The Indian cultural centre here in Egypt, serving as a window for India for the past 25 years to reach out to Egyptians, plans to add new activities like yoga to woo more people.
Established in 1992 as part of the Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP), the Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) has been spreading different aspects of the Indian culture.
“The Centre is here primarily to educate and make people aware of the Indian culture,” Ann Haokip, the director of MACIC said.
“There is a mainstream idea of what Indian culture is, but we want to let people know that there is not just one idea. There are many aspects of what Indian culture is. So, for example, I would say that Indian music or dance is not just Bollywood there is much more beyond that. So, in that sense we want to promote different arts from India. India is very rich in arts,” said Haokip, who took over as the director of the Centre in mid-December 2016, after Rakesh Kawra.
Not only presenting yoga, dance, Hindi and Urdu language classes, the Centre also present seminars, exhibitions and movie screenings and discussions during the month.
“We try to have our events really accessible to public. So we go to venues and places that people can come to usually for free,” Haokip said.
The Centre has recently included new activities like the seminars in the MACIC roundtable in which experts and professionals are invited to discuss various topics.
A cinema club was also opened in the Center last year, where Indian movies are screened and discussions follow.
“We are also going to have new events like the Yoga Championship and photo competition related to yoga because the International Day of Yoga is coming up on June 21. This will be the third year that we are celebrating this special day,” she added.
Currently, the Centre is hosting some of the activities of the India by the Nile, the largest cultural festival in Egypt which runs until April 27.
“During the festival we host seminars and exhibitions. We will also hold the Taghor festival from May 8-12. The events, organised by the Maulana Azad Centre, will be held in Cairo and Alexandria,” she said.
“We have got many invitations from different schools and universities to take part in an Indian Day or international festivals where we go there and participate by offering them an India booth and some dance and music,” the director said.
MACIC, located in Cairo, is the only Indian cultural Center in the region. It was named after Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, the founder of Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the scholar-statesman who had close links with the Arab world.