Furthering strong India–Saudi bonds stressed


Saudi Gazette

— Furthering the centuries-old historic relations and strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between Saudi Arabia and India was the major highlight of a colorful ceremony held to mark India’s 70th Republic Day celebrations in Jeddah on Saturday.

Ambassador Sami Bin Jameel Abdullah, director of Protocol Department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Makkah region was the chief guest at the reception hosted by Indian Consul General Mohammed Noor Rahman Sheikh at the Park Hyatt Hotel.

This year’s celebrations coincided with the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation of India.

Consuls general from a dozen countries joined Abdullah and Sheikh in cutting the cake to mark the festive occasion. They included consuls general of Egypt, the Philippines, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Singapore, Uzbekistan, Cameroon, Kuwait, Tunisia, Bahrain and Palestine.

Several distinguished dignitaries, including Foreign Ministry officials, diplomats, Indian Consulate staff and their spouses as well as community leaders, senior executives and business leaders attended the function. Deputy Consul General and Haj Consul Mohammed Shahid Alam and Indian consuls were also among the attendees.

Speaking on the occasion, Consul General Sheikh noted that the Indian nationals are celebrating the strong friendly relations with Saudi Arabia on the occasion of the Republic Day. He thanked Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman and the government of Saudi Arabia for the great support for India and its people.

Sheikh highlighted the deep-rooted relations and strong bonds between the two countries, especially in the economic, social and cultural realms. He also appreciated the Saudi authorities for the excellent and hassle-free arrangements for the Haj pilgrims.

Quoting excerpts from the Republic Day message of India’s President Ram Nath Kovind, Sheikh cited several visionary schemes, initiatives and programs launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that they are instrumental in the fast growth and development of the nation.

He congratulated the Indian community for their contributions in the development and progress of the host country. “Over three million Indians are playing an outstanding role in further bolstering the bilateral relations in diverse fields,” he said while noting that ensuring the well-being and welfare of Indians is among the highest priorities of the consulate general.

Earlier, the function started with playing of the national anthem of Saudi Arabia and India. Moin Akhtar, consul of community welfare and PIC, welcomed the gathering and anchored the event.

The spectacular performance of a 10-member cultural troupe, led by Longjam Biren Singh, was the highlight of the cultural events held on the occasion. The troupe, hailing from Manipur, the home state of Consul General Sheikh, mesmerized the attendees with their diverse traditional dance and martial art forms.

These included Thang-Chungoi Yannaba, which is an art of fighting of two warriors with sword and shield in hand; Lai Haraoba, a traditional folk group dance, that emanates grace and charm of the people and the region through intricate hand motion and varying tempo to a lilting music; Cheibi Khatpa, a traditional stick dance; and Dhol Cholom, a dance form involving lot of vigorous and intricate movements with the synchronization of drum (dhol) beats and the dance movements — a unique dance form to the villages from the plateaus and mountainous regions.

The cultural event began with a Bharatnatyam dance, choreographed by Pushpa Suresh, and performed by Kavya Suresh, Unnimaya Rajeev Nair, Devika Sajith, Rheetisha Roy and Smriti Saji.