Cultural links between Stornoway and India go from strength to strength as celebrated Purvai festival travels to India.

  • Published on: 18th January 2018
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Media release – 15th January 2018

Cultural links between Stornoway and India go from strength to strength as celebrated Purvai festival travels to India.

An Lanntair celebrates the continued success of its Festival of South Asian Art and Culture, Purvai in 2018 as the festival travels to India for some very special events and live performances. The festival, held in Stornoway, was a signature event for Scotland’s Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.

The Purvai Festival engaged audiences with the rich history that exists between India and Scotland, celebrating and exploring the South Asian cultural heritage that is an integral part of Scotland today. Purvai was originally inspired by the life and collection of Stornoway born Colonel Colin Mackenzie, who became the first Surveyor General of India.

Now the headline and YHHA Signature event concert from the festival, Yatra (meaning Journey), which told the journey of Mackenzie from the Hebrides to India through a confluence of Gaelic vocal traditions and Indian Rag, will be performed to audiences in India. Firstly at the Queen Elizabeth Cup Reception on the 9th of Feb and a large scale performance will take place at The India Museum on the 10th of February.

To bring ‘Yatra’ back to India and for it to be performed at The India Museum is hugely poignant and befitting for the project, as Colin Mackenzie life’s work and collection was dedicated to documenting, sharing and understanding the ancient art and cultures of India.

The musicians will include:
Dalbir Singh Rattan – Lead composer and Tabla
Kathleen MacIness – vocals
Aziz Ibrahim – Guitar
Kaviraj Singh – Vocals and Santoor
Jane Hepburn – Violin
Neil Johnstone – Cello
Rhona Johnstone – Violin

Alongside the live performances Purvai, in partnership with The Edinburgh International Book Festival, will continue its New Passages Project.
In 2017 An Lanntair and Edinburgh International Book Festival developed New Passages, a special, year-long project commemorating both the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and the partition of India.

New Passages as part of the Purvai project, also uses the Mackenzie Collection as its axis. Scottish writers, having travelled to the Hebrides to view the collection and birth place of Mackenzie, Nalini Paul and Abir Mukhrjee, are now writing on their discoveries and personal responses to that journey.

In collaboration with the Apeejay Kolkata Literary Festival in Kolkata, the writers have carried out a week-long residency continuing their journey and research into the Mackenzie Collection. They met and collaborated with Indian counterpart writers, Sandip Roy and Sampurna Chattarji.

This partnership between Apeejay Kolkata Literature Festival, An Lanntair’s Purvai Project and Edinburgh International Book Festival is supported by the British Council through their UK India 2017 fund.

For a full press release and more information on New Passages please contact:
Frances Sutton, Press Manager, Edinburgh International Book Festival
07841 579481 or

For more information on An Lannair and Purvai please contact Kathryn Lamont Smith, Head of Marketing at 01851708480 or

Notes to Editor
• An Lanntair is a multi-disciplinary Arts Centre in Stornoway on the Isle of Lewis.
• An Lanntair is a registered charity – SC003287
• An Lanntair is supported by Creative Scotland, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Point & Sandwich Trust.
• Founded in 1814 at the cradle of the Asiatic Society of Bengal. The Indian Museum is the earliest and the largest multipurpose Museum in the Asia-Pacific region of the world.

The British Council
• The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We work with over 100 countries in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. We make a positive contribution to the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. Founded in 1934 we are a UK charity governed by Royal Charter and a UK public body. We receive 15 per cent core funding grant from the UK government.
Edinburgh Book International Festival
• Edinburgh International Book Festival is the world’s largest public celebration of the written word, welcoming over 800 authors and an audience of 240,000 to Edinburgh every August. Booked!, the Edinburgh International Book Festival on the road around Scotland throughout the year, is supported by players of People’s Postcode Lottery.