2019 PONDICHERRY HERITAGE FESTIVAL
27 January – 11 February
In its fifth year, the Pondicherry Heritage Festival continues to celebrate the character of this extraordinary town and its environs. Originally conceived to draw attention to conserve Pondicherry’s outstanding architectural legacy, the festival has expanded its scope to embrace other aspects of heritage too. It is the interplay of its diverse built environment, an idyllic seaside natural setting, a rich spiritual and intellectual history, and fascinating combination of indigenous and imported cultural practices that gives Pondicherry its distinctive flavour.
The emphasis for this year’s festival will be on Pondicherry’s splendid natural heritage, including the coast, and wetlands. The natural heritage is as much at risk as built heritage, and often gets overlooked. This year the festival will celebrate two recent success stories: completion of the first phase of Pondicherry’s beach restoration and the community effort to refurbish the ancient tank systems in Bahour. World Wetlands day will be marked with a visit to Ossudu lake, an important habitat for migratory birds, and with a photo exhibition highlighting the wetlands of the region and its biodiversity. Another exhibition will feature the sacred groves of Aiyanar.
Children’s events will start with creative expression of heritage through dance, poetry-writing, and other arts. The annual Pondicherry Heritage Quiz for teams of students from schools throughout the city remains a festival highlight. Through “Reclaiming our streets” the young and old will be reminded of the important social function our streets played before they were overwhelmed with vehicles. The festival will conclude with one hundred school children colouring the Heritage Colouring Book, launched at the 2018 festival.
Photographs of the town’s built heritage and streetscapes will be a reminder to all that it is worth preserving this heritage for future generations.
As always, the schedule will be brimming with music, dance, and the launch of a book on Pondicherry. Heritage buildings will be open for public tours, special events will feature Pondy’s cuisine with a ‘food trail’ and the “Made in Pondy” exhibition in the town’s Crafts Bazaar will feature some of the finest products and beautiful handicrafts this region produces.
Since its start in 2015, the Pondicherry Heritage Festival has always been a volunteer effort, led by the People for Pondicherry’s Heritage, INTACH and PondyCAN, with support from the Puducherry government’s Tourism Department, and institutional partners like the French Institute (IFP), the Alliance française (AFP), LAL, Gratitude Heritage Guest House, Hidesign, Palais de Mahe with PondyLive as its online media partner. As always there are many event partners, who either offer their premises or events to enrich the festival.
The organizers hope the Heritage Festival continues to strengthen the respect of Pondicherrians for the traditions and treasures of this special seaside settlement, created by the confluence of cultures in a spectacularly beautiful setting. They believe that, by celebrating our heritage, it will remain vital and Pondicherry will retain its unique character.