New Delhi, Mar 24 (PTI) In a first, cultural integration will be witnessed at Gujarat’s famous Madhavpur Mela where a group of 150 people from the Northeast will be given a traditional welcome as part of efforts to symbolise the country’s unity in diversity, Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said today.

The four-day mela is being organised from March 25 to 28 in Madhavpur Ghed, district Porbandar.

“The purpose of this integration is to bring various parts of the country especially the Northeast, close to each other under the banner of Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Sharma said during a press conference.

He said that the Madhavpur Mela shares its connect with the Mishmi tribe of Arunachal Pradesh. The Mishmi tribe traces its ancestry to the legendary King Bhishmak and through him to his daughter Rukmini and Lord Krishna, Sharma said.

“For the first time ever, the festival will celebrate the immortal journey which Rukmini undertook from Arunachal Pradesh to Gujarat with Lord Krishna,” he said.

The culture minister said that the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), Manav Sangrahalay of the Ministry of Culture and the states of Gujarat, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and others have joined hands to give a new dimension to the festival.

“A group of 150 persons from the Northeast will be given a traditional welcome at Madhavpur Mela as representatives of Rukmini’s family. The entire concept of celebration this year is in the spirit of ‘Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat’ campaign and symbolises unity in diversity of the country and establishes the East to West connect,” he said.

The ministry officials said that all the Union Territories and states except West Bengal are participating in the Ek Bharat Shrestha Bharat campaign and have been paired for the purpose of exchanges at the level of students, sports and through culture.

“Some of the local sites and temples connected to the Madhavpur festival have been upgraded by the Culture Ministry and connecting the Northeast through such kind of events and cultural exchanges will now be made a regular feature,” said Raghvendra Singh, Secretary, Ministry of Culture.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.