Don Quixote, the iconic character in Spanish writer Cervantes’s eponymous 17th century classic, may not have heard of Kathakali, but in a unique cross-cultural fusion, the Mexican heritage city of Guanajuato is set for a rare experience of India’s cultural connect with Latin America at Cervantino International Festival.
Underlining India’s pervasive cultural connections and its expanding soft power footprints in the region, India will for the first time participate as a Guest of Honour at the Cervantino fest, a marquee cultural show in the region.
The three-week long cultural festival, named after legendary Spanish novelist Miguel de Cervantes, will begin on October 10 in Guanajuato and will have its grand finale on October 28.
The spotlight at the fest will be on India’s multi-faceted cultural, literary and spiritual heritage, which has a strong resonance among people in the Latin American countries. Mahatma Gandhi, yoga, Bollywood and classical Indian dance forms will amalgamate to create a singular cultural experience for thousands of spectators at this must-see cultural show. “A Passage to Bollywood,” by celebrity choreographer Ashley Lobo will also be presented to promote Bollywood in Latam region.
“The festival, started in 1953 with a focus on theatre, had India participating regularly since 1979. However, it will be India’s first time as a guest of honour country,” said Riva Ganguly Das, Director General, Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR).
India’s ambassador to Mexico Muktesh Pardeshi has termed India’s participation at Cervantino Festival “as biggest show of India in the Latin American region,” and highlighted that it will bolster People-to-People contact between the two emerging regions.
“We intend to take this partnership forward by deepening people-to-people links. The participation of India as the Guest of Honour Country at Cervantino Festival is aimed at bringing two cultures together. Our programmes have been carefully curated to showcase India which is on rise and which would appeal to Mexican youth,” the Indian envoy told India Writes Network from his office in Mexico City.
“This is the biggest show of India in the Latin American region. Our cultural outreach to Mexico will continue next year with India’s participation at International Book Fair in Mexico which is the biggest book fair in the Hispanic world,” he said.
Placing India’s participation at the Cervantino fest in the larger context of India’s burgeoning relations with Mexico and Latin American region, the Indian envoy said: “There has been a new dynamism in our relations with Mexico following the successful visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in June 2016. Bilateral trade is likely to touch USD 10 bn this year, thus making Mexico the second biggest trade partner in the Americas, after the US. Mexico is home to more than 180 Indian companies.”
The economic resurgence of India and Latin America are increasingly intersecting, opening new vistas for business and collaboration cutting across the spectrum. Indian investments in the LAC region have been widely welcomed not only because they bring in capital and enterprise, but also create jobs and spur the region’s integration into local supply chains. Indian IT companies, according to an estimate, currently employ around 25,000 locals in Latin America.
Intertwining India and the LAC region, the hardware of economic engagement is complemented by the software of cultural affinities and connections. Soccer, samba and story-telling for which Latin America is famous for blends beautifully with Indian cultural forms, Bollywood, music and spiritual practices like yoga.
- Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network (www.indiawrites.org) and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.
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