sector particularly famous for addressing the issues of adolescent girls and women. JRCT is working as service provider under the Domestic Violence Act, 2005.
The Chief Minister also presented the award to Kavita Thakur, hailing from Jagatsukh, Manali in Sports sector. Kavita was a part of the Indian Women Kabaddi Team during Asian Games 2014 held at Incheon in Korea which won the Gold Medal.
Kavita also presented a book to the Chief Minister titled ‘Mere Priye’ by famous artist and writer Ira Tak.
Earlier, Sh. Virbhadra also inaugurated Painting Exhibition and evinced keen interest in the paintings and appreciated the art-form which presented breathtaking mélange of imagination, perspective and style.
While interacting with media later, the Chief Minister expressed grief over the demise of more than 700 pilgrims in Mecca and hoped early recovery of the injured. He said that there were as many as 88 people from the State in Mecca and all were safe. He said that the festival will include exhibition, craft Melas, art contests, artist’s interaction and other activities.
Curator and Organiser of the festival, Anant Vikas welcomed the Chief Minister and appreciated the efforts and co-operation extended to him by the people of Himachal Pradesh. He also detailed about the itinerary of the 45 days art festival to be held in Shimla and Dharamsala. He said that this was a fourth major art festival by SPANDAN, which provides a platform to bring    
together talented artists from across India and the world. The last three SPANDAN festivals were organised in Gujarat, Goa and New Delhi, he said.
Sh. Anant thanked the Chief Minister and the people of the State for making this festival a grand success.
Forest Minister, Thakur Singh Bharmouri, Mayor, Sanjay Chauhan, Director, Information and Public Relations, MP Sood, Director, Art, Language and Culture, Arun Sharma and elite of the town was present on the occasion.
Friday, September 25, 2015