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The 20th Congress of the International Association of Agricultural Museums (CIMA) that commenced in collaboration with the Heritage Foundation at Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, yesterday, witnessed a cultural bonanza hosted by the University in the evening in the lawns of the ‘Museum of Rural History of Punjab’, at the PAU campus. The colourful evening saw the distinguished presence of renowned scientist and World Food Prize Winner, Dr Gurdev Singh Khush, as Chief Guest, accompanied by his wife Dr Harwant Kaur Khush; Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, Ms. Surbhi Malik, IAS; Commissioner of Police, Punjab, S. Mandeep Singh Sidhu, IPS; the Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr Satbir Singh Gosal; Professor Surjit Sarkar, Vice-President of the International Association of Agricultural Museums; Curator of Agriculture and the Environment at ‘The Henry Ford Museum’, USA, Professor Debra Reid; Dr M I S Gill, the Convener of CIMA –on 17 October 2023 and Dean of the College of Horticulture and Forestry; Dr GS Buttar, Director, Extension Education; Dr Nirmal Jaura, Director, Students’ Welfare; Dr Tejinder Singh Riar, Additional Director Communication; Dr P K Chunneja, Dean of Postgraduate Studies; Deans, Directors, Officers, Dignitaries and Eminent Guests; Faculty and students.

PAU students, clad in colourful Punjabi attires welcomed PAU VC, Dr Gosal and the eminent guests to the accompaniment of dhol beats, offering delicacies like shakkarparesheerni and laddoos. The pathway, flanked by water channels and fountains, was lit with fairy lights all the way up to the majestic entrance of the Museum. The red facade of the Museum and its ornate, sturdy and huge door gave the glimpse of a ‘haveli’ of the bygone Punjabi era. The delegates from various countries and from within the country seemed mesmerized by the grandeur of the Museum. The guests were led on a tour inside the Museum by Dr Ashoo Toor, from the Communication Centre, PAU, and Dr Surbhi Mahajan from College of Community Science, who guided the team through an array of artefacts of cultural and historical significance, ranging from Harappan pottery and coins, bronze utensils, agricultural and home equipments, trinkets and jewellery; musical instruments, phulkaridaribagh etc. An ancient gramophone, still in working order, was played for the guests. The guided tour gave an exhaustive insight into the rich tapestry of Punjabi life of yore – their customs, traditions, festivals, beliefs, dresses, ornaments and music. A magical aura was recreated and the guests seemed to be transported into the 18th-19th century, trying to capture the essence of pure rustic life and its simple pleasures.

The tour of the Museum was followed by a cultural bonanza that comprised of folk songs, folk dance bhangra, fusion dance, lammi hek wale geet and a folk orchestra that was led by Vijay Yamla, the grandson of the legendary Lal Chand Yamla Jatt. The folk orchestra was the special attraction of the evening and was sponsored by students of Punjabi University, Patiala. The finale was the dhol that compelled the dancer in every soul present there to shed their inhibitions and groove to the thumping beats of the dhol. It was indeed such a gleeful moment when Dr Khush joined in the dance, inviting PAU VC Dr Gosal and others to join him. The delegates from various countries too joined in and regaled the carefree moments of joy and thrill.

The beautifully decorated lawns with shimmering lights, an exhibition of heritage artefacts, a decorated carriage with handsome horses, delicacies, sumptuous dinner, music and dance- all made the evening a memorable one. The event was coordinated by Dr Vishal Bector, Associate Director, Institutional Linkages, who later proposed a Vote of Thanks.

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