Alliance Française de Delhi (AFD) saw thousands of francophone come together on the International Francophonie Day to celebrate the French language and the Francophone culture in its diverse forms.
Millions across the world united on March 20, the International Francophonie Day, to celebrate and promote a language common to them all: French. The diversity and the richness of the francophone cultures elude none, and in India there were thousands to experience and be a part of it. Media India Group joined the francophone community in their celebrations in India’s capital, New Delhi.
“While the International Francophonie Day is celebrated on March 20 every year, here at Alliance Française de Delhi, the week leading up to the day is an entire Francophonie Week, which culminates in a grand mela,” explained Pierre Yves Munier, academic director at Alliance Française de Delhi (AFD). The celebrations were, thus, three-day long, commencing on March 16 and concluding with a grand ‘Francophonie Mela’ on March 18.
From theatre to talent hunt
On the first day, the French dramatist, Alfred de Musset and his classical 1833 play ‘Les Caprices de Marianne’ (The Moods of Marianne) were honoured by the students of Lycée Français de Delhi (French International School in Delhi). The following day was a film marathon, wherein six movies were presented throughout the day by Embassy of Switzerland, Québec Government Office and Alliance Française de Delhi.
The Festival ended with an eventful mela (fair), uniting the capital’s grand francophone community, including the francophone ambassadors in the capital. “Today, it is exceptional that we received five ambassadors: from Cote d’Ivoire, France, Tunisia, Morocco and Madagascar,” added Munier.
The AFD premises were dotted with stalls set up by different francophone countries like Belgium, The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Switzerland, Madagascar and Canada. The attendees were quizzed on their social, political, economic and gastronomic cultures. The morning also saw many schools participate in French singing and poster making competitions.
It was then a full house for Molière’s Hindi adaptation of ‘L’avare’ (The Miser), directed by the institute’s professor, S Somasundaram, who remarked that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s demonetisation came at a fortune moment, for, the whole nation itself was suddenly living like misers. The play, originally in French, was translated to Hindi by the institute’s own theatre group, Adi Theatre, founded in 1981, making it one of the oldest multicultural theatre groups of the capital.
On the occasion, Somasundaram launched his first book, an autobiographical account in French, about his adventures in the francophone world.
The day’s most awaited event was ‘AFD’s Got Talent’. “‘AFD’s Got Talent’ is a platform for the students of AFD to showcase their talents, to present the artist in them,” explained Munier. While some performed Indian classical dance (on contemporary songs), others sang about life at AFD, mixing Hindi, English and French.
The final event of the day left the crowd cheering for more, literally. New Delhi and Paris-based Tritha Electric band magnificently blended Indian classical music with psychedelic rock. They sang of corruption comparing the parliament to a fish market, but also of a lover obsessed with the eyes of the beloved. The varied crowd was united by the music, and found itself unanimously appreciating the performers in a tide of applause.
Supported by the strong social and economic ties between the two countries, the francophone community in India has forged positive developments. French has become not only a trending language, but also makes for a very popular career choice and even higher studies, offered by an ever growing number of private foreign language institutes, schools and universities across the nation.