India and Maldives cultural ties go from “strength to strength” as cultural center expands activities

The relationship between India and Maldives has been going from “strength to strength” over the past year, stated officials from the Indian Cultural Centre (ICC)

According to the ICC, the centre will increase its outreach with the new services on offer in order to reinforce the positive relationship.

Speaking at the inauguration of a new Library at the ICC yesterday (May 17), the High Commissioner of India H.E Rajeev Shahare stated that the recently completed elections would aid the good relations.

“The people of India have spoken,” remarked Shahare, “it has happened in the entire South Asian region. We’ve had elections, including in the Maldives. I think the trend, what we see is, very well entrenched in democratic practices,” reported Haveeru.

The collection at the new library will be of use to all ages, from the young to the old, an ICC spokesperson explained. The Facebook page and social media will also be used as a platform to engage the local community, they added.

As well as the library, the ICC already offers a range of classes free to the public, including tabla, Kathak dance and yoga.

The centre was inaugurated in Malé in July 2011, with the primary objective of fostering the cultural ties between India and Maldives.

In the same year, India and the Maldives have agreed to begin implementation of an agreement on co-operation in development projects signed in 2011 titled the “Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development”.

The agreement, signed during the administration of former President Mohamed Nasheed, mandates the establishment of a joint commission to oversee projects implemented under the programme, and a minimum of one annual meeting of the said commission.

In addition, President Abdulla Yameen recently stated that while the Maldives has “close ties” with China, “nothing will precede ties with India, which are far more precious”.

Yameen told Indian media during his recent official trip to the country, that he had assured its leaders that the bond between the two neighbouring countries is “heartfelt” and “based on sentiments”.

More recently, India’s Army Chief General Bikram Singh visited the Maldives – the visit was the first by a serving Indian Defense Chief since General Deepak Kapoor’s visit in February 2010.


A window to Indian culture, literature and dance

For those interested in exploring the diversity of Indian arts, culture and language, the Indian Cultural Center (ICC) is the place to be. Since its opening in July 2011, the centre has been an important platform, where Indians and Maldivians are building friendships through vibrant cultural and linguistic exchanges.

Hundreds of participants, both locals and foreigners alike are today part of the diverse programs run by the Indian Cultural Center. Many are exploring the world of Indian mother tongue and poetry while others are enjoying the experience of Indian classical dance Kathak or classical drumming, Tabla.

Similarly, to those who wants to take a break from the hustle and bustle of the busy capital Male’, the cultural center offers its best – rejuvenating and relaxing yoga classes.

And, the best part of all, every program is offered free. No charges.

“This is a cultural window to India”, ICC Director Dr.Mishra Amrendhra told Minivan News on Wednesday night, following the launch of a new Hindi learning program at the centre.

Currently over 40 centers are opened worldwide, to provide people to the opportunity to learn Indian culture and language, he observed.

Speaking at the ceremony Indian High Commissioner to the Maldives DM Muley said that “we have lost a lot in our culture and language” and today more than ever people are becoming “more segregated  in domestic and narrow corners”.

“There are invisible walls that divide us,” he pointed out. “But it is absolutely imaginary”, and “a phobia cultivated and encouraged by few with selfish interests.”

Therefore, he streesed that “language of humanity” and “attitude of helping each other” needs to be developed through promoting language and culture.

He praised ICC’s efforts, saying that the objective of opening the center seems to have been partially fulfilled. “I welcome all interested in Indian language and culture to join the centre.”

According to ICC Director Mishra, the centre is already receiving a “tremendous response” from the Maldivians, in addition to Indian expatriates and other foreign nationals working in the Maldives.

He added that several Maldivian students are going for higher studies under the center’s scholarship program and plans are underway to sign a cultural exchange agreement between the two government’s.

Currently 250 students, including several Maldivians, are part of the yoga classes running everyday in four batches.

Yoga teacher Sonika spoke to Minivan News about the keenness among the Maldivian participants in her class and how yoga are changing their lives.

“It is a great stress buster,” Sonika noted. “After regular yoga classes, some local students have found out that the cysts in their uteruses have disappeared. Many had joint and thyroid problems too. But, now they they are also feeling much healthier and energetic,” she continued.

“You should join my class. There are free slots. You will feel much light inside and it be be a journey to self evolution,” she added with a smile.

Meanwhile, Mishra pointed out that there have been some interest from local groups to explore fusions of Tabla and the Maldivian classical drumming, Bodu Beru. Although, Maldivian students participating in the Kathak dancing classes few, the center is hopeful that it will attract more students.

Among the few learning the dance is 20 year-old Naufa Nizam and her sister. At Wednesday night’s ceremony Naufa recited a poem she wrote in Hindi, so eloquently that no one would have guessed she’s a Maldivian until they heard her reciting the poem’s translation in Dhivehi.

Naufa told Minivan News: “I’ve always adored poetry since I was a kid. My mother is in the yoga class that’s how I came to know about the centre. I am participating in the Kathak dancing class too,” she added.

Meanwhile, sitting next to her was her sister, dressed in the highly ornately embroidered and decorated Kathak traditional costume consisting of a sari, with loose ankle-length skirt, and the choli, a tight fitting blouse – ready for the dance performance.

“But I don’t perform in front of a crowd,” said Naufa, who is an A-level student of Arabbiya School and student of Law foundation program at Maldives National University. “You know, it’s because of the burqa (head scarf).”

“But it doesn’t matter. I know myself that I know this dance,” she smiled. “I love this place.”

Note: Indian Cultural Center is opened at H.Vavathi, fourth floor. Those interested to join the centre programs can call 330 6612