PONDICHERRY HERITAGE FESTIVAL 2021

CONCEPT OF THE PONDICHERRY HERITAGE FESTIVAL

Popular destinations across the world such as New York, Berlin, Paris and Sydney continue to attract a wide audience from all spheres of life and are a melting pot for cross-cultural exchanges. Pondicherry also has this element of bringing together a diverse population of tourists and travellers looking for something to coax them into a new, exciting, passionate and yet peaceful lifestyle and environment. There is an unseen touch in how Pondicherry invites people of all cultures and yet retains its own, which expands beyond the exotic charm of its beautiful architectural heritage and sandy beaches.
Magical yet ordinary to the casual eye, the city harbours a deeper meaning and connection to the intangible realms of beauty, wisdom, tranquillity and harmony. This has led Pondicherry to become a universal platform for positive inner change and has inspired an inclusive, collective and inspiring evolution towards a future, long foreseen by the sages of Yore. The marriage of spirituality and material research is a trademark of Pondicherry’s excellence and uniqueness.
On November 29th 2014, the collapse of the Marie building (Town Hall) of Pondicherry, which was built in 1870 to accommodate the offices for the Mayor of Pondicherry, led to the realization that the need to conserve and celebrate the heritage of Pondicherry is immense. A group thus emerged from the civil society called “People for Pondicherry’s Heritage” (PPH) and conceived the idea of the Pondicherry heritage festival, first of which was held in 2015 and became an annual event. The Pondicherry heritage festival is being organised by People for Pondicherry’s heritage (PPH), INTACH Pondicherry and PondyCAN.
The main objectives for the Pondicherry heritage festival are:
a) To create and strengthen this distinct identity of belonging and being Pondicherrian for all it’s residents
b) To show its unique character in all its variety to visitors who come from all over the country and the world attracted by the idea of “Pondicherry”
c) To create a platform for experts, Historians and old residents to meet and discuss what is special about Pondicherry and how we can preserve our town.

The charm and beauty of Pondicherry presents a unique challenge to the government and civil society organizations interested in protecting and restoring its built heritage. Unlike the monuments and National Parks under the purview of the Archaeological Survey of India, the architectural style of Pondicherry is a melange of private and government buildings.
Pondicherry has two distinct parts namely, the French and Tamil quarters. The French quarter has structures built in the European classical style whereas those in Tamil quarter are built in the vernacular style of Tamil Nadu. The two construction methods have influenced one another resulting in a harmonious blend of both styles in many buildings. Pondicherry’s unique architectural style is an inheritance of which we are but today’s custodians. It is our responsibility to preserve the essence of this built heritage for the future generations. It is with this wide vision that the Pondicherry Heritage Festival sought to explore the various facets of the town’s culture, spiritual heritage, contributions to the world of art, literature, folk and classical music and dance, traditional and contemporary crafts and the work done by many organizations, institutions and individuals towards understanding and preserving the heritage of the town.

EVOLUTION OF PONDICHERRY HERITAGE FESTIVAL

Now in its third year, the Pondicherry Heritage Festival continues to celebrate the singular character of this extraordinary town and its environs. In the first year, attention was drawn to Pondicherry’s outstanding architectural legacy, it’s spiritual heritage and intangible heritage. The following year, 2016, the festival celebrated Pondicherry’s natural heritage, explored its heritage through the written word, visual arts and performing arts. In 2017, besides celebrating architectural, intangible and natural heritage, the festival focused on one of Pondicherry most ancient heritage, at Bahour. There was also an expansion of the festival this year with several local organisations and individuals actively involved & organising events, under the Pondicherry Heritage Festival banner. This overwhelming response made the heritage festival a month-long event usually from mid Jan to mid Feburary.
“Coming together to celebrate Pondicherry’s rich & diverse heritage”
The success of the Pondicherry heritage festival is due to the active participation of our festival partners and new participants.