Croatia loves Indian culture despite minimal Indian presence

There is a vibrant essence of India in Croatia
Croatia loves Indian culture despite minimal Indian presence
FILE PHOTO: Indian President Ram Nath Kovind addressing the Croatia-India Economic Forum at Croatia’s capital Zagreb, March 27, 2019.PIB Photo

There are just over 2,400 Indians living in Croatia, but they are doing a creditable job of propagating Indian culture in the Balkan state, building on the ties between the two countries that stretch back to the 16th century.

In this endeavor they are being aided by the initiatives of both governments with frequent and increasing high-level visits of ministers and government functionaries between India and Croatia, focusing not only on bilateral trade but also on cultural aspects of cooperation.

The Republic of Croatia was formed after the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia split in 1991. For Indians, Croatia as a destination to settle down has picked up only over the last decade with the increasing spread of outsourcing centers of Indian software companies in the region.

Majority of the nonresident Indians in Croatia are on contractual work in the information technology and education sectors while the rest are students, Persons of Indian Origin and some Indian women married to Croatian men.

Indians are also successfully running Indian restaurants such as Namaste, Royal India Restaurant, and Bombay Grill.

INDIAN CULTURE IN CROATIA
There is considerable interest in Indian culture among Croatians, especially in learning Indian dances, languages such as Hindi and Sanskrit and the practice of yoga and ayurveda.

There are several Croat-Indian societies that organize Indian dances and other social and cultural events and documentary films on India and screening Indian movies. In fact, troupes from Croatia participate in cultural festivals in India from time to time.

There is a Department of Indology at the University of Zagreb. This has been involved in teaching the ancient religious texts of India and promoting Sanskrit and Hindi.

The cultural mingling of India and Croatia has a history behind it. There is a Church of Sao Braz in Goa, supposed to have been built in 1563 by the Croatians, while the credit for publishing the first printed Sanskrit grammar in 1790 goes to a Croat, Ivan Filip Vezdin.

Nobel Laureate and Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore visited Zagreb in 1926 soon after receiving the Nobel Prize for Literature. His well-known work “Gitanjali” was translated into the Croatian language by the philosopher Pavao Vuk-Pavlović. Some of Tagore’s other works have also been translated and even performed on stage.

In 2019, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind addressed the Indian community while visiting Croatia and observed that despite their diverse backgrounds, they were contributing in their own ways to the development of the east European country.