Konark (Odisha) [Indial Dec 2 (AN'): Five-day long annual Konark Festival. in the backdrop of the Sun Temple and International Sand Art Festival at Chandrabhaga beach, started in Konark on Sunday. The festival began with classical dances like Odissi and Kathak after Odisha Governor Ganeshi Lal lightened the lamp. While songs like Vande Suryam and Vande Mataram were played, dance performances including Thal Roopa. Kalia Mardan and Thal Teental were performed during the first day of the event. This year, the theme of the festival is based on eco-tourism. culture, Fairs. women empowerment. and no to plastic and heritage. Around 123 artists from across India and artists from LISA. Ireland, Denmark. Russia. Canada. Togo and Sri Lanka are participating in the Sand Art Festival. •It is a prestigious moment for us. We have been invited from Pune to perform a dance here. Nothing could be greater this moment as various different cultures are coming together: a dancer from Pune told ANL •We are glad to witness this grand festival. Everything is being done on a grand scale. From Kathak to Odissi. every dance form is being displayed here. It is a chance for tourists and artists to enjoy the cultural diversity of our country: another participant said. The festival aims to create intemational cultural amity and brotherhood amid the environment magnified by the spiritual and aesthetic flavour.