13 August 2016
Lagos Island stood still on Saturday as Afro-Asian showcased their cultures at the first-ever Indo-Nigerian festival and carnival.
The carnival, which began with a road-show from the popular CMS Bus Stop on the Marina ended at the Tafawa Balewa Square with a brilliant display of both Nigerian and Asian cultures.
Participants at the festival said it was symbolic adding that it heralded peace at a time many parts of the globe were experiencing crises.
They lauded the initiative saying it would further promote strong bilateral relations between Nigeria and India.
A senior lecturer from the Mayapur Institute, West Bengal, India, Mr Srivas Das, described the festival as wonderful as it accommodated all cultures.
Das, who hails from Ghana, said that the festival would promote peace, which the world so much desired.
“This year’s festival is unique as it is the first time that Nigerians and Indians were celebrating together,’ he said.
According to him, the Indian festival is a very ancient one, dating back to about 5,000 years ago.
He noted that the festival involved all religions, “since we all came from the same source.
“Everyone is governed by the same laws.
“Religion is more or less a syllabus that is meant to bind everyone together; unfortunately, it is dividing mankind.
“This festival is already creating unity between Nigeria and India.’’
Also, Mr Bhakti Swami, a businessman from South Africa, said the festival was very colourful, adding that it was like the rainbow.
“We saw different Nigerian artists on display during the road show.
“My impression is that through festivals, we can further promote unity in diversity among the countries of the world.
“Cultures are what people are,’’ Swami said.
To Mr Sanjay Srivastava, an Indian engineer resident in Nigeria, this was the first time that Indians and Nigerians celebrated the Indian festival together.
According to him, the festival is one of the platforms used to showcase what Nigeria and India have in common – food, music, culture, and natural medicine.
Srivastava said that the sharing of knowledge and culture between Nigeria and India could generate a lot of revenue for both countries.
“If you observe, nobody is selling alcohol, chicken or meat at any of the stands.
“We want to use the festival to train people on how to live healthily,’’ Srivastava said.
He said that about 20 diplomats had indicated interests in participating at the festival and commended the Lagos State Government for its contributions to the staging of the festival.
“The governor is very happy and excited about the festival and he ensured that adequate security was provided free-of-charge for the festival,’’ Srivastava added.
A veteran Nigerian actor, Mr Abiodun Ayoyinka, (a.k.a Papa Ajasco) while commending the organisers of the festival, decried the poor turn-out of people.
He noted that the entrance fee to the venue of the festival was also on the high side.
“Carnival or festival is not all about money. The organisers would have either made it free or charge affordable prices,’’ Ayoyinka said.
He commended the heavy presence of security personnel at the venue to forestall any breach of public peace.
No fewer than 100 exhibitors showcased their products at the festival.
The colourful event brought together the richest and the best display of African and Asian cultures, music, food and dance.
Students paid N1,000, adults paid N3,000, while dignitaries paid N7,000, as gate fees to get to the pavilion.