The Namaste India Festival will be held for its 22nd time this year. We have received encouraging words by the Embassy of India in Japan who have described it as the world’s largest Indian festival of its kind, even surpassing those of New York and London in scale. With this in mind, we will continue to do our best in creating an enjoyable event for the whole family that contributes to Japan-India relations on all levels.
We have always considered Namaste India to be a cultural event in which substance and content should take precedence over scale. Therefore, we have understated it as the “largest Indian festival in Japan”.
A new prime minister has been elected, and it is appearing likely that Mr Modi will be visiting Japan this year. India is the only country with which Japan holds an annual mutual exchange program between the heads of state, while for India, Japan is only one of two― the other being Russia. This mutual exchange has a great significance in bringing the two nations together, and it also underscores the importance of furthering cultural ties. In introducing the culture of Japan to such a diverse nation as India, we feel that the culture of the Ainu people is indispensable. This year, we will bring over 10 members of the BACSPG (Biratori Ainu Culture Succession and Practice Group) from Biratori, Hokkaido. After performing at the Namaste India festival for 5 consecutive years, a special cultural delegation comprising 21 members conducted 3 performances in India last year: an event that was the first of its kind in the history of the Ainu people. Members of this very delegation will appear at the Namaste India festival and photos of their tour of India will be shown at the Ainu House.
On the 18th of May this year, we conducted the third Bodhisena Succession Event. It is said that during the Nara period, close to half the entire population of Japan was involved in the building of the Great Buddha statue and religious buildings. According to historical records, Bodhisena, the first Indian to arrive in Japan, drew the eyes on the statue of the Great Buddha with the ink brush still preserved at Shosoin. We chose the 18th of May, the day that Bodhisena arrived in Dazaifu after being shipwrecked, for the third Bodhisena Succession Event which was held in his honour and to carry on his work.
The members of the Kathakali dance troupe that performed for the event formed the cultural delegation chosen by the government of India. At the ambassador’s request, the same members also went on to give performances in Rikuzentakata in Iwate, Shichigahama in Miyagi and Sendai as a gesture of support for areas affected by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Many Indian residents of Japan provided kind support for this endeavour and chai and curry were served to the attendees. The performances in the north-east of Japan were a great success. Photos of these performances can be seen at the Bodhisena House which will be erected inside the Namaste India festival grounds.
Nearly 300 dancers are expected to perform on stage at this year’s festival. The Indian government is also planning to send a delegation of Manipuri dancers from Manipur. There will also be countless stalls and booths for Indian food, handicrafts, Ayurveda, Mhendi, NPOs and organic vegetables. In addition, many items of interest such as our famed life-sized elephant sculpture and terracotta horses will be exhibited. At the Seminar House hosted every year by the Nakamura Hajime Eastern Institute, there will be a fascinating variety of programs on Indian academia such as philosophy, history and literature as well as fun activities including a classical Indian vocal training workshop and karaoke with Indian songs.
Tokio Hasegawa, Chairman, Namaste India Executive Committee