Ma Zhanwu (C), China's Consul General in Kolkata, and his wife Yang Li (L) attend another Durga Puja inauguration in Kolkata, Oct. 11, 2018. (Photo: Chinese Consulate General in Kolkata)
A Chinese envoy performed Tai Chi at the inauguration of a Durga Puja celebration in Kolkata, the capital of India's West Bengal state, on Saturday night, in a visible gesture of cultural bonhomie between China and India.
The India Today Group released a video of Ma Zhanwu, China's Consul General in Kolkata, performing intricate Tai Chi martial arts moves to the tune of 'Pipa' – a Chinese stringed musical instrument – played by his wife Yang Li at the inauguration of a Chinese-themed Durga Puja marquee in Kolkata's Salt Lake neighborhood.
The video has been viewed by thousands of social media users on Twitter and YouTube so far.
Around 40 Chinese artists also performed a traditional peacock dance, music and martial arts as the marquee was unveiled in the presence of Ma and senior Indian government officials including West Bengal Governor Keshari Nath Tripathi, the Indo-Asian News Service (IANS) reported.
"Such an event as tonight's will be remembered and will contribute to the friendship, the economic and cultural exchanges and cooperation between two great nations," Ma said in his address to the gathering on the occasion.
"Together, China and India, will make a difference for Asia and whole of the world," he added, emphasizing that leaders of the two nations favor meaningful cultural and educational exchanges to enhance bilateral cooperation.
Durga Puja is among the biggest annual festivals in India celebrated with much fanfare, particularly in the eastern states of West Bengal, Assam, Orissa, Tripura, Bihar and Jharkhand. According to Indian tradition, the festival represents the victory of good over evil. Over the decades, Durga Puja has transformed from being a religious occasion to a huge social and cultural event.
Communities pray to Goddess Durga in lavish marquees (also known as pandals in India), which metamorphoses into a nucleus of socio-cultural extravaganza with community feasting and a fascinating array of artistic, musical and theatrical shows over the four to five days of festivities. This year, Durga Puja is being celebrated from Oct. 15 to 19.
The organizers of this particular Durga Puja were supported by the Chinese Consulate General in Kolkata. "Around five Bengali artists went to China's Yunnan Province. They took pictures, videos and they did it all by themselves. Then they showed me the structures and I think they have done a wonderful job," the Chinese diplomat said, appreciating the crafts.
The marquee that was unveiled in the presence of Ma has reportedly attempted to recreate a slice of authentic China. "The pandal has the theme of Chinese village," India Today reporter Indrajit Kundu told CGTN.
Based on Chinese architecture, the marquee also had a 20-feet-structure of a Chinese "Hulu" (calabash), which signifies happiness and prosperity in China, IANS reported.
Ma pointed out that the red lanterns, the paintings, dragons and especially the "Hulu," represent affluence, happiness, and prosperity for the Chinese people.
“Hulu, which is believed to bring good omen and prosperity, is very popular in Yunnan, where it is grown widely. We also have a musical instrument made out of the gourd called ‘Hulusi'; it is like a trumpet,” Ma had told the Indian media earlier.
The Chinese diplomat expressed hope for more such events fostering understanding between the two countries in the coming years. "I am happy that the Chinese people could enjoy and share the joy of Durga Puja. We will have more friendship and understanding between Chinese and Indian people in the coming years," IANS quoted him as saying.
Invoking the Indian Nobel laureate, Ma said: "The great poet Rabindranath Tagore said when China and India work together, we will create a difference in the world. We will change and contribute to the progress of this world."