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Cultural Cooperation between India and Brazil

India and Brazil have been building their bilateral relationship as two independent countries and major participants in their respective regional settings since 1948, following India’s independence. This became clear after the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, invited Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro to participate in India’s Independence Day celebrations in January 2020. The Brazilian Federal Government’s visit to India resulted in the signing of 15 agreements across a variety of areas to enhance corporate engagement and collaboration between the two nations. The agreements include everything from technical and scientific collaboration to childcare and cultural interaction. 

Cultural Influence 

India has a strong and good reputation among Latin American countries in general, and particularly in Brazil.The well-known Filhos de Gandhy, or Sons of Gandhi, was created in 1948, inspired by Gandhi’s beliefs. Various activities were organised in 2019 to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary (Bapu@150) in the cities of Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Belo Horizonte. To round off the Bapu@150 festivities, the Embassy, in collaboration with the Government of the Federal District, placed a bust of Mahatma Gandhi in Brasilia’s famed City Park on January 9, 2020.

The ‘Bloco Bollywood’ street festival provides the Brazilian community a glimpse into Brazil’s diverse culture. It began in 2016 with a 700-person audience and has since grown to thousands. 

The India Foundation’s Center for Soft Power described the organic rise of Bloco Bollywood, “Today, in just four years, it has become the biggest Indian event in entire South America. In 2019, we had more than 8,000 people at two Blocos in different locations. It just shows the power of Indian music, dances, and costumes to attract people. The Bloco has also given a big boost to all Indian restaurants in Sao Paulo and all Indian textile traders have benefitted from it, with a hike in sales of Indian dresses close to the carnival.” They have now begun to showcase the annual carnival with the tagline, “Happiness and Peace”, and the carnival is now one of the vital vehicles of Indian culture in Brazil.

Ayurveda is another key feature of India’s health, science and knowledge system that is spreading in various parts of Brazil fairly organically. There are so many practitioners and schools in the country that want to study it from India and practise and disseminate it in Brazil. The India Foundation’s Center for Soft Power and worldwide partner groups organised a global celebration of Ayurveda Day on October 25 in 2019.

The third BRICS Film Festival received a large number of submissions in a variety of genres. In the middle of all of this, the best picture prize went to a film about a polling booth in India. Newton, the film in question, symbolises the greatest of Indian cinema in 2017, and its victory at the festival demonstrates the enormous potential of Indian films in Brazil. In May 2014, Brazil released two postage stamps made by Indian graphic artists to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Indian cinema. The stamps were issued to commemorate a national film festival devoted to modern Indian cinema. Several Brazilian performers who came to India to perform have gone on to become stars in their home country. Intriguingly, media sources claim that the Brazilian film Uma: Luz Das Himalaias (Uma: Light of the Himalayas), cooperation between Perumeen Cinema and Vedanta Life Institute, was the first Indian production to be commercially exhibited in Brazil.

Globo Television, Brazil’s largest media company, created and aired a news show named “The Journey of Life: Ganges River” in 2019. The documentary focuses on locations that have had a significant impact on the evolution of human civilisation.

Cultural Collaborations 

During President Bolsonaro’s State Visit to India in January 2020, a Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) for the years, 2020-2024 was signed. There is a lot of interest in India’s culture, religious diversity, performing arts, and philosophy in Brazil.

Folkloric identities and celebrations from India might be quite similar to the joyous and colourful nature of festivals such as the customary dances and parades of Brazil’s north and northeast. Bharatanatyam was the first classical Indian art form to arrive in Brazil, followed by Odissi, Kathak, and Kuchipudi. Yoga is taught by a variety of groups in Brazil. There are also chapters on Ramakrishna Mission, ISKCON, Satya Sai Baba, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Bhakti Vedanta Foundation, and other spiritual gurus and organisations.

The first International Day of Yoga was observed in 12 major Brazilian cities in 2015, and Correois, Brazil (Brazilian Postal Department) released a stamp commemorating the occasion.

Since September 2017, the Embassy has held regular yoga lessons. The third International Ayurvedic Congress was held in Rio de Janeiro beginning in March 2018 and drew over 4000 participants and delegates, many of whom were from India. On June 21, 2019, a mass yoga session was held in front of the famous National Museum in Brasilia, with the iconic Cathedral as a backdrop. A Special Solemn Session was held in the Plenary Hall of the Chambers of Deputies (Lower House of Parliament) with guest speakers discussing the value of Yoga in everyday life. Yoga and Ayurveda practitioners are well-represented in Brazil. The Brazilian Association of Ayurveda (ABRA) is a non-profit organisation having offices in nine Brazilian states. 

Yoga is a holy part of Indian culture; it is the essence of well-being and a comprehensive way of life, balancing the mind, body, and spirit. In 2018, to commemorate yoga day, people performed yoga in front of the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro.  To promote this year’s theme of ‘Yoga for Humanity,’ the Embassy of India in Brazil organised and commemorated International Yoga Day at the Embassy grounds. The Embassy has been celebrating International Yoga Day each year by conducting yoga sessions. On June 30, 2022, the Embassy hosted a special yoga session for young Brazilian diplomats from the Ministry of Foreign Relations’ Rio Branco Institute.

The Government of India bestowed the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour, on Prof Lia Diskin and Ms. Gloria Arieira on January 25, 2020, for their contributions to social service and literature and education, respectively.

The Indian community is mostly made up of professionals and company owners, with some students, scientists/researchers working in space, agriculture, physics, and other domains of biotechnology. In Sao Paulo, there is an Indian Association that organises activities and commemorates national holidays and local festivities.