As Malaysians, we have one of the most unique social fabrics in the world; our arts, food, language, and cultural practices originate from different cultures brought together by seafarers, scholars, and seekers of prosperity.

The subsequent interweaving of cultures brought about a conglomeration of ideas and perspectives expressed in a wide range of tastes and flavours. Curry Laksa is a fine example. Curry from the Indians, santan and belacan from the Malays and noodles from the Chinese! Malaysia in a bowl. And this sort of easy, spontaneous interweaving is found in our day-to-day living, at home, at the malls, in the bandaraya, in the kampung. It’s in the way we feel about ourselves, express ourselves.

The Shantanand Festival of Arts is named after the founder of TFA – Swami Shantanand Saraswathi – who saw the need to embrace and learn from different cultures, and created works to express that inspiration. Dance dramas like Mahsuri (1988), Legend of Lady White Snake (1989), ASEAN Ramayana (1992), Taj Mahal (1995), and Butterfly Lovers (2001) are significant. He told these stories through dance and music forms found in Malaysia and succeeded in highlighting both their essence and their interpretation – much to the pleasure of a growing audience hungry for nourishment of the soul. For that is the purpose of the arts. It was his humble attempt at strengthening the interweaving of the fabric of our community.

This year’s theme for the SFA – Interweaving – looks at all the diverse beauty of our social fabric that unites us, at a time where gaping holes in this fabric seem to threaten its integrity and beauty.






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