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Bonjour India: A grand start with 100+ events in 100 days across 19 cities

Bonjour India, an artistic, cultural, educational, and literary festival, celebrates the partnership between India and France. An initiative by the Embassy of France and its cultural department Institut  Français en Inde, along with the network of Alliances Françaises and the Consulates General of France, the festival is all set to delight the people of India with 120 curated and collaborative events across 19 cities this summer.  The festival was inaugurated nationally by the Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Emmanuel Lenain, at the Residence of France in New Delhi. The event was also graced by Mr Aymar de Liedekerke Beaufort, Head of Territory, India, and Head of Corporate and Institutional Banking (CIB), India, BNP Paribas India, Ms. Swati Janu, Founder -Social Design Collaborative, and Mr Gaël de Kerguenec – Director of Alliance Française of Ahmedabad.

This year, Bonjour India’s mascot is The Little Prince, from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s book that embodies friendship. The Little Prince is one of the first books that comes to mind in India when people think of French literature. The world’s most translated non-religious book, it has been translated into 13 Indian languages.  

Bonjour India commenced with some exciting events, including the Trip to France, 1970 exhibit in Pune showcasing photographs of France from the 1970s captured by Mr Parmanand Dalwadi. S. Thala in Mumbai enthralled the audience with a dance performance by Annette Leday. Convergence in Ahmedabad displayed how French photographers perceived India since the invention of photography. Through A Twist of Fate in New Delhi’s Lodhi Garden, children and adults were treated to a play enacted by giant colorful puppets. Other events that audiences enjoyed were Let’s Dance! Film FestivalRick-Show and Café-Cinema.

Speaking about the festival, Ambassador Emmanuel Lenain said, “What makes Bonjour India unique is that its events are diverse enough to meet the expectations of a vast Indian audience. The events not only entertain thousands but also restore a festive spirit and bring people together after two years of restrictions. Attending them is a perfect way to celebrate 75 years of India’s Independence and our vibrant Indo-French friendship. The large number of people who have attended Bonjour India events so far speaks volumes of the initiatives’ success. In the span of a fortnight, we’ve reached hundreds, both offline and online. In the weeks and months ahead, we expect to captivate many more people through 120 events in 19 cities across India.”

Bonjour India’s events are open to all ages and backgrounds and often located in public places to maximize accessibility. Most events are free. The festival is meant to entertain, enrich and engage audiences with meaningful discussions and friendly debates.

Some of the upcoming events that the audiences can look forward to including:

  • ·         ELEKTRIK
  • ·         City for All?
  • ·         Goncourt Choice of India
  • ·         Science Beyond Borders
  • ·         Analemma
  • ·          [In]Chorus
  • ·         Wall Art Festival
  • ·         Jazz
  • ·         Night of Ideas
  • ·         French Cartographic Journey to India
  • ·         Conference on Architecture

While Bonjour India is supported and funded by the Government of France, the festival also has a tradition of receiving the support and contribution of numerous partners, Indian and French, public and private. This has played an important role in enriching the festival and bringing diverse communities together. More specifically for the present edition, enterprises and brands, including BNP Paribas, Pernod Ricard, Airbus, JSW Group, Saint-Gobain, Tata Sons, Godrej, Safran, Accor, Om Books International, Chaudhry  Nummero, Bira91, L’Opéra and many others came together because of their conviction in the power of the arts, the essential quality of culture in creating bridges between people, and in the strength of Indo-French relations. They are a part of Bonjour India because they want to be a part of the celebration around the 75-year milestone of Indo-French diplomatic relations and India’s 75thyear of Independence.

At the event, Mr Aymar de Liedekerke Beaufort said, “BNP Paribas is proud to be the presenting sponsor of Bonjour India 2022. BNP Paribas is an ardent supporter of efforts and initiatives that promote culture and education, and this Indo-French initiative, which is testimony of the strong links between the two countries and its people, is a natural fit for us.

 Notes from Ambassador of France to India, H.E. Mr Emmanuel Lenain

·        We are delighted to bring a new edition of Bonjour India to 19 cities across the country. With 120 events, it is one of the most important cultural festivals ever organized by France abroad. This is telling about the importance of India for France, and the quality of our partnership.

·        This edition marks the 75th anniversary of the independence of India and the establishment of diplomatic relationships between France and India. We built this festival as a present from France to the people of India. The poster reflects this intention, in the form of a birthday card, in different Indian languages.

·        You can see that we chose an illustration of The Little Prince as the main picture on this poster, for various reasons:

o   The Little Prince is a novella about friendship, and the festival reflects on the long-lasting friendship between the people of France and the people of India.

o   It is the book that usually first comes to mind in India when people think of French literature. It is the world’s most translated book, excluding religious books. It was translated in more than 300 languages and dialects, including Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Tamil, Telugu, and even Sanskrit.

o   The Little Prince, despite turning 75 himself four years ago, is a character that still speaks very much to the youth. Young people find this book very modern and are particularly interested in its philosophy. It is proof that you can still be young at 75! In addition, it is our aim to talk to the youth of India. It is a priority of our strategic partnership, as reflected in our efforts to welcome more and more Indian students to France for university mobility programs.

·        Bonjour India is a collaborative work of the whole French cultural network in India. It comprises French institutions like the French Embassy and the French Institute in India, as well as our fantastic network of 14 Alliances françaises (which are Indian organizations dedicated to the promotion of French language and culture) and our many cultural partners throughout the country, who are co producing or hosting some of our events.

·        Bonjour India is a two-way program with India, who organizes the Namaste France festival at the same time in France. I would like to thank the Government of India, in particular the Ministry of External Affairs and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, for this continued collaboration in the cultural domain. We are honored to have Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakshi Lekhi attend the launch of Bonjour India tomorrow night.

·        The government of France is the main funder of Bonjour India. Yet, we are very grateful for the support of our sponsors. This year, we are very happy to have on board BNP Paribas as the principal sponsor and I thank Mr. Aymar de Liedekerke Beaufort and his team for their commitment to arts and education.

·        I would like to finish with a few words about the program. With around 120 events, it would be tedious to go through the whole list, however I would like to sum up its spirit around a few key words:

o   Diverse: We have put in place a program which includes theatre, music, dance, circus, literature, cinema, photography, science, architecture and even gastronomy.

o   Festive: The mood will be celebrative, markingthe 75th anniversary of the independence of India. There will be street art with a parade of giant puppets with the show A Twist of Fate, there will be juggling and acrobats with the circus company Analemma, and there will be a cinema under the stars with good French food and wine with CafeCinema.

o   Open to all: Most of our events are free and several take place in public spaces, such as the Wall Art Festival,the Rick-Show or the Night of Ideas.

o   Inclusive: the French cultural network in India has organized many events in the last 12 months about inclusivity and gender equality, and this is reflected in Bonjour India’s program with for example City for all.

o   Past and forward looking: Although most of the program is about new partnerships, we also have two historical exhibitions, for the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationships between France and India. Convergences is a retrospective of the way French photographers have pictured India since the invention of photography, while Science beyond borders tells the stories of the many scientific partnerships between our two countries.

o   Collaborative: our mission is to make French and Indian artists meet and create together. Many shows are the result of a joint work of artists from the two countries, through residencies.

o   Reciprocal: we are delighted that Bonjour India will be followed by Namaste France. Moreover, India is the guest of honor of the Paris Book Fair in April and then France will be the guest of honor of the New Delhi World Book Fair.

o   Top-notch: Bonjour India is bringing to our audiences the best of France. For the Convergences exhibition, we are bringing original photographs from the most famous French museums (Quai Branly, Guimet Museum). These pictures had never traveled to India despite the fact that they were taken in India. In literature, we will invite India to choose its own Goncourt Award, the most prestigious French literary prize, created in 1903. Finally, we are very excited to host Blanca Li, one of the most prestigious French ballet companies, going to Mumbai, Delhi and Hyderabad with their show Elektrik.

https://www.ifindia.in/bonjour-india

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