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When people celebrate their heritages and ways of life, the spirit of revelry crosses languages, continents and cultures. And the Kalinga Mahotsav at Dhauli, a festival of Martial Dances, is celebrated very much in that spirit.For the people of Odisha Dhauli hill at the outskirts of Bhubaneswar is more a living experience than a memory. Twenty three hundred years ago, their fore fathers fought one of the fiercest battles in human history against Emperor Ashok.They suffered loss of a hundred thousand men, lost the war, but gained immortality, because they metamorphosed a warring monarch into an apostle of non-violence and peace. The festival is a fitting tribute to the victory of Peace over War where renowned dancers of India perform harmonising the vigour of martial art with sublime dance forms.The Martial dancers interpret incredible postures of aggression, self-defence and escape in graceful dance-forms with their swords, spears and shields. They thrill audiences with their rhythm and precision of movement.Kalinga Mahotsava, a fabulous feast of dizzying dancing and dynamic stage presentations, is held at the foot-hill of the famous Peace Pagoda. The Kalinga Mahotsav, showcases the vibrant traditions of martial arts of India through a colourful display of dances and music. This unique festival takes place every year on the 4th and 5th of February in front of the Dhauli stupa, the Japanese Buddhist Temple situated on a hill at the outskirts of modern Bhubaneswar. This is the place where Emperor Ashok is believed to have fought the last battle of the great Kalinga war before surrendering the sword and embracing Buddhism.The calm and solemn statue of Buddha overlooking the entire stage from the top of the stupa and the tranquil expanse of the countryside populated by paddy fields and cashew plantations provides the peaceful background to the outburst of movements and sounds which accompany the performance of the martial artists. The aim of the organisers is to harmonise the vigour of martial tradition with the sublimity of peace through the art of dance.
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