Hungary celebrates Ganges-Danube fest, Yoga Day

Budapest:  People in nine different cities of Hungary, including Budapest, had a tryst with things Indian as part of the Ganges-Danube Festival and International Day of Yoga. The Yoga display, with many historic sites forming the backdrop, was observed four days ahead of International Yoga Day that would be observed globally on June 21.  The emphasis this year was on lifestyle, health, restraint, fulfilment -- not so much on exercise -- in the eight other cities of Balatonfured, Debrecen, Eger, Esztergom, Nagykanizsa, Sopron, Szeged and Szentendre.  Hungary can boast of 60 centres with varying membership that train and practise in Yoga on a regular basis. The Danube bank near seven of its famed bridges formed the venue of the Yoga display here. Begun on June 17, the three-day festival was organised by the Indian Embassy, the Amrita Sher-Gill Cultural Centre (named after the celebrated Indo-Hungarian painter of the last century) of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and the local branches of Art of Living and other cultural bodies that have a strong India connect. Over the weekend (June 18-19), several cultural performances, yoga practices, and workshops on traditional Indian crafts like mehndi (applying of henna designs on hands and feet), lac bangle exhibition, puppeteering and food festival were held. Screening of Bollywood movies invariably drawn crowds of admirers throughout Hungary and all events over the weekend were open to the public, free of cost, to ensure maximum participation. Depicting the Benaras temples on the Ganga and various illuminated bridges on the Danube as the two banks of a single river, the Ganges-Danube Indian Cultural Festival this year introduced many firsts, Indian envoy Rahul Chhabra told IANS. They included a Yoga session at the Budapest Central Jail. A Quiz Contest posed many interesting questions. One was which Bollywood film had its climax scene shot at the Szechenyi Chain Bridge on the Danube, but was passed off as an Italian venue. Facebook entries had many posts that answered "Hum Dil De Chuke Hain Sanam". The Quiz contest was conducted online first and subsequently live in three cities by a professional quiz master flown in from India. Also flown in from Hyderabad was noted fashion designer Asmita, who staged a fashion show while exhibiting products in Khadi and had as its theme environment and sustainability. Puppeteers from India staged performances in different cities where the audience was told of the origin of the art and its enmeshing with the Indian folk traditions. A team from Kerala introduced to the Hungarians the martial art of Kalaripayattu. Hungarians are no strangers to various forms of Indian dances with many trained at the Amrita Sher-Gill Centre. Famed Kathak danseuse Shovana Narayan conducted lectures and tutored the Hungarian students.