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A passage to India

May 22. 2015
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By Special to The Nation

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After four months and thousands of visitors, the Festival of India comes to an end
The four-month long “Festival of India in Thailand”, which has featured an exciting array of music, dance and art events, draws to an end today with two unique and exclusive events.
The first is the photo exhibition “India through the Lens” of Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn”.
The exhibition, which is showing at Chulalongkorn University Museum, comprises a series of pictures taken by the Princess during her many trips to India that paint a fascinating portrait of ordinary people, not-so-well-known cities like Lucknow, Sikkim, Ahmedabad and Nagaland, as well as such varied subjects as tea estates, cow pens, solar heaters and a software training centre.
In his opening speech at the exhibition on May 15, Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha praised the Princess’s photographic skills. “Her photos are not only artistically valuable, but reflect her vision and tell many stories that she would like to tell. For every Thai citizen who comes to see the photos, it is like listening to the tales told through them,” he said. The Princess’ 30 |photos of India do, indeed tell many “tales” of India. 
The exhibition’s curator was so struck by the Princess’ “easy connection with people” that he enlarged many of the faces, adding a larger-than-life dimension to the show. These images include kids at school, young girls smiling shyly from a balcony, a shopkeeper in his grocery shop, a man frying food on the street, tribal folks in their native attire and folk dancers.
The Princess’ captions are as charming as the photos.
For the image of the smiling children, she writes “No Class on Children’s Day-Hurrah!” while her caption for an image of Buddha behind barricades is “The Buddha Protected.”
The Princess will visit the exhibition today and also preside over the festival’s last event, “Words on Water”, a literary interaction with top Indian authors, which starts at 2pm in Chulalongkorn University’s main hall..
The authors include Vikas Swarup, whose book “Q & A” led to the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire, and Namita Gokhale, who has written 12 books and is also the co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival. 
Also taking part in the discussions are Arshia Sattar, noted for her translation of the “Ramayana”, Shailendra Gulhati, who has written many books on Shiva, Shobhaa De, celebrity-columnist and writer, and Amrita Tripathi, a popular journalist and TV anchor, who after interviewing global icons like Lady Gaga, is now creating waves as a writer herself.
Indian ambassador Harsh Vardhan Shringla is proud of the success of this year’s |festival, which has intrduced a wealth of contemporary artists to Thai audiences. He hopes the festival will become a yearly event in Thailand, pointing out that the two countries share many close bonds in religion, art and |culture.

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