Miryang embraces Indian culture to promote tourism

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Miryang embraces Indian culture to promote tourism

Participants of the Holi Hai festival dance to music, covered in colored powder in Miryang, South Gyeongsang province, March 24, 2019. Courtesy of Korean Indians
Participants of the Holi Hai festival dance to music, covered in colored powder in Miryang, South Gyeongsang province, March 24, 2019. Courtesy of Korean Indians


By Lee Hae-rin

“Happy Holi Hai!”

On March 19, dozens of Indian nationals in Korea with powder of different colors on their faces and bodies and a government employee from the southeast city of Miryang greeted each other during a meeting in line to celebrate the ancient Hindu spring festival.

Seen is the poster of the 12th Holi Hai festival, jointly organized by the Indian community and the government of the city of Miryang on March 19.  The event was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  Courtesy of Korean Indians
Seen is the poster of the 12th Holi Hai festival, jointly organized by the Indian community and the government of the city of Miryang on March 19. The event was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of Korean Indians


Also known as the Festival of Love and Colors, Holi, which falls on March 18 this year, marks the start of spring and signifies the triumph of good over evil. It is a day when people cover themselves in multicolored powder and launch water balloons with lively dancing and music to put aside differences of religion, age and gender and mend broken relationships.

“We (the Korean Indian community) have been celebrating Holi in association with the city of Miryang since 2019,” said Amit Gupta, the president of the Korean Indian community, explaining the memorandum of understanding signed between the two parties in 2018. for cultural exchange.

Since 2016, Miryang city has taken an initiative to promote cultural exchanges with India, according to a Miryang city government official. Despite the city’s small Indian population, it aims to become the center of cultural exchange between the two countries.

In collaboration with the Embassy of India in Seoul and the Indian Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH), Vivekananda Yoga University was established in the city, becoming the first Asian city to have a campus of the Indian university. and held an international yoga conference.

Gupta said the festival started small in Busan among Indian friends and families here who lacked their home culture. “It was an informal gathering of about 18 people,” Gupta said ahead of this year’s celebration on Friday. “With its bright colors, inviting and festive atmosphere, the gathering captured the attention of passers-by and grew exponentially, until it reached over 3,800 registered participants from 110 countries in 2017.”

Over 3,800 people joined the Holi Hai festival at Haeundae Beach, Busan, March 2017. Courtesy of Korean Indians
Over 3,800 people joined the Holi Hai festival at Haeundae Beach, Busan, March 2017. Courtesy of Korean Indians


But the festival ran into administrative problems with local authorities and displeased residents of Haeundae Beach as the festival exceeded anyone’s expectations.

But the Miryang city government saw an opportunity amid the unrest. “When we heard about the wonderful Holi festival in Busan, we thought we should offer them a venue and also administrative and financial support here,” the official said.

With the city’s geographical accessibility, beautiful landscapes and hospitality, the offer was well received by the Indian community, Gupta said.

In 2019, the partnership between the city and the community achieved great success when the festival was held in a park by the Miryang River. The event invited more than 4,000 revelers of 80 nationalities from across the country and 500 photographers, while residents and local authorities also hailed the influx of visitors and its consequent economic boost and pledged to continue supporting their project.

“Unfortunately, this was the first and last time we celebrated Holi together, offline, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” the official said. For the 2021 and 2022 festivals, the city provided the community with 150 celebration kits with colored powder kits for four people, encouraging the celebration to live on and remain a tourist attraction for the city.

Participants of different nationalities covered in colored powder pose during the festival held in Miryang in March 2019. Courtesy of Korean Indians
Participants of different nationalities covered in colored powder pose during the festival held in Miryang in March 2019. Courtesy of Korean Indians


“What’s really special about Holi Hai here is that it brings everyone together, people from so many different cultures and backgrounds,” Gupta explained on the difference between the celebration here and India. .

“It’s a unique experience that is best welcomed by Korean and international attendees. Even in India, it’s not easy to bring so many different people together for Holi Hai,” Gupta said. Only 16% of the more than 2,800 participants in 2016 were Indian nationals, while others came from 90 countries, including Korea, the United States, Canada and Europe.

“The festival is all about happiness. No one gets annoyed by spraying colors on each other’s face,” Gupta said. “Also, here we play K-pop and international music with Indian songs too.”

Miryang now plans to open an Indian cultural center in 2023 to strengthen cultural exchanges with the partner country.

“We have proved that mutual friendship and collaboration of different cultures can achieve synergy. We have started the partnership with Holi Hai, and we welcome Indian nationals to come and visit the center anytime to showcase their culture,” said the official on the prospect of the partnership.

“I am very optimistic about the future of this event. It will also strengthen the friendship between the two countries,” Gupta said.


























































































































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