The ninth edition of the International Sand Art Festival has begun at the Chandrabhaga Beach of Konark in Odisha’s Puri district with adherence to government prescribed COVID-19 protocols.
About 70 artists from across the country are set to take part in the much-awaited festival that provides a platform for both national and international sand artists to showcase their talent.
The last few years of the festival saw enthusiastic participation from artists from countries like the United States, Russia, Singapore and Italy. This year, however, international artists will not be participating due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.
Sudarsan Pattnaik, world-renowned sand artist and Padmashree Awardee, has been appointed as Chief Curator of the festival.
“I am grateful to the tourism festival for allowing the event to take place despite the pandemic. Visitors are being allowed to enter after thermal scanning and hand sanitisation. It is a matter of great joy to be able to host very talented artists from across the country. Although we are quite sad that we will not be able to host other artists, we are hopeful that we will see their participation next year,” Pattnaik told ANI.
Several measures have been taken to ensure that protocol is followed in light of the coronavirus, including thermal scanning of visitors before entry, hand sanitisation, social distancing and pre-registration of visitors.
Artists create sculptures based on relevant themes like environment, culture and national and international affairs. This year, the main themes of the sculptures are ‘Environment’ and ‘COVID-19’.
Artists present at the event expressed their gratitude to the State Tourism Department, saying they were glad to have a platform to showcase their art.
“Odisha is the only state in the country that provides a national and international platform for this art form and gives us respect as sand artists. Other states should learn from Odisha and take more initiatives along similar lines to encourage artists,” said Madurendra Kumar, a participant from Champaran.
Every year, the festival is celebrated with great fervour in the first week of December as part of the Konark Dance Festival that is organised during the same time.