Grand Celebration of Arabic Musical Culture Day in Delhi by Arabic Music Troupe
| Onkareshwar Pandey - 26 Apr 2019

Grand Celebration of Arabic Musical Culture Day in Delhi by Arabic Music Troupe

By Onkareshwar Pandey

New Delhi, April 25, 2019: Music is the best medium for the expression of Love, Harmony, Brotherhood, and Humanity. It touches the listener’s heart and soul and creates a divine feeling of happiness, joy, and spiritualism too. Music has no boundary, no barrier, whether it’s physical, geographical, and religious or language. 

The celebration of the Arabic Musical Culture Day in Delhi last week has once again proved the strong cultural linkages between India and Egypt. The fact is, the cultural exchanges between the two great civilizations of India and Egypt have existed since the Pharaonic times. 

Let’s talk about the first celebration of the Arabic Musical Culture Day.

The Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt in New Delhi - Cultural and Educational Bureau organized the first celebration of the Arabic Musical Culture Day by Arabic Music Troupe of Cairo Opera House, in partnership with India Islamic Culture Centre that hosted the performances at its main auditorium.

The celebration of the Arabic Musical Culture Day in New Delhi last week was inaugurated by Her Excellency Dr. Heba Elmarassi, Ambassador of Egypt. In attendance were many other Ambassadors, Diplomats along with Indian nationals too, that came in large numbers.

The performances lasted for 3 consecutive days with different programmes organized for each day. The idea behind starting an Arabic music festival is to conserve and promote the Arabic musical heritage. The soulful music mostly comprised of romantic renditions along with some spiritual ones too.

People of Delhi often play audience to many cultural events and performances. However, this spring season a special concert enthralled the music lovers of Delhi.

This was a special event, one, for it was performed by a cultural troupe that flew in from another part of the world and two because no-one could understand the words or lyrics of the songs, yet, almost everyone was mesmerized by the singing and clapped throughout the show.

In its very first edition, the festival has proved beyond doubt that music has no language and Indians can appreciate music in any language or form.

In 1958, the first cultural Agreement between the two nations was signed, which envisaged establishing cultural institutes in each other’s territory.

With the setting up of the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) as a cultural wing under the Embassy of India at Cairo, the spirit of that cultural exchange has seen an institutional embodiment.
 

Two important aspects were considered for opening an Indian Cultural Centre in Egypt: 1) Cairo’s great importance as an intellectual and cultural center of the Arab World and Africa.

2) Long and rich history of cultural exchange between the two civilizations.

MACIC, one of the International Cultural Centres under ICCR, was inaugurated on 14th January 1992, by Mr. Madhav Singh Solanki, the then Foreign Minister of India, in the presence of Mr. Farouk Hosny, the Minister of Culture of Egypt, and Mr. Amr Moussa, the then Foreign Minister of Egypt. It was named after Maulana Abul Kalam Azad (1888-1958), a distinguished scholar, educationist and statesman, who was the first Education Minister of India and the founding President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. Maulana Azad fought for India’s freedom alongside Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru.

Maulana Azad, who was a symbol of the pluralistic and secular ethos of India, laid the basis for independent India’s educational and cultural policies and contributed significantly to the scientific and cultural methods of inquiry. He made significant contributions to Islamic studies and wrote a brilliant commentary of the Quran “Tarjuman Al-Quran”. Maulana Azad had a special interest in cultural exchanges with other civilisations and nations. He founded the Indian Council for Cultural Relations and encouraged cultural cooperation between Asia and Africa. He visited Egypt and had a special affinity for Egypt’s great civilization.

Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) was established as the Cultural arm of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, and formally inaugurated in April 1950 with the primary objective of establishing, reviving and strengthening cultural relations and mutual understanding between India and other countries

MACIC conducts regular academic programmes and sessions in Hindi, Urdu, and Indian dance forms, and organizes academic seminars, film shows, exhibitions, and cultural festivals from time to time.  India by the Nile 2018, the annual Indian cultural festival, was last held in March 2018 for over two weeks in three cities of Egypt. 

The festival is billed as the ‘biggest foreign cultural festival’ in Egypt. The MACIC Round-tables and seminar series involve youth, academia, culture lovers and the civil society in stimulating discussions on issues of mutual interest and sharing of experiences. In cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, MACIC screens Indian films in Hanager Theater, Cairo Opera House on a monthly basis.

‘Sawtul-Hind’, Embassy’s flagship Arabic magazine, reached a milestone in July 2017 with the publishing of its 500th edition. Sawtul-Hind, whose first edition was published in 1952, continues to be an interface between India and Egypt and the Arab world at large.

Three streets in Cairo are named after Indian leaders namely, Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. Zakir Hussein. The strong ties between India and Egypt are evident from the affection towards India amongst the Egyptian population.

There are two busts of Mahatma Gandhi – one in Cairo at the Supreme Council of Culture and the other one in Alexandria at the Bibliotheca, Alexandria. On the other hand, Gamal Abdul Nasser Marg in Delhi is named after the late President of Egypt.

The Glimpses of India painting competition is being conducted for the Egyptian children for the last 24 years.  An overwhelming response was received in its 2018 edition with the participation of 14,000 schoolchildren from 19 Governorates in Egypt. In its outreach activities, the Cultural Centre also organizes India Day(s) in Egyptian governorates and Universities.  As part of the 155th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, a week-long celebration was held in Cairo in May 2018. The Mission is commemorating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi with diverse programmes spread over two years.

Under the auspices of MACIC, cultural groups from India perform in various cities of Egypt make the presence of India felt in all the major festivals of Egypt…

As far as the academic arena is concerned, a number of Egyptian students have benefited from ICCR and other scholarship schemes to study in India. The MoU for first ICCR Chair was signed with The Ain Shams University in March 2016 and accordingly, the Indian Chair on Bioinformatics commenced in September 2016 and continued till 2018.

You will be surprised to know that Yoga has gained popularity in Egypt with more than 50 schools of Yoga in Cairo, besides centers in other cities. For the fourth consecutive year, the International Day of Yoga was celebrated in June 2018 in three cities of Egypt - Cairo, Ismailia, and Alexandria. There are seven regular Yoga batches at MACIC at present. There is also a growing interest in Indian traditional medicine. Two interactive sessions were conducted in 2018 on Ayurveda and alternative medicine in India.  

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