When Mr. Suresh Goel, Director General Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), is not dealing with United Nation reforms, or international diplomacy work he is also touring the world, promoting Indian culture abroad, and it is the exceptional Indian cultural presence of the Vedic community and castle of Radhadesh that brought him to the Belgian countryside last week.
Mr. Suresh Goel had been acquainted with Radhadesh resident and Museum of Sacred Art (MOSA) director Mahaprabhu das while in India, and made a promise to come for a visit during the museum’s opening ceremony. However due to work commitments Mr. Suresh Goel was unable to come. Now, one year later, he has kept his promise and made the one and half hour journey from Brussels to finally receive his tour, accompanied by Ms. Soumya, Second Secretary at the Embassy of India to Belgium.
MOSA executive manager, Stoka Krsna das, along with Radhadesh Temple President Hrdaya Caitanya das, and Hindu Forum of Belgium (HFB) Vice President Ravinder Singh and wife greeted and accompanied Mr. Suresh Goel throughout the day’s activities. In the MOSA they were met by a cultural presentation; a Bharatnatyam dance and devotional bhajan performed for the gathered guests. Although both the temple president and MOSA manager were present, Mr. Suresh Goel quickly turned into the guide as his vast experience with Indian art and culture was a natural transition. Mr. Suresh Goel also gave the Bhartnatyam dancer, who is visiting from Lithuania, a chance at applying for a sponsorship program organized by the ICCR.
The tour of the two museums was followed by a tour of the castle, most prominently the castle’s temple room. After the tours Mr. Goel and guests had dinner at the Govinda’s Restaurant where they were treated to a three-course meal created special by a resident chef, Syamandanda das.
Mr. Suresh Goel was impressed by the Radhadesh community; from the art museums, temple Deities and especially the local residents taking up of Indian, Vedic culture, displayed outwardly in their dress.
The main focus of the ICCR is to promote Indian diplomacy and to sponsor cultural exchanges between India and other countries.
“Culture is no longer confined to national boundaries,” said Mr. Suresh Goel. “We want to look at culture as a means of communication in a fast-globalizing community,” he said in an interview in 2010 with the Thai Indian News organization.
His work includes organizing large-scale events across the world and at home in India, including his recent success of the New Delhi Jazz festival, and working with academics and arts abroad to illustrate the new perspectives of India that often go unknown.
Mr. Suresh Goel’s main purpose to visit Belgium was for Europalia; an international art festival that has chosen this year to have as it’s central theme “Encounters of India”, which he is the Director General and Special Secretary for the event. Europalia will be inaugurated on Oct. 4th, by the President of India and last for four months throughout the city of Brussels, diving into themes of India such as “India Tomorrow”, “Bollywood and Beyond”, and “Diaspora” in artwork showcases, film, dance and other media.
Impressions of a Vedic Community in Belgium
After Mr. Suresh Goel’s visit to Radhadesh he spent the following day in meetings with Europalia, visiting a Sanskrit exhibition, and dinner with the Indian Ambassador to Belgium, Dinkar Khullar, before departing the next day from Brussels.
By Kumari Kunti Sherreitt
HFB Executive Secretary