Panchkula (Haryana), April 13 (Agency)
With hundreds of artistes from all parts of the country assembled here, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Friday evening inaugurated the silver jubilee celebrations of the seven zonal cultural centres (ZCCs) of the country at a specially created village arena in this Haryana town, 15 km from Chandigarh.
Christened 'Maati ke Rang', the year-long celebrations to mark the 25 years of setting up of the ZCCs will showcase the cultural heritage of various parts of the country. The inaugural event itself will be held at the arena here for four days (April 13-16).
The prime minister said that the vision showed by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1985 had translated into the success of the ZCCs which had been able to promote the rich culture of the country successfully.
Accompanied by National Advisory Council chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who was dressed in a blue saree with a golden border, the prime minister inaugurated the four-day event Friday evening.
In her address in Hindi at the event, Sonia Gandhi said: "It seems like yesterday that Rajiv Gandhi ji inaugurated the first centre (ZCC) at Patiala in 1985. He showed the vision to promote something that could showcase the rich cultural heritage of India. This has now become a big movement."
Scores of artists from various states performed dances on the occasion.
A total of 1,873 artists from the country will enthrall the audiences with their performances at the celebrations, D.S. Saroya of the North zone cultural centre (NZCC), the host centre, said.
"The celebration will mark the completion of 25 years of zonal cultural centres. The year-long celebrations which would culminate in February 2013," Saroya said.
The zonal cultural centres operate as hubs of culture all over India.
The organizers had a harrowing time in the past 24 hours as a late night thunderstorm accompanied by winds in excess of 110 km per hour, damaged the special arena created for the celebrations.
"We had to re-create many damaged things literally overnight for the inaugural event to take place today," one organizer said.
Tight security arrangements were in place in Panchkula and Chandigarh owing to the visit of the prime minister and Sonia Gandhi together. Some roads were closed for traffic by the police to enable the VVIP movement.