Hoduyada 2007 - Eilat, Israel

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Article source:
http://ia.rediff.com/cms/print.jsp?docpath=//news/2007/jan/15israel.htm

Israeli Indians pledge strong ties with country
Harinder Mishra in Eilat

Four thousand Indians have celebrated 'Hoduyada', the gathering of Indians, in this southern coastal town, pledging to strengthen political and cultural ties with India.

"We call upon Indians in Israel to grab the opportunity to connect themselves to their motherland that we all love through the Overseas Citizenship of India scheme," Noah Massil, President of Central Organisation of Indian Jews in Israel, said.

"We have always taken pride in our Indian origin. We never faced any discrimination, the sort of anti-semitism in Europe, during our days of exile and have brought the message of peaceful co-existence with us," Massil added.

COIJII has planned weeklong cultural activities in August to celebrate 15 years of diplomatic relations with Israel, he later told PTI.

"You are a very important link between India and Israel. While contributing and integrating with the Israeli society you have continued to maintain the Indian tradition", India's Ambassador to Israel, Arun Kumar Singh, told the community.

Singh also informed the community about a series of academic programmes the Indian government has introduced for the diaspora's youth.

The beach on the Red Sea coast was transformed into a 'mini-Chowpatty' as Indian music reverberated in the air during this three-day programme with stalls of 'bhelpuri', 'papri chaat' and other snacks.

"We maintain our Indian-ness in every possible way. Food, Music, ritual practices and family values, whatever you look at, you will find continuity, I immigrated as a 16 year old and this celebration takes me back to my childhood. I hope to be in India next year," Shimshon dancing to Dus Bahane, said.

Indian artists, dancer Priyanka Shetty and singer Kavita Somi, specially flew down to the coastal city for the celebrations.

Thousands of Indian youngsters danced on the beach with Mujra performed on the stage to Jab pyar kiya to darna kya.

Several local artists from the community also performed during the three-day cultural programmes.

There are 70,000 Indian Jews living in Israel, spread across the country, and about 40,000 Israeli youngsters travel to India every year, most of them immediately after their compulsory army service.

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