It gives me great pleasure to invite you all to CONFLUENCE, A Festival of India in Australia from August to November 2016. The Festival was announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his historic visit to Australia in November 2014. Working closely with India’s Ministry of Culture and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and in association with the Australia’s Department of Communications and the Arts, we have chosen some of the finest elements from the rich tapestry of Indian culture and civilization for our friends in Australia.

Over a twelve week period, lovers of culture and entertainment in Adelaide, Alice Springs Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney will have the opportunity to savour an extraordinary range of performances. They will see the virtuosity of Nrityagram and Kalakshetra deemed as among the best dance companies in the world present the classical Odissi and Bharatanatyam dance forms; they will be mesmerized by the life sized puppets by contemporary puppeteer Dadi Pudumjee in Transposition; they will sway to Raghu Dixit’s unique mix of world music; they will soak in the spell-binding words and music of Sonam Kalra’s Sufi Gospel Project; and they will join Bollywood flash mobs and dance workshops at some of Australia’s most iconic locations; and they will want more.

And so we will offer a rib-tickling Indian take on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, seasoned with an exhibition of political cartoons by India Today’s Ajit Ninan. He will converse with David Pope, Mark Knight and other Aussie counterparts about the unusual hazards of political humour even as our more serious friends engage with renowned architect Bijoy Jain who will set up the MPavilion in Melbourne. Or reflect on Vibhor Soghani’s installation ‘Mahatma in Me’ ; or indeed attend the conference Yoga: Science of Infinite Possibilities which will juxtapose ancient Indian wisdom with the latest medical research.

But can we have a conversation between India and Australia without even a passing reference to bat and ball? I think not! Cricket Connections is a multimedia narration of that unique thread that binds us like no other.

From the Opera House in Sydney to Federation Square in Melbourne, from QPAC in Brisbane to the Festival Centre in Adelaide, from the Old Parliament in Canberra to the Concert Hall in Perth, the Festival of India will enthrall audiences, foster collaborations between our artists and create cultural bonds like never before. It will also provide a boost to tourism and to the art precincts in these cities. The ambition and scale of the Festival reflects the importance that India and Australia attach to a dynamic and vibrant relationship. The generous financial and other support from the Government of India, from Australia’s Department of Communications and Art and from some of the leading Indian and Australian corporates also reflects the shared interest in transforming this relationship, in taking it to the next level.

I look forward to seeing you at the Festival.

With best wishes