The historical and cultural legacy of India continues to be in centre of spotlight because of its tumultuous and interesting shift in power and the various ways in which it impacted the social, cultural and political landscape of the country.
The past 5 centuries have been witness to the most dynamic shift in political power what with the beginning of the Mughal rule right after the demise Delhi Sultanate. The entire period of the Mughal dynasty contributed to the already existing Isamic influences that gave rise to the Indo-Islamic culture and changed the course of Indian clothes, music, food, architecture and the arts.
Gradually, in the later half of the 16th century, the culture received a further boost in the form of the Bhakti Movement which is most popularly known for gifting us with Sufism as a new perspective on spirituality as well as a new school of music. Architecture also received a new direction with works or art such as the Taj Mahal, the Buland Darwaza, the Jama Masjid, etc.
In terms of food, perhaps we bengalis are most grateful to the Mughals for their rendition of the Biriyani, which we have since made our own.
The Colonial era in the 18th century paved the easy for the westernization of the country along with a political awakening that resulted in the concept of a “nation” for the first time. Political and cultural unity, revolution and reforms were the order of the day. As a result, the independence movement secured a position in the production of new art forms. Literature, music and other forms of performing art came to be imbued with the patriotic spirit and became a weapon of political resitance in their own right.
Such revolutions eventually brought about political freedom from the British, however, it added a sense of religious divide into the fabric of Indian culture. But the diversity and the inclusivity of the country’s religions and cultures are proof of a resistance that is still ongoing against any divisive forms of religious agenda. The cohesiveness of the country’s diverse identity is the biggest answer to the colonial attempt at “divide and rule”.
The NABC opens its conference this year with a dance drama that takes us through a journey of division, revolution and triumph as well as music and dance and the arts that have given Indian culture its current shape and form today.