CULTURE (2017 | Issue 3)

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India in Germany: From Bollywood to Bharatnatyam

Germany is an increasingly multi-cultural country. For Indians, in particular, Germany is inviting because of the easy availability of vegetarian and vegan food, and an all-pervasive love for Bollywood. What’s Up, Germany? brings you some delightfully Indian things in Germany, which will make you feel right at home!

Ben playing Holi

Foodie Finds

When it comes to food, there are plenty of Indian restaurants—even more than German eateries! Vegetarians need not fret; Berlin alone has around 300 vegetarian and 30 vegan restaurants. Though Germany is known for its sheer variety of meats, there are some traditional vegetarian dishes you can try in case you don’t want to miss out on German cuisine: asparagus soup, sauerkraut (fermented cabbage), bratkartoffeln (fried potatoes), spätzle (egg noodles) and knödel (dumplings). While ambling through the streets or shopping, you can sample the famous döner kebab, which also has a vegetarian option.

Strike a Pose

Yoga is the in thing in Germany! Some three million Germans practise yoga regularly, 90 per cent of whom are women. There are loads of options to choose from: hot yoga, prenatal and baby yoga, asanas for the elderly, yoga cycling and the latest fitness trend, beer yoga! There are even classes for Indian dance. From Bharatnatyam to Kathak, Bollywood moves to Punjabi bhangra, Germany has it all!

Holi Hai!

Want to play Holi with a German twist? Every year, between mid-May to late August, tens of thousands of young Germans gather in designated areas to celebrate the festival of colours. It all started when Jasper Hellmann came to India and experienced some Holi fun. He loved the idea of partying with coloured powder so much that he launched the company Holi Concept GmbH, turning Holi into one of the most fun events in Germany! Unlike in India, it is devoid of any religious significance. The focus is on techno music, Indian food and lots of colour!

Bollywood Boom

Many Germans are Bollywood fans. Hindi movies are regularly screened on German television. There’s even a dedicated Bollywood movie channel for the German market called Zee.One. German film locations are also becoming popular for shooting song and dance routines or action-packed scenes. Dil to Pagal Hai, Don2 and Hero No.1 were all shot in Germany! During the shooting of Don2, thousands of German women camped outside Shahrukh Khan’s hotel in Berlin, shivering in the cold just to get a glimpse of the “Kaiser of Hearts”! The city of Stuttgart hosts the largest Indian film festival in Europe that includes Bollywood, regional and indie cinema. More than 7,000 people attended the festival in 2012!

The Sound of Music

Indian culture is strongly represented through song as well. A 2015 highlight was renowned singer Asha Bhosle’s first performance in Germany during the Wassermusik: Mother India festival. Tabla player Talvin Singh also performed with folk singer Mike Heron. India has a presence at the daf BAMA MUSIC AWARDS in Hamburg as well. This international multi-cultural music award show honours artists of all genres from all over the world. Singer Mohit Chauhan won the award for the Best Indian Male Act and the Best International Male Act in 2016. Singers Sonu Nigam, Neha Kakkar and Babbu Maan have been nominated this year.

Dirndl

Young Bavarian entrepreneurs Anton and Sebastian Jell and Ludwig Schmideder have created traditional Bavarian dirndls using sari fabric! The brainwave came to them while travelling in India. The fabric is transported from Mumbai to Vadodara, where the dirndls are produced before being shipped off to Bavaria. Now that’s Indo-German coolness!