By Humra Laeeq
India and Egypt are planning to go beyond traditional politics this time. Egypt’s largest foreign festival called India by the Nile commenced on March 06,’18 and promises a treat for its audiences. The festival is supposed to be 12 days long ending by March 18, 2018, taking place across Cairo, Port Said and Alexandria. A cultural collaboration meant to promote and acquaint the foreign audience with Indian tastes, the festival stands for a symbol laden with a responsibility of representing India at the international front. But what is the significance of the festival and how do we, as Indian citizens miles away from Egypt respond to an event that talks so much about us?
The essence of the festival
India by the Nile was first held in 2013 in Alexandria and Cairo when the Indian Embassy and the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture in collaboration with Teamwork Arts gave a green signal to the idea. The idea of the festival was such to hold visual and performing arts of Indian origin, the diverse culture of different Indian zones through the depiction of their respective food, dances, theatre and music, literature, cultural fests and crafts.
Back in 2013, the festival was a massive success when it gathered Egyptian audience in large numbers in addition to media coverage and reportage as well as International scrutiny. The festival initiated contacts between Indian craftsmen and artists and Egyptian counterparts. This artistic relation was amplified through subsequent years with the migratory exchange of artists across the two countries. Additionally, the festival came to be held in multiple cities. Local collaborations between Indians and Egyptians in the corporate sector were increased to enhance informal ties and friendship between the two nations.
The plan for 2018 expansion
The theme for 2018 has been ‘classical culture‘ of India incorporating yoga, traditional dances and music. Yet, India’s Ambassador Sanjay Bhattacharyya plans to have it made contemporary so that it can connect with modern audiences. Performances of Sarod maestro Amjad Ali Khan were held at Cairo and Alexandria on March 8 and 10 along with a contemporaneous taste of Sufi music. This year, they have added two new events-that of a fashion show to showcase Indian clothing aesthetic and the evermore colourful Indian cinema. Tarun Tahiliani was on the guest list. Photography exhibition by Khaled Gawdat, a doctor specializing in India would showcase his aesthetic for Indian landscape and people. For foodies, an entire weeklong event commenced on March 10 where Indian celebrity chef Vikram Udaygiri curated an Indian menu from the diverse kinds of Indian foods. For dances and entertainment, Bollywood choreographer Gilles Chuyenwill light up the stage.
India on the global stage
Cultural exchange has historically proven to initiate contact between countries. Since the earliest exploration, trade and exchange between countries help establish formal and informal ties between them, one of the many forces that strengthen International binds and internationalize a country’s image in a global scenario. In case of India, the cultural diversity it holds and has held throughout history has largely been underground partly because Western imperial forces have dominated culturally across the world. India by the Nile is a novel attempt to reintroduce its culture anew to a western audience. All the more, with the internationalization of Indian culture and taste, we can invite widespread critical acclaim. The exchange of culture will occur two ways, beneficial to both countries. What’s more, Indian authentic crafts industry which faded away mostly due to the arrival of Western consumerist culture has a chance of revival and economic sustenance. With an exchange that promises a jolly time for people around the world, an atmosphere of acceptance and appreciation is on its way.