India will soon open its first Cultural Centre in the Gulf in Saudi Arabia which will be the second Indian Cultural Centre in the Arab world after Cairo, a report by Krishnan Nayar
With Expo 2020 Dubai providing a safe environment for launching mega global events since disruptions worldwide caused by COVID-19, India has used the opportunity to resume its soft power activities internationally, according to New Delhi’s chief cultural diplomat.
“We started with a big bang at the Expo 2020 Dubai,” Dinesh Patnaik, Director-General of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), told New Delhi-based foreign correspondents at a media briefing yesterday.
“At Expo 2020 Dubai, the ICCR is associated with the entire cultural organising for India’s participation. At the opening ceremony of the Indian Pavilion, we had troupes from India performing several dance forms known as Mohini Attam, Garbha and others.”
A pioneering cultural effort was to take artistes from Calcutta’s mass venues, known as puja pandals, which are makeshift halls temporarily erected during the local festival, to perform at the Indian Pavilion. West Bengal’s puja pandals have traditionally attracted millions of people for centuries during the just concluded puja festival this year.
For five days last week, ICCR troupes from India performed at the India Pavilion in celebration of Dussehra festival, which symbolises the victory of good over evil in Indian mythology. Yakshagana, traditional theatre, which originated in Karnataka state was also a feature of the ICCR’s programme during some of these days.
Even as the Pavilion transforms into a permanent exhibition on India after the conclusion of Expo 2020 Dubai, Patnaik said India would soon open its first Cultural Centre in the Gulf in Saudi Arabia. It will be the second Indian Cultural Centre in the Arab world after Cairo.
Close on the heels relaunching India’s soft power abroad with participation in Expo 2020 Dubai, Patnaik said the ICCR sent teams to take part in the ongoing celebrations in Manama marking 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between India and Bahrain. These included public festivities at the well-known landmark of Baab al Bahrain.
The ICCR was founded in 1950 by Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, India’s first Education Minister and it serves as the primary government-run forum to foster cultural relations between India and foreign countries.