A film festival celebrating 100 years of Bollywood is being held this week as part of the biggest cultural event organised by the Indian High Commission on the island after a two-year pause because of the unrest in Libya.

The high commission, based in Libya, used to hold an annual film festival but is this year expanding it into a week-long celebration of food, music, dance, cinema and Indian culture.

The initial plan was to hold only a film festival but, as the months rolled by, the high commissioner and consul started working on a much bigger event, which they hope will be repeated yearly if it goes down well with the public.

Coincidentally, October 2 marks the birth of Mahatma Gandhi in 1869. The day is a national holiday in India, and a photography exhibition about the father of the nation will be set up at the St James Cavalier Centre for Creativity in Valletta.

Thirty large photographs that are touring the world will be mounted on a timeline of Gandhi’s life.

Five movies – from the sports drama Lagaan to the horror film Paheli – will be screened at the centre between October 1 and 6.

Another event at the same time will be a handicrafts bazaar at Baystreet, which will include live demonstrations of hand-block printing, Kantha embroidery and bangle-making.

Incredible India promoters will be on site with information for prospective tourists. The bazaar will be open between 10am and 9pm every day, and till 2pm on Friday.

Throughout the week, two northeastern chefs will prepare Indian street food between 6.45pm and 10pm at Sa Re Ga Ma at Hotel Fortina in Sliema.

The other main component of the celebration is performing arts. Dance troupe Patel Raas Mandli, from Latipur, will perform traditional Gujarat dances on Wednesday at the Open Theatre in Valletta. Commuters can sit in for free.

If it rains, the performance will be postponed by an hour and transferred to The Sacred Heart School in St Julian’s. It will be repeated in Villa Rundle Gardens, Victoria, at 6pm the following day, and will be transferred to the San Lawrenz Hotel if it rains.

The Indian High Commissioner, Anil Kumar Trigunaya, who has made it a point to visit Malta at least once every three months, will be on the island all week.

Differing greatly in size and location, Malta and India have a history stretching back thousands of years and have inherited a legacy from the British.

Records of Indians in Malta date back to the 19th century, and another group arrived when India was ‘partitioned’ in 1947.

Today, there are a few hundred Indians in Malta, and they are one of the most respected communities, Honorary Consul Johann Cuschieri told this newspaper, noting that Indians participated in local celebrations, including religious ceremonies.

The Indian community in Malta celebrates Holi (the spring festival) and Diwali (known as the festival of lights), the Navratri Festival and meets for prayers every Monday at the Shiva temple in San ń†wann.

More information about Days of India is at www.facebook.com/pages/Hon-Consulate-Of-India-Malta/517734268248750.

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