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Indian culture enjoys considerable popularity in Bulgaria right from the days of Rabindranath Tagore’s visit to Bulgaria in 1926. Indian culture has been well received which is evident by the popularity of not only the Indian classics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas, Upanishadas, Bhagvat Gita and Panchatantra but also such well-known modern Indian authors like Prem Chand, Mulk Raj Anand and Amrita Pritam. Some of the eminent Bulgarian poets like Hristo Botev, Hristo Smyrensky and Nikola Vaptsarov have also been widely translated to Indian languages. All these have contributed to a better understanding of each other’s culture and philosophy.
Bulgarians evince keen interest in Yoga, Ayurveda, Bollywood films and the spiritual heritage of India. This is evidenced by the existence of many Yoga centres, daily telecast of Hindi serials dubbed in Bulgarian, popularity of Indian cuisine, music and dance and increasing tourist traffic
Indo-Bulgarian cultural relations have been given an institutional framework by a Cultural Exchange Programme [CEP], which was signed in 1963. Since then our cultural interactions have continued under the framework of biennial or triennial Cultural Exchange Programmes. The CEP for 2015-2017 was signed in New Delhi on 5th September 2015, which is currently under implementation.
The Centre for Eastern Languages and Cultures, Sofia University has an Indology Department, which, since 1983, has been conducting courses at graduation and post-graduation levels. There is a visiting chair for a Professor of Hindi from India in the Indology Department of Sofia University and similarly in the Delhi University for a Professor of Bulgarian language.
Visiting chairs of Hindi at Indology Department of Sofia University and of Bulgarian at Delhi University have over the years also contributed to the goodwill and friendship that exist between the two countries.
Under the Fellowship Programme for Foreign Scholars instituted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Mrs. Galina Rousseva-Sokolova, Associate Professor & Vice-Dean, Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology, Sofia University, received scholarship in 2010 and completed her research work at the prestigious Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.
The two schools named after former Prime Minister of India, Late Smt. Indira Gandhi – Indira Gandhi High School in Sofia and Indira Gandhi Kindergarten in Pravetz. There are about 1200 students in Indira Gandhi High School where Hindi is being taught. The Mission maintains close contacts with these institutions / organizations and organizes various activities with their support like the World Hindi Day which is being celebrated every year since 2006. There is a Georgi Stoikov Rakovsky Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Delhi named after the famous Bulgarian patriot.
Bulgarian students from the Indology Department of Sofia University have been going to Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra in India for pursuing a one-year course in Hindi under scholarships provided by the Government of India under the scheme “Propagation of Hindi Abroad.”

Organizations involved in spread of Indian Culture

In Bulgaria, there are sizeable numbers of Bulgarians who are extremely close and friendly towards India. There are several institutions / organizations connected with India who are involved in promoting Indian culture, Indian music and dance, Ayurveda, Yoga etc.
Some India-related friendship / cultural societies which are involved in spread and propagation of Indian culture through organization of cultural activities with support from the Indian Embassy are – the Friends of India Club, East-West Indological Foundation, and Association of Indians in Bulgaria, Namaste Bulgaria.

Friends of India Club

Friends of India Club was founded in 1993. There are at present 560 Bulgarian members who are from all fields of life: writers, scholars, diplomats, artists, journalists, and musicians. The main purpose of the Club is to acquaint the Bulgarian public with the cultural and human values from India. The Club with the help of Indian Embassy brings out “Svetilnik” magazine annually which covers different aspects of Indian culture and society. The Club organizes numerous cultural activities related to India throughout the year. The Club has a website at http://www.friendsofindiaclub.com and one can become its member by emailing at– fic1991@abv.bg

East-West Indological Foundation

East-West Indological Foundation was established in 1997. The main objective of the Foundation is to promote the implementation of Indology in diverse ways and at different levels. The Foundation supports and stimulates the development of Indology at Sofia University. Up to now, several projects, such as creation of Hindi-Bulgarian Electronic Dictionary, translation of short stories of several Hindi writers from Hindi to Bulgarian, publication of these translations, etc., have been conducted and funded by the Foundation. The Foundation also is active in supporting and hosting cultural troupes from India and has been instrumental in organizing cultural shows in Bulgaria. In addition, the Foundation organizes Hindi and Sanskrit classes at its premises. The East-West Indological Foundation played a pivotal role in organizing both editions of International Day of Yoga in 2015 and 2016. The Foundation can be contacted at mail@indfound.org and Boyanova@indfound.org

Association “INDIA”

The Association INDIA was formed in 20 October 2016 and aims to provide a platform for the India community in Bulgaria as well as the large number of Indophiles to come together and discuss topics of mutual interest. Association INDIA has its own fledgling website – www.associationindia.org, Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Association.India/ and its email ID is chairman@associationindia.org.

Namaste Bulgaria Foundation

Namaste Bulgaria Foundation is engaged in promotion of Indian culture through celebration of National Days of India, organizing exhibitions relating to India, celebration of Hindi Day, organization of Indian film festivals, etc. The Foundation’s recently organized an event highlighting the works of Designer Rohit Bal at the NDK Bridge from 15 to 19 July 2016 in association with Embassy of India and Sofia Municipality. The Foundation’s website [http://bulgarianamaste.com/] and its Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Namaste-Bulgaria-Foundation/143940925671174?sk=info&tab=page_info] provide information pertaining to Indian culture including cuisine, fashion, cinema, tourism, music, and dance etc.

Cultural Outreach activities of the Embassy of India

The Embassy organizes the World Hindi Day as an annual event. This year, the World Hindi Day was celebrated on 19.01.2016 by the Embassy in cooperation with the Indology Department of Sofia University, Friends of India Club and the East-West Indological Foundation.

Another annual event which is organized by the Embassy is (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation) ITEC Day. This yeas ITEC Day was celebrated on 29th September 2016 which was attended by about 60 people which included ITEC alumni over the last several years, alumni of Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra, FSI course participants, academics from Indology Department of Sofia University, members of Indo-Bulgarian friendship organizations and senior officials from Bulgarian Government. Annual celebration of this event underlines the importance the Government of India attaches to ITEC programme in strengthening the relations between India and Bulgaria.

Some other events organized in last two years in connection with promotion of Indian culture organized in Bulgaria are as under:

  1. Embassy of India participated in the International Women Club Charity Bazaar on 9.12.2016 held in Sofia.
  2. A two day, 17-18 October 2016, event titled “Indian Festival Varna” was organized by NGO Meditation and Yoga Varghese in association with Indian Diaspora in Varna.
  3. An event was organized to screen the inauguration of Pravasi Bhartiya Kendra at Embassy on 02 October 2016. The recorded coverage of the inauguration was shown to Indian Diaspora in Bulgaria.
  4. An overseas centre of Indian Institute of Hardware Technology (IIHT) was inaugurated by Ambassador on 26 September 2016 in Plovdiv.
  5. A photo exhibition entitled ‘Stage of Eternal Beauty’ was organized by ‘Namaste Bulgaria’ at the National Palace of Culture (NDK) Bridge from 15th July to 29th July 2016 highlighting the works of designer Rohit Bal and high-resolution India tourism posters.
  6. A Bharat Natyam dance recital by ICCR-sponsored troupe led by Ms. Anjana Rajan was organized as curtain raiser to the International Day of Yoga (IDY) programme on 20th June 2016 at Lumiere Theatre in Sofia and conclusion of IDY programme in Plovdiv on 21st June, 2016.
  7. IDY 2016 was celebrated on a larger scale than IDY 2015 with celebrations held simultaneously in 23 cities including capital Sofia. IDY 2016 events were organized by the Embassy in collaboration with East West Indological Foundation, Bulgarian Yoga Federation, Bulgarian Yoga Associations, Bulgarian Ayurveda Association and important yoga centres.
  8. 125th Birth Anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar was celebrated on 22nd April 2016 at the Centre for Eastern Languages and Cultures, Sofia University, in collaboration with Friends of India Club.
  9. A Regional Conference titled “In the Mirror of Dharma: Indian Culture (Bharatiya) through the Ages” was organized from February 29-March 01, 2016 in collaboration with ICCR, Sofia University and East west Indological Foundation.
  10. A Photo Exhibition from ICCR titled “Religions of India” by Shri Amit Mehra was launched on the occasion of 67th Republic Day of India at the central lobby of national library St. St. Cyril and Methodius in Sofia. The Photo Exhibition was exhibited in all the major cities of Bulgaria by the East West Indological Foundation.
  11. Pravasi Bhartiya Divas was celebrated in Sofia on 09.01.2016 in cooperation with the Association of Indians in Bulgaria and Forum for Development of Culture and Business between India and Bulgaria.
  12. Embassy of India in association with the Indian diaspora in Bulgaria participated in the International Women Club Charity Bazaar on 6.12.2015.
  13. A day-long event titled ‘Day of India’ was held on 27.09.2015 in Varna in association with NGO Meditation and Yoga, Bulgaria.
  14. First International Day of Yoga was celebrated on 21.06.2015 at the National Palace of Culture, sofia and 9 other cities. IDY 2015 concluded with a Kathak dance performance by ICCR-sponsored troupe of Ms. Swati Wangnoo Tiwari at the same venue.
  15. The Embassy and the East-West Indological Foundation organised a classical Indian Bharatnatyam dance performance “Anubhuti” by renowned Indian Danseuse Nivedita Badve and her disciples on 18 May 2015 at Small City Theatre, Sofia.
  16. Two exhibitions of prominent contemporary Bulgarian artists “India as an Inspiration” and “Mirror of the Heart” were opened at Sofia University on 10 March 2015.
  17. The Embassy and the East-West Indological Foundation organized a classical Indian Dance Bharatnatyam performance on the theme “Shakti & Shiva” by Bulgarian Dancer Meena Patalenska and her troupe Nataraja on 16 February 2015, at Natfiz theatre, Sofia.
  18. ICCR sponsored painting exhibition “Kalpana” was inaugurated on 26 January 2015 in Sofia as part of the 60th anniversary celebrations of the establishment of bilateral Diplomatic relations after which the Ambassador hosted a Reception. The event was well attended by Ministers, Ambassadors, Diplomats, other dignitaries and Indophiles and was covered extensively in local media. The exhibition also travelled to cities of Plovdiv, Rousse, Varna and Bourgas.
  19. A special issue of the Friends of India Club “Svetilnik” magazine, dedicated to the 60th anniversary of establishment of Diplomatic relations between India and Bulgaria, was launched on 17.12.2014. An exhibition of photographs by Bulgarian artist Boris Georgiev and by Plamena Dimitrova – Racheva was also inaugurated on the occasion at the National Library “St. St. Cyril and Methodius”.
  20. The Embassy, along with the Friends of India Club and Indology Department of Sofia University, jointly organized a festive public meeting on completion of 60 years of diplomatic relations with Bulgaria on 18 November 2014.
  21. Ambassador gave a talk on Contemporary Indian Society in October 2014.
  22. Performances by 10-member Manipuri folk dance and music troupe in various cities in July 2014.
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