Chandigarh, January 31
India showcased its soft power, particularly cultural diplomacy, to over 100 delegates that converged in this city to attend the first G20 International Financial Architecture Working Group meeting, under the G20 Indian Presidency.
At a dinner hosted by the Chandigarh administration for the delegates, comprising international organisations, on Monday, the focus was on winning hearts of the delegates by showcasing India’s deep-rooted multiculturalism through food, traditions and culture, besides branding city as a preferred tourism destination, an official, who was associated with the event, told IANS.
A special counter was set up at the entrance of the gala cultural evening organised on the banks of the rain-fed Sukhna Lake with the Kasauli hills and lower Shivalik hills in the backdrop for the delegates to don colourful turbans.
“I look elegant now,” remarked a delegate from Australia while pointing towards his turban.
Many of the foreigners, including women, were seen getting turbans of different hues tied on their heads.
At the cultural evening, inaugurated by Chandigarh Administrator and Punjab Governor Banwarilal Purohit, the delegates were dancing on the beats of ‘dhol’ or drum with a group of folk dancers from Punjab.
“Indian culture is so great that even foreigners adapt it,” remarked a foreigner, pointing towards delegates dancing their hearts out on a Bhangra song.
With India observing 2023 as the ‘Year of Millets’, the delegates were served special millet-based recipes cooked in a traditional way.
“I really enjoyed a non-vegetarian recipe from Kashmir that I am told was cooked in a traditional way by incorporating millets, a nutritious and healthy alternative,” remarked another dignitary.
The lightening by the usage of earthen lamps and strings of electric bulbs and the laser show on the banks of the Sukhna Lake embodied the spirit of “One Earth, One Family, One Future”. Also colourful flying pots illuminated the skyline.
At the summit venue, an exhibit of traditional handicrafts of the region for the G20 delegates like Phulkari, the folk embroidery of Punjab, was a major attraction. Also there is a millet hamper for the delegates.
“Of course, cultural diplomacy can also directly or indirectly pursue economic benefits in a way to boost tourism in the region,” said the official, who said the focus of the spectacular show was to brand this region as the preferred tourist destination by showcasing cuisine and culture.
“An attempt was made to fascinate the delegates to showcase the most culturally rich and vibrant performances on stage, besides promoting common culinary traditions of the region with focus mainly on Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Kashmir,” he said.
Also beautifully decorated boats with flags of each participating nation were showcased in the waters of the lake with the backdrop of glowing G20 logo. Most of the waiters were specially dressed by donning traditional Himachali ‘topis’ (caps) with a multi-colour border.
Presenting a shawl and a Himachali cap is a common practice at official and public functions in the neighbouring hill state of Himachal Pradesh. There is a tradition in Kinnaur, the tribal-dominated district in the hill state, to welcome guests with a garland of dry fruits and a round Kinnauri cap with a green flap.