Modi govt invokes Lord Rama in diplomacy ; hosts Ramayana Fest

Modi govt invokes Lord Rama in diplomacy ; hosts Ramayana Fest

Not just in domestic politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government has invoked Lord Rama in diplomacy as well.

With Modi set to host leaders of the 10 ASEAN nations next week, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has invited artistes from all the South East Asian nations to a Ramayana Festival it is holding in New Delhi, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Lucknow and, of course, Ayodhya.

The artistes from Thailand, Myanmar, Singapore, Cambodia, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam and Lao PDR are participating in the Ramayana Festival, which started at Kamani Auditorium in New Delhi on Saturday and will conclude in Ayodhya on Wednesday.

"Delighted to know that the Ramayana Festival, with participation of all ten ASEAN countries, begins in Delhi today. This celebrates India's deep civilizational and historical relations with the ASEAN region," the Prime Minister posted on Twitter.

Modi will host the leaders of the South East Asian nations for the ASEAN-India summit on January 25 to commemorate 25 years of New Delhi's partnership with the 10-nation bloc.

New Delhi is of the view that Ramayana, along with Buddhism, provides a strong cultural bond between India and all the ASEAN countries.

The ASEAN leaders will also attend the Republic Day ceremony on January 26 as chief guests. New Delhi has been inviting a foreign leader to the ceremony. But this is the first time that the Heads of State and Governments of 10 nations will join President Ram Nath Kovind in   witnessing the parade by the armed forces and the colourful tableaux on Raj Path.

"An important part of a series of events to commemorate 25 years of India-ASEAN relations, the Festival is a fitting prelude to the ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on 25th January," Modi tweeted.

The connect

The ASEAN countries regard Ramayana as a very important theme that connects all of them because the epic is something that is played and enacted today in most of the South-East Asian nations, said Preeti Saran, Secretary (East) at the Ministry of External Affairs, who inaugurated the festival in New Delhi.

The masked "Khon" artistes from Thailand performed a dance-drama based on Ramakien (or Ramayana) during the inaugural ceremony. They staged the epic battle between Phra Ram (Rama) and Thotsakan (Ravana) amid applause.

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