The vibrant colours, flavours, and traditions of India were brought alive as thousands thronged Kaisaniemi Park to celebrate the 7th edition of India Day on Sunday, August 20th, 2023. This annual event, which aims to showcase the rich cultural tapestry of India and promote cross-cultural understanding; drew locals and visitors alike to partake in a day of festivities, performances, and culinary delights.
The day began early and a lively cultural extravaganza followed such. Traditional music and dance performances from various regions of India captivated the audience. From the rhythmic beats of Bhangra to the energetic Lavani, from the fusion of Bhangratyam, the performances reflected the diverse cultural heritage of India. Spectators were enthralled as they witnessed the seamless fusion of ancient traditions with modern influences. The highlight was a perfectly choreographed dance number by a Tanushree Shankar Dance Company sponsored by Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and especially flown in to Helsinki. The event provided a platform for artists, both Indian and Finnish, to share their talents and stories. The vibrant costumes, intricate choreography, and soul-stirring melodies transported attendees to the vibrant streets of India, even as they stood in the heart of Helsinki.
Speaking on the occasion, Ambassador of India in Finland Raveesh Kumar, lauded the role played by the Indian community in Finland for their role in cementing the ties between India and Finland. He said, “We celebrate India’s story with the event, we celebrate plurality, we celebrate diversity and we celebrate our glorious history and culture. An event like India Day fosters understanding between our two friendly countries, showcasing Indian culture in Finland with the objective of strengthening the people-to-people connect between both countries.” He also thanked the organising Committee, the Indian community associations, volunteers and the sponsors for their support in organising the event.
No celebration of India is complete without its delectable cuisine, known for its aromatic spices and bold flavours. The food stalls at the India Day event offered a tantalizing array of dishes that catered to both the curious palate and the connoisseur. From the ever-popular street food like samosas and chaats to the rich curries and biryanis, attendees had the opportunity to embark on a gastronomic journey through the diverse regions of India.
Local Indian restaurants participated in the event, serving authentic dishes that showcased their culinary expertise.
India Day in Helsinki isn't just about showcasing Indian culture; it's about celebrating the multiculturalism and diversity that enrich the fabric of Finnish society. The event serves as a reminder of the strong ties between the two nations and the shared values of inclusivity and respect for different cultures. In recent years, India-Finland relations have grown significantly, with collaborations spanning various sectors, including technology, education, and trade. India Day provides an opportunity to strengthen these bonds further by fostering cultural exchange and encouraging people-to-people connections.
By afternoon, the park was a sea of people, with estimates ranging around 30,000 by the end of the day. There were many firsts at this India Day, organised by the Embassy of India together with the ‘Friends of India and Finland’, a platform bringing together 16 Indian associations together. It had the largest-ever attendance, highest number of food stalls, an online food ordering system, water points for free drinking water and most performances to date. As the sun set on this year's India Day celebrations in Helsinki, the colourful memories and newfound cultural insights lingered in the minds of attendees. The event's success promised a bright future ahead for continued cross-cultural interactions and collaborations between India and Finland.
Year after year, India Day in Helsinki serves as a testament to the power of cultural exchange in fostering understanding, appreciation, and unity among diverse communities. With each dance step, every bite of flavourful food, and every shared smile, the event reiterates the importance of celebrating differences and finding common ground in an increasingly interconnected world.
By Satvik Shubham