The following article was contributed by the Embassy of India in Seoul to The Korea Post media, publisher of 3 English and 2 Korean-language news publications since 1985, for publication. –Ed.
The Embassy of India, Seoul and Swami Vivekananda Cultural Centre (SVCC) organised a Special week from January 9-15 under India@75 celebrating its historical legacy, vibrant cultural diversity and achievements of its people in India and abroad.
The first event in this Series was organised on January 9, popularly known as Pravasi Bharatiya Divas (PBD) which is observed on January 9 every year to mark the contribution of the Overseas Indian community and strengthen their engagements with the Government of India and reconnect them with their roots. On this very day in the year 1915, Mahatma Gandhi, the greatest Pravasi, returned to India from South Africa, who led India's freedom struggle and changed the lives of Indians forever. Therefore, January 9 was selected as the Pravasi Bharatya Divas day, to celebrate this occasion.
On this occasion Amb of India to Republic of Korea, H. E. Sripriya Ranganathan had an interaction with Indian Diaspora in ROK which will be followed by special remark by Mr. Anupam Tripathi, actor of Netflix series Squid Game and a conversation with Dr. Sushant Sahastrabuddhe, Associate Director General at the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), Seoul, who has also been recently awarded “Honorary Citizenship of Seoul” by the Seoul Metropolitan Government.
On January 10, World Hindi Day was organised which witnessed unveiling ceremony of the Korean translation of the great Indian Epic ‘Bhagwad Gita’ by Prof. Lim Gueun-dong, Indologist and Professor at Department of Indian Studies, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies. World Hindi Day is celebrated on January 10th every year. This day provides a popular forum at the global stage to propagate and learn not only Hindi Language but also to understand the Indian culture and traditions closely. On this occasion, Hindi scholars from India and other countries are honoured for their distinguished service in the field of Hindi.
On January 11, in continuation of the World Hindi Day celebrations and efforts to promote Hindi in Republic of Korea, a video blogging competition in Hindi was announced for the Indian cultural enthusiasts in Korea. The competition is open till February 28, 2022. Final Prize winners will be announced on March 15, 2022.
On January 12, a Special Programme was organised on the occasion of the 159th Birth Anniversary of Swami Vivekananda and National Youth Day commemorating the contributions of the leader from India who floored the World in 1893 with his address at the Parliament of World Religions at Chicago, whose spiritual message remains relevant in contemporary times not only for India but for the entire world.
Every year January 12th is also celebrated as National Youth Day marking tribute to this legendary and iconic leader whose mantra to the Youth remains evergreen. On this occasion Amb of India to Republic of Korea, H. E. Sripriya Ranganathan gave remarks on Swamiji’s thoughts and ideals which are timeless and remain relevant in today’s world. It was followed by documentary screening along with cultural performances by the children and youth from Indian Diaspora, including musical and dance recitals.
On January 13, Cleanliness Campaign (Swachhta Abhiyan) and Voluntary work (Shramdaan) was observed at the Cultural Centre to create awareness about cleanliness and workout for keeping the premises clean and weeding out unused commodities, campaign against single use plastic and e-waste was also organised among the local and India based staff at the Embassy and the Cultural Centre.
On January 14, as a part of Makar Sankaranti, which is the Harvest Festival in India known by different names such as Lohri in Punjab, Pongal in South India, Bhogali Bihu in Assam, Uttarayan in Gujarat, Poush Parva in West Bengal, etc was observed marking the harvesting season of crops as the winter season ends and ushers in the spring. On this occasion Rangoli Design (Foral motifs on floor) was drawn by local Koreans and Indian Diaspora in Republic of Korea.
Rangoli is a popular folk art that involves people making colourful designs on the floor in their house, to serve as a welcoming gesture to bring good luck in the new season. Members of the Embassy also performed Yogic Sun Salutation (Surya Namaskar) as a part of global initiative to perform 75 lakhs (7.5 million) Surya Namaskar world-wide on the occasion of Makar Sankranti and 75 years of India’s independence.
On January 15, International Quiz Competition on Buddhism was organised online in partnership with Jogye Order of Buddhism in Korea. Given the influence of Buddhism in the Korea, the Quiz on the Life of Lord Buddha and various sites associated with his life was conducted across the country among the following three categories of citizens: I. Buddhist Monks II. Civilians and III. Student. 3 final winners will be selected through a Grand Finale Quiz. A five day free of cost familiarisation tour of the Buddhist circuit in India for the 3 winners along with 1 companion each, will be organised by the Ministry of Tourism, India next year as we open up International travel for tourism and resumption of normal flights.
Most of the events were organised in hybrid format where Officials of the Embassy, featured guests and performers joined physically and the Indian communities and friends of India in Korea joined online.