Indian culture enjoys considerable popularity in Bulgaria right from the days of Rabindranath Tagore’s visit to Bulgaria in 1926. Indian culture has been well received which is evident by the popularity of not only the Indian classics like Ramayana, Mahabharata, Vedas, Upanishadas, Bhagvat Gita and Panchatantra but also such well-known modern Indian authors like Prem Chand, Mulk Raj Anand and Amrita Pritam. Some of the eminent Bulgarian poets like Hristo Botev, Hristo Smyrensky and Nikola Vaptsarov have also been widely translated to Indian languages. All these have contributed to a better understanding of each other’s culture and philosophy.
Bulgarians evince keen interest in Yoga, Ayurveda, Bollywood films and the spiritual heritage of India. This is evidenced by the existence of many Yoga centres, daily telecast of Hindi serials dubbed in Bulgarian, popularity of Indian cuisine, music and dance and increasing tourist traffic
Indo-Bulgarian cultural relations have been given an institutional framework by a Cultural Exchange Programme [CEP], which was signed in 1963. Since then our cultural interactions have continued under the framework of biennial or triennial Cultural Exchange Programmes. The CEP for 2015-2017 was signed in New Delhi on 5th September 2015, which is currently under implementation.
The Centre for Eastern Languages and Cultures, Sofia University has an Indology Department, which, since 1983, has been conducting courses at graduation and post-graduation levels. There is a visiting chair for a Professor of Hindi from India in the Indology Department of Sofia University and similarly in the Delhi University for a Professor of Bulgarian language.
Visiting chairs of Hindi at Indology Department of Sofia University and of Bulgarian at Delhi University have over the years also contributed to the goodwill and friendship that exist between the two countries.
Under the Fellowship Programme for Foreign Scholars instituted by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Mrs. Galina Rousseva-Sokolova, Associate Professor & Vice-Dean, Faculty of Classical and Modern Philology, Sofia University, received scholarship in 2010 and completed her research work at the prestigious Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi, India.
The two schools named after former Prime Minister of India, Late Smt. Indira Gandhi – Indira Gandhi High School in Sofia and Indira Gandhi Kindergarten in Pravetz. There are about 1200 students in Indira Gandhi High School where Hindi is being taught. The Mission maintains close contacts with these institutions / organizations and organizes various activities with their support like the World Hindi Day which is being celebrated every year since 2006. There is a Georgi Stoikov Rakovsky Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya in Delhi named after the famous Bulgarian patriot.
Bulgarian students from the Indology Department of Sofia University have been going to Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra in India for pursuing a one-year course in Hindi under scholarships provided by the Government of India under the scheme “Propagation of Hindi Abroad.”
In Bulgaria, there are sizeable numbers of Bulgarians who are extremely close and friendly towards India. There are several institutions / organizations connected with India who are involved in promoting Indian culture, Indian music and dance, Ayurveda, Yoga etc.
Some India-related friendship / cultural societies which are involved in spread and propagation of Indian culture through organization of cultural activities with support from the Indian Embassy are – the Friends of India Club, East-West Indological Foundation, and Association of Indians in Bulgaria, Namaste Bulgaria.
Friends of India Club was founded in 1993. There are at present 560 Bulgarian members who are from all fields of life: writers, scholars, diplomats, artists, journalists, and musicians. The main purpose of the Club is to acquaint the Bulgarian public with the cultural and human values from India. The Club with the help of Indian Embassy brings out “Svetilnik” magazine annually which covers different aspects of Indian culture and society. The Club organizes numerous cultural activities related to India throughout the year. The Club has a website at http://www.friendsofindiaclub.com and one can become its member by emailing at– email@example.com
East-West Indological Foundation was established in 1997. The main objective of the Foundation is to promote the implementation of Indology in diverse ways and at different levels. The Foundation supports and stimulates the development of Indology at Sofia University. Up to now, several projects, such as creation of Hindi-Bulgarian Electronic Dictionary, translation of short stories of several Hindi writers from Hindi to Bulgarian, publication of these translations, etc., have been conducted and funded by the Foundation. The Foundation also is active in supporting and hosting cultural troupes from India and has been instrumental in organizing cultural shows in Bulgaria. In addition, the Foundation organizes Hindi and Sanskrit classes at its premises. The East-West Indological Foundation played a pivotal role in organizing both editions of International Day of Yoga in 2015 and 2016. The Foundation can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and Boyanova@indfound.org
The Association INDIA was formed in 20 October 2016 and aims to provide a platform for the India community in Bulgaria as well as the large number of Indophiles to come together and discuss topics of mutual interest. Association INDIA has its own fledgling website – www.associationindia.org, Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Association.India/ and its email ID is email@example.com.
Namaste Bulgaria Foundation is engaged in promotion of Indian culture through celebration of National Days of India, organizing exhibitions relating to India, celebration of Hindi Day, organization of Indian film festivals, etc. The Foundation’s recently organized an event highlighting the works of Designer Rohit Bal at the NDK Bridge from 15 to 19 July 2016 in association with Embassy of India and Sofia Municipality. The Foundation’s website [http://bulgarianamaste.com/] and its Facebook page [https://www.facebook.com/pages/Namaste-Bulgaria-Foundation/143940925671174?sk=info&tab=page_info] provide information pertaining to Indian culture including cuisine, fashion, cinema, tourism, music, and dance etc.
The Embassy organizes the World Hindi Day as an annual event. This year, the World Hindi Day was celebrated on 19.01.2016 by the Embassy in cooperation with the Indology Department of Sofia University, Friends of India Club and the East-West Indological Foundation.
Another annual event which is organized by the Embassy is (Indian Technical and Economic Cooperation) ITEC Day. This yeas ITEC Day was celebrated on 29th September 2016 which was attended by about 60 people which included ITEC alumni over the last several years, alumni of Kendriya Hindi Sansthan, Agra, FSI course participants, academics from Indology Department of Sofia University, members of Indo-Bulgarian friendship organizations and senior officials from Bulgarian Government. Annual celebration of this event underlines the importance the Government of India attaches to ITEC programme in strengthening the relations between India and Bulgaria.
Some other events organized in last two years in connection with promotion of Indian culture organized in Bulgaria are as under: