2024 is the Year of Wales in India: What does this mean for Cardiff?

The Welsh Government has announced that this year, events will be planned to bring both countries together. 

Year-long celebrations will bring the two countries together through a series of events and activities appreciating both cultures.
Image credits: Wales Puja Committee 

Stepping into the room felt like being transported to a vibrant corner of India. The air buzzed with the incense’s aromatic smell, bells resonating, and holy verses echoing. Women elegantly clad in sarees and men in vibrant salwar kameez added to the visual spectacle, while Bengali music infused life into the atmosphere. And amidst it all, the rich aroma of ghee and spices from the dishes being served evoked a sense of being in India itself.

But wait, hold on. We’re not actually in India. We are in Cardiff! This was the scene of the Durga Puja celebration, a Hindu festival marking the victory of Goddess Durga over evil forces. Hosted by the Wales Puja Committee at the Temple of Peace, this gathering is just one of the many year-long celebrations by the Welsh Government, designating 2024 as the Year of Wales in India. This initiative aims to celebrate both cultures, fostering mutual understanding and appreciation.

The Durga Puja celebration in Cardiff wasn’t just a one-time event; it represented the growing connections between the Welsh and Indian communities. Guests were fully immersed in the rituals, carried away with the dancing, singing, and feasting. Attendee Sarah said “It was my first time attending an Indian event here in Cardiff. More than experiencing a new culture, it was all about having fun.”

Rt. First Minister of Wales Mark Drakeford attending Durga Puja festivities last October.
Image credits: Wales Puja Committee 

Indian politics academic Dr. Rajeev Ananth from Madras University, India, welcomes these initiatives. Having visited Wales himself multiple times, he believes that this is a wonderful move that will bring both countries together.

Dr. Ananth recalls a similar initiative taken earlier. ‘The Indian government had previously attempted to celebrate Indian Week during Diwali in 2017, and although the reception was great, it wasn’t continued later,’ he stated. ‘I wished they had continued that every year. It is wonderful news that both governments are working towards this cause of unifying both countries, at least now.’

This spirit of cross-cultural exchange and understanding was further strengthened by the recent visit of Nia Morais, the Welsh Language Children’s Poet Laureate, to the Kolkata Literary Festival in January. Morais’s participation in one of India’s most prestigious literary gatherings was a significant milestone, highlighting Wales’s rich linguistic and cultural heritage on an international platform.

Following the event, Mitch Theaker, Wales’ First Diplomat to India and Head of India for the Welsh Government, said: “Wales in India 2024 is all about showcasing the best of our country and strengthening relations between two nations of culture and innovation. As we move through the year, we look forward to shining a brighter spotlight on these shared bonds in the spirit of respect and learning.”

Looking ahead, residents of Cardiff can anticipate various events and activities throughout the year, further fostering the bond between Wales and India.